Technical Theatre

ROBE UK light up Cheshire College – South & West

With a reputation as one of the best teaching and training facilities in the country, Cheshire College – South & West’s Technical Theatre department was chosen by the leading international lighting manufacturer, ROBE UK, to deliver a special student workshop.

ROBE’s one-day workshop at the College’s Ellesmere Port campus involved an all-encompassing lighting demonstration showcasing the latest ROBE equipment and providing an exciting opportunity for the students to trial and experience the new gear. Lighting Designer, Andy Webb, spearheaded the workshop and offered advice to students throughout the day.

Angie Berwick, Performing Arts Tutor at Cheshire College – South & West commented: “We are pleased to have a strong working relationship with ROBE, built on our students enthusiasm and commitment to the industry. So, we were delighted that ROBE selected the College to deliver this workshop, which was really well received by all the students.

“ROBE are always keen to involve the College in their training plans and it is invaluable to the students to not only be able to work with the new equipment but also gain the support and advice from industry leaders. This is an exciting partnership for us and we are now in the process of working with ROBE to become one of their Hubs for workshops next year.”

The workshop brought together all facets of training, including knowledge of the latest technology as well as full use of the equipment and different techniques.

As a round-up to the day, ROBE held a competition, quizzing students on their knowledge of the equipment. This would determine how well the students had absorbed the information and which two would triumph to win a ROBE rucksack, notepad and pen, as well as the winning status.

James Hunt, 19 from Chester and Alex Vickers, 18 from Birkenhead, both studying Technical Theatre at Cheshire College – South & West claimed the top two spots.

Alex said: “It was a great day and really useful having ROBE there to talk us through the use of the equipment. It was also interesting to gain an insight into their experiences, advise and useful tips for our future careers. I wasn’t expecting to win the competition, I just enjoyed the day and that must have translated in the results.”

The College’s Technical Theatre programme has really gone from strength to strength, having celebrated its 15-year anniversary last year, gaining countless student achievements and having expanded its industry partnerships.

For more information on studying Technical Theatre at Cheshire College – South & West, or if you would like more information on the courses available, visit or call the College hotline on 01244 656555.

College in the spotlight

West Cheshire College’s Technical Theatre department has been hailed the best teaching and training facility in the country after former student, Will Blackie, was the only Further Education student chosen to represent Robe UK at the recent annual PLASA Show in London.

Will Blackie, 18, from Wirral, now working as an Apprentice Theatre Technician at the College, was just one of six students to make it through to work alongside the Robe team at the PLASA Show, an annual and prestigious exhibition for the international live entertainment technology industry.

Will commented: “This was an amazing experience and proved to be an invaluable insight.

“Working as part of the sales team for Robe UK, a major international lighting manufacturer, has enabled me to gain exceptional hands-on experience, as well as tremendous insight into the products showcased by Robe to trade visitors from around the world. It gave me a unique opportunity to network within the industry and allowed me to get my name known amongst the community of businesses across the country specialising in Technical Theatre.

“It was really rewarding to have been selected, given that just six people were chosen and I’m grateful to Robe UK for giving me the opportunity, and to West Cheshire College for all their support.”

West Cheshire College’s technical theatre team celebrated its 15-year anniversary this year by hosting an event by current and former students to mark the evolution of the College’s Technical Theatre programme and recognising students’ achievements over the years.

Angie Berwick, Tutor at West Cheshire College said: “Our 15-year celebratory event truly highlighted how important this course is to the development and success of our students. To see so many former students achieving their goals was immensely rewarding.”

Will is amongst many success stories and accomplishments this year; Anthony Nield has now secured a FT job with MSP in Liverpool, Josh Jones gained a FT Lighting Technician post with VME, Jack Mawdsley from Wirral became the youngest Senior Technician on board Disney Cruises, James McMahon also from Wirral is now the Managing Director of UK events Group, Joe Dowling from EMP is the Touring Lighting Engineer and Designer and was recently on tour in the USA with Catfish and The Bottlemen, Mike Dunn from Warrington is an Event and Production Manager at Liverpool Echo Arena and Jordan Barnes from Chester is now Business Manager for ABER Ltd.

Angie went on to say: “Will has been a shining light amongst our alumni for the College throughout this experience, receiving overwhelming praise from the University of South Wales and Robe UK itself in relation to his work and attitude.

“I cannot fully express the pride I feel when our past students and our alumni share their stories and career success with us. Seeing how they have blossomed and grown in their careers is the highlight of my job.

“We have formed numerous strategic partnerships with local and regional companies, which have been a great asset this year, enabling students to gain access to real hands-on involvement and invaluable work experience. Most recently we have formed a strong partnership with the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, who now employs three of our alumni.

“Due to the quality and calibre of our students, we are attracting big names within the industry and it is so fulfilling to gain the feedback from them about our students. We have developed a great reputation and these successes speak volumes for the College, showcasing why we are the best at what we do.”