Theatre production graduate with a reason to celebrate
Jesselyn NG has just celebrated the end of her BA (Hons) Theatre Production course at UWL by gaining a First Class Honours degree, and by stage managing a show at The National Theatre. Here she writes about the course and the spectacular beginning of her professional career.
I came to UWL from Singapore specially to do this course - I was keen to be trained in London, in the heart of the theatre world. At the age of 15, I started teaching in various capacities as I was ambitious (and still am) to work with children in the performing arts, and wanted to do so by getting a good all-round qualification in technical theatre, while specialising in stage management. The course at UWL was perfect for my requirements.
I’ve learned about all the important branches of technical and stage design work: lights, sound, construction, props, scenic painting, set design - and, of course, stage management. During the course I’ve worked on 40 productions in different capacities. It’s been a terrific and varied experience. These include being a Stage Manager several times at both LCM and The Questors Theatre. The Questors has been brilliant for me - I’ve learnt so much from working on shows.
Our lecturers are working professionals who always have time for us as individuals. We’re a small group - the course limits numbers to 12 so there is plenty of personal support and advice. My friends on the course have specialised in other branches - lighting, sound and set design, for example, although some are also working professionally now in stage management.
I was lucky to get the opportunity to stage manage at the Dorfman, one of the three National Theatre spaces - and I was really fortunate that the University made special arrangements to enable me to do this while I was in the final stages of my degree. I was working for the Theatre Royal Stratford East, stage-managing their NT Connections entry: Extremism by Anders Lustgarten. The level of equipment at the National is astonishing but I’d worked at The Questors on a SM desk similar to the one they have there, so I felt well-prepared. A fantastic experience and a great way to begin my career.
Jesselyn is currently working as Theatre Technician at The Questors Theatre - the University’s partner for this course. She is also teaching groups of young people there.