Published: September 20, 2017
The stage is set for a Royal Conservatoire graduate after she was appointed to lead the behind-the-scenes operation for one of the UK’s leading ballet companies.
Fiona Findlater has joined English National Ballet as head of stage management, where she will oversee the smooth running of the company’s acclaimed productions from behind the scenes.
The appointment is the latest success for Fiona, who graduated with a BA (Technical and Production Arts) degree in 2013 from Scotland’s national conservatoire, which is ranked in the world’s top three for performing arts education and number one in Scotland for graduate employability.
Commenting on her appointment, Fiona said: “I am so excited to begin my new role at English National Ballet. It’s a fantastic company which tours regularly, striking a great balance between classical and contemporary work. I have been to meet the team and now I just can’t wait to get started.”
Originally from Scotland, Fiona spent much of her childhood growing up in the USA. By her own admission, she was always in and around the world of theatre and ultimately applied to study at RCS.
Her new role will leave little time for settling in, with English National Ballet in the midst of performing Akram Khan’s Giselle. Being thrown in at the deep end is nothing new for the Royal Conservatoire graduate, who has enjoyed a busy freelance career with the likes of Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, the Citizens Theatre and The Grange Festival in Hampshire. Most recently, she was working as company stage manager on the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Adam and credits her love of variety with her studies at Scotland’s national conservatoire.
Fiona said: “We were exposed to everything from opera to ballet and contemporary performance practice. We developed lighting skills and worked as crew for the panto. I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty and that made for a really well-rounded experience.
“I’m really grateful to my tutors and lecturers, including Susan May Hawley, for supporting me throughout my studies and beyond.”
Working behind the scenes of a major live production is a bustling environment where nothing stays the same and Fiona has no shortage of tales from her life in the theatre. From dancers suffering nosebleeds and broken bones to pieces of set giving way, she said it is crucial to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice.
She continued: “Being level-headed is crucial in this line of work. It’s about thinking on your feet and being ready to step in when necessary. From the cast to the crew and the set, there are so many variables so it’s about making sure everything runs smoothly and helping everyone perform to the best of their ability.”
Susan May Hawley, lecturer in stage management at the Royal Conservatoire, said: “I am delighted for Fiona, who continues to impress after her days at RCS. Our students are equipped with a broad range of skills to ensure they can thrive in the production arts, with alumni going on to work in theatres and productions all over the world. Fiona is a perfect example of someone who has embraced every opportunity which has come her way and I look forward to hearing about her continued progress.”