2019 is our 50th anniversary and we are championing some of the people who help make Scottish Ballet a great place to work. Each week we will introduce you to a different career at Scottish Ballet and the person behind it.
Hailing from Aberdeen, Technical Director Matt is known for thinking outside the box and being a creative problem solver at Scottish Ballet.
To celebrate National Techies Day and his 21st year with Scottish Ballet, we caught up with Matt to find out more about his journey and what he loves about the company.
You’re celebrating 21 years with Scottish Ballet this year… Congratulations! Tell us about your journey with the company so far.
I only planned to join the company for two years, well, that was the goal when I left His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen. I was very fortunate. Scottish Opera had advertised for a lighting technician, so I applied for that job and then a week later Scottish Ballet was advertising for an assistant electrician, so I applied for that too. Within a week, I had an interview for both. I was offered the job at the opera, but I asked them to wait until I had the interview with Scottish Ballet to make a decision. I went to the ballet interview, got offered that job and took it. I thought 'this is great' because I wanted to move from Aberdeen and experience a new challenge. So, I joined intending to stay for two years. It’s interesting because when I joined in 1998, technology started to skyrocket - iPhones weren’t around and using Windows 98 was the greatest thing you were dealing with.
My way of getting into the theatre industry is different from most. I’m really proud that I’m a joiner by trade. When I left school, I went straight into construction and spent ten years in that industry. It’s given me a good grounding, as when I got into theatre I had already dealt with a lot of heavy lifting, and the scope of knowledge I had was more diverse than if I had gone straight into the theatre industry.
21 years doesn’t feel like 21 years. I still feel like I’ve just joined the company. I love it.
What has been your favourite production to work on at Scottish Ballet?
There’s been numerous; every show is so diverse. More so lately, especially with The Crucible, we have moved away from a standard show. When the technology for the set arrived and was unveiled, Tim (who has been with the company for 35 years) said ‘I’ve spent years avoiding this’ and I was standing beside him like ‘yes, I’ve been waiting for this’. So, my favourite production to work on from the sense of a technical challenge has to be The Crucible. It’s been on my ‘Technical Bucket List’ to do a production with this level of technology, so that’s a big tick for me. I’m very proud of what we have done.
You’re well known within Scottish Ballet for thinking outside the box. What’s your most memorable creative challenge to date?
It’s got to be A Streetcar Named Desire. When the set designs came out, I remember looking at the model box for the production, and the designer wanted 28 lightbulbs to fly in and out of the stage. I thought to myself ‘how am I going to do this’, I grabbed my notepad and started sketching in the production meeting and thought 'well actually, we could do it like this'. I then went on to build the complete fly system, all automated. It’s one I’ll always hold dear, as not many people get the chance to not only design but physically build and operate something like that. I had control of it from conception right through to fruition.