We simply couldn’t celebrate International Women’s Day without hearing from the one and only Bridget Wallbank.
Our Production Manager, Bridget, started out as a Theatre Technician at our home venue The Hafren, Newtown in 1988. She’s been with Mid Wales Opera since the very beginning and is still happier up a ladder than behind a desk!
“Being a Theatre Technician and female is still quite unusual, though anecdotal statistics (i.e. what I see) do seem to show some small improvement.
It is still noticeable that I can count the current female technicians on our MainStages tour on one hand. I was definitely ahead of the game by being a techie in 1988! And I can think of fewer than 10 female techies across the entire MWO tours over thirty three years, to be honest.
It was a challenge to persuade people that I could do things. You definitely had to be committed, determined and good at your job and work harder to prove that you were ‘one of the lads’ or, rather, an equal part of the team. Having said that, several female techies came out of Aberystwyth when I did and we made a go of it, but I suspect we were quite unusual – maybe because we came into the theatre on the back of our degrees rather than through more apprentice-style entry?
The Youth Opportunities trainees at that time were all boys; hopefully it is different now. My friend Jane was a Lighting Technician touring across Wales in the late 80s and early 90s, and my friend Liz went on to Salisbury Playhouse, Ballet Rambert and then to work for ETC as a specialist on their lighting equipment. And El Higgins, Welsh Lighting Designer, who I met subsequently but started at a similar time to me, got through with a similar determination. As well as her work in theatres, she provides a role model for her students at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, something I hope we all do.
Today we are championing women in technical theatre and all who choose to challenge by doing brilliant work in roles historically dominated by men. Never be dissuaded from pursuing what you love.”
Are you a member of the Unofficial Bridget Fan Club? We most certainly are!