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05 March 2024

Capital Theatres’ first technical theatre apprentice is a flying success

As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the College is joining Capital Theatres in celebrating the success of the organisation’s first ever scenic flying technical theatre apprentice, Liz Dokukina.

Launched in October 2023 by Capital Theatres and Edinburgh College this apprenticeship offers a unique training experience as Liz learns the art of ‘flying’ - the operation of a traditional theatrical rigging system, which lifts scenery to-and-from the stage. This distinct flying apprenticeship is an area typically difficult to gain experience in and is in high demand within the industry. For Liz, the apprenticeship offers hands-on training in a live theatre setting and an SCQF Level 7 Diploma in Technical Theatre and Production Operations qualification. For Capital Theatres, it represents a welcome opportunity to preserve key technical theatre skills and provides a valuable route into employment for young people.

The Festival Theatre has one of the largest counterweight fly systems in the country, consisting of 75 fly bars each holding up to 400 kilograms of weight. As part of her apprenticeship, Liz is learning how to safely operate this theatrical flying system that moves backdrops and scenery in and out of the audience’s sight.

Despite joining the theatre just a few months ago, Liz has excelled in all aspects of her work and has already flown her own show for the first time – Carlos Acosta’s On Before. Later this month, Liz is due to visit the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff to work on Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands before it heads to the Festival Theatre in May.

It is a fantastic opportunity, and I am so glad that it exists, especially as someone who has a passion for theatre but didn’t have any technical qualifications. Now I can learn hands-on while studying towards a qualification and also earning a living. It’s been really fun – it’s a dream coming into work knowing that you’re going to have a good day. I love the learning process. With every show that comes in, there’s a new technique for me to learn. Everyone at Capital Theatres has been so supportive and learning from my mentor Mark Pringle (our resident flyman) has been absolutely fantastic! He so clearly understands his craft, having started at the Festival Theatre when it opened 30 years ago, and it is a privilege to learn from him. The team has created a brilliant learning environment, and I am in very safe hands.
Liz Dokukina, Technical Theatre Apprentice at Capital Theatres and Edinburgh College
We are delighted to be able to deliver this apprenticeship with colleagues at Capital Theatres. Our joined-up approach ensures that Liz is benefitting from the unique blend of industry and education that apprenticeships offer, ensuring Liz will have the necessary skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in Technical Theatre.
Audrey Cumberford, Edinburgh College Principal
It has been so lovely to see Liz flourish in this key technical skill which is incredibly in demand and fundamental to the complex technical operation of a theatre of our scale and more widely across the sector. We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Edinburgh College in offering this Technical Theatre Modern Apprenticeship and are privileged to have a team of highly talented and experienced technicians operating one of the largest counterweight fly systems in the country. Modern apprenticeships are critical to our strategic planning through the building of future technical talent and the lifeblood of keeping all of our stages fresh for exciting new programming for the long term.
Fiona Gibson, Chief Executive of Capital Theatres