Q&A with our 2018 Denis Irving Scholarship recipient - Julia Orlando, Stage Manager

Q&A with our 2018 Denis Irving Scholarship recipient - Julia Orlando, Stage Manager

Marshall Day Entertech is proud to provide the Denis Irving Award to an outstanding graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Production Course every year. The scholarship was established in conjunction with Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) and VCA in memory of Denis Irving, who founded Entertech in 1979. Denis believed that the people who work in the spaces are often the best placed to advise on how they should be designed, and so the award was created to encourage VCA students to study the design and operation of performance venues. The recipient of the award for has a minimum four weeks paid employment with Marshall Day Entertech followed by another six weeks paid employment with the MTC in their production department.

This year the Entertech team welcomed Julia Orlando, a Stage Management graduate, who completed her six week internship across April and May.

What led you to pursue a career in the performing arts?

I knew that I wanted to work in the theatrical production industry after my first year of involvement with my high school’s annual production. Originally, I tried my hand at acting, but soon I discovered that I thrived in the backstage environment, as part of the technical crew. Eventually, I worked my way to stage managing the school production and realised that this was my ideal career; being involved in the live performance industry whilst utilising my key strengths in organisation and people management.

I also have a strong passion for the progression and improvement of the arts industry within Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas. Growing up in a small country town, exposure to the arts was limited. I chose to pursue a career in the performing arts in the hope that I can eventually help improve access to productions in these areas.

Why did you apply for the Denis Irving Award?

I was excited to hear about the hands-on opportunity to work with both Marshall Day Entertech and MTC. My goal in applying for the award was twofold: to develop my industry relevant IT skills through an introduction to theatre planning at Marshall Day Entertech, and to strengthen my ties to the industry, whilst developing my understanding of different stage management styles, at MTC.

I thought the award would be a fantastic chance to increase my skills diversity, and at the completion of the internship I will have hopefully improved my employability as a freelancer.

What have you discovered during your time at Marshall Day?

I have learned that theatres, performance spaces and other cultural facilities are complex buildings with highly specialised requirements, dissimilar to that of any other structure. I admire the Entertech team’s operational experience of venues and their love of design. They really keep the client’s need at the forefront of their decisions. This all comes through during their team discussions, a lot of which is focused on ensuring the successful life of a venue through good design.

Upon receiving the award, I was unsure of what I could bring to the Entertech team, but I have been really surprised to learn how a Stage Manager’s perspective can contribute to venue practicality during the design phase. Also, now I have a better understanding of the theatre planning process, I have a newfound appreciation for the pragmatism behind highly successful theatre spaces.

What skills will you take from this experience?

Overall my time at Marshall Day has been beneficial as a learning experience. At the beginning of the award, I knew little about theatre planning or how to read technical drawings. Across the six weeks with the Entertech team I believe I have been able to vastly improve my critical thinking skills and now have a better aptitude for interpreting technical drawings, plans and schematics. These skills are extremely valuable to a Stage Manager and are easily transferrable to a range of roles that I may come across as a freelancer in the live performance industry. Additionally, the new programs and resources I have been exposed to have improved my IT capability and increased my awareness of the industry benchmarks in theatre planning.

What are your goals for the future?

Since graduating I have been working predominantly on straight theatre shows as this is where my real passion lies. The goal for the next few years is to expose myself to as many state and national companies as possible and to hopefully build a name in the Australian theatre-making industry.

My goal as a freelance Stage Manager is ideally to work with a range of companies every year to keep work fresh, exciting and challenging. In the future, I would love the opportunity to stage manage in other genres, especially contemporary dance, circus and the festival scene. I would also like to tour regionally and bring productions to areas that have low exposure to the arts in the hope to improve access to theatre.

Although after my time at Entertech this goal remains unchanged, I am now entering the industry with a new desire to assist, wherever possible, in optimising the functional architecture of performance venues.

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