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This September, the Mercury Theatre welcomes Woody Whymark as its inaugural Hervey Benham Technical Theatre Apprentice. Woody is the first of three apprentices that will spend one year working with the Mercury Theatre’s Technical Department, training with them towards a career in the industry.
The apprenticeship is kindly supported by the Hervey Benham Charitable Trust. Hervey Benham founded the Civic Society in Colchester in 1964, and was instrumental in the founding of the current Mercury Theatre building alongside the Repertory Company and Colchester Borough Council. Over thirty years after Hervey passed away, his legacy is still supporting the Arts in Colchester, ensuring young people in the region have the opportunity to access the education they need to succeed.
Woody will spend time learning the disciplines of Stage Lighting, Sound Engineering, and Stagecraft, ensuring he has a solid foundation from which to choose a future specialism. He will also spend time working across the theatre’s other departments in order to get a full grounding in theatre operation: Box Office, Wardrobe, Stage Management, Workshop, Marketing, and Production.
Woody joins us from Thurstable School in Tiptree where he completed his GCSEs this summer. He is passionate about technical theatre and has worked extensively with KYDS drama group in Tiptree, providing technical support for their productions and furthering his understanding of the field. Woody also spent time with the Mercury Theatre’s ‘So You Want to Work in Theatre’ programme of work experience, where he showed great excitement for the work of the Technical team.
Ben Wills, Mercury Theatre Technical Manager, said: “At a time when there is such a technical skills shortage in the East, we’re thrilled to be working with the Hervey Benham Trust to support opportunities for learning. Woody is really excited about technical theatre and showed a passion for wanting to learn in a hands-on way. We’re very much looking forward to him joining the team in September and are sure he will find it a valuable opportunity.”
Mike Kerr, member of the Hervey Benham Board of Trustees, said: “The Hervey Benham Charitable Trust is delighted to collaborate with The Mercury Theatre in sponsoring this innovative apprenticeship in theatre technical craft. Hervey Benham was a local businessman and a keen advocate for The Mercury, and the Trust is certain that he too would have seen the opportunities that this programme will create. Woody is a worthy beneficiary of this first award.”
The Hervey Benham Technical Theatre Apprenticeship will run from September 2018 at the Mercury Theatre. The Level 2 qualification will be awarded by The National College of Creative Industries. There is one apprenticeship running each year for three years successively, and applications for the 2019/20 position will be open in spring 2019.