A successful backstage wiz in the entertainment industry returned to Stratford-upon-Avon College to pass on insights and tips for breaking into the field.
Ken Johnson graduated from the College’s Technical Theatre course in 2009 before continuing his training at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, and is now an experienced backstage rigger, living life on the road as he works on music concerts, festivals and theatre productions across the country.
Ken, who is based in Manchester and is originally from Redditch, has worked on theatre shows such as The Commitments and The Lady Killers, and with a host of top recording artists including Picture This and Pink.
Explaining his role in these varied shows, Ken commented, “I like to think that the ceiling of a performance venue is my office. It’s my responsibility to install anything that needs to be suspended from the ceiling – from lights and speakers to performers and props.”
Such a fast-paced, high-pressure role is exactly the kind of job Ken thrives on. “The best thing is problem solving. I love coming up with ideas, using a limited set of equipment, to realise the vision of a show’s director and designer.”
During his visit, Ken worked closely with the College’s current Technical Theatre students and explained to them the importance of networking. “It’s so important to show your face and let people know that you are professional and ready to work. There are lots of jobs going in the industry and hopefully I’ll see them working at shows in the next few years.”
Reflecting on his own experiences at the College, Ken is particularly grateful for the access he received to the Royal Shakespeare Company, afforded to him as a student at the College, which provided him with a clear insight into how the industry works.
“The teaching I received was instrumental to me progressing to LIPA and starting my career – my passion for my job was ignited at Stratford College.”