College graduates shine in RSC spotlight

1st November 2019

Two former Stratford-upon-Avon College students have secured crucial back-stage roles on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest production.

Matty Sanders, 21 from Stoulton, and Lewis McMillan, 18 from Stratford-upon-Avon, will be working behind the scenes on the RSC’s upcoming production, ‘The Boy in the Dress’, a musical adaptation of David Walliams’s novel with music and lyrics by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers.

Adapted by former RSC playwright-in-residence Mark Ravenhill and directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this heart-warming comedy tells the story of star striker and fashion lover Dennis.

Matty has been chosen for the position of Primary Follow Spot Operator – responsible for operating the lighting, with its nuances of colour and varying degrees of intensity, that follows the characters on stage – while Lewis will be joining him as Follow Spot Operator.

college graduate with huge light
Technical Theatre alumni Matty Sanders and Lewis McMillan
Technical Theatre alumni Matty Sanders (left) and Lewis McMillan

Both Matty and Lewis studied on the College’s Technical Theatre course, which prepares students for a career in the theatre working behind the scenes – Matty from 2014 to 2017, while Lewis graduated in 2018. The course gives students responsibility for the various backstage aspects of all College performances and the opportunity to provide technical support for visiting professional theatre companies.

Matty’s passion for stage lighting was first ignited in primary school, where he was intrigued by the various effects produced by the lighting in the assembly hall. “I used to be fascinated by the different colour light that was outputted. It was this that got me into lighting at the beginning.”

He showed early signs of success while still at College, when he was presented with the Rising Star award at the College’s Student Award Ceremony in 2017: “I was absolutely thrilled to be recognised for hard work and dedication, and am very grateful to my lecturers for nominating me.”

‘The Boy in the Dress’ is not Matty’s first experience of working on a theatre production. Since graduating from the College, he has already worked on three shows for the RSC within its lighting department, and also on several amateur shows as a Lighting Programmer and Assistant Lighting Designer.

His previous work was so impressive that he was asked by the RSC’s Head of Lighting personally to take the position of Primary Follow Spot Operator on their latest production, and he will be responsible for the spot lighting for its entire run of 130 shows.

‘The Boy in the Dress’ opens at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Friday 8th November 2019 and runs until Sunday 8th March 2020. Tickets: or 01789 331111.

Find out more about the College’s Performing and Production Arts courses: SUAC Onstage courses