Master Carpenter

What do you do for a living?
Master Carpenter at the Royal Lyceum
How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
As a schoolboy I volunteered to help the youth theatre shows, doing the lights and sound for their productions. I really enjoyed the teamwork and the camaraderie of this kind of work and I also enjoyed the buzz of working on a live event. 
We had a very good youth theatre at my school and the teachers involved were inspiring to work with because of their passion for theatre and live performance, they even convinced me to take to the stage for a while but lets not get into that.!! 
It was all hard work but I found it really gratifying to hear the buzz of the audience after the show. 
There wasn't a lot of guidance for careers it was all about getting a degree but this just wasn't an option for me as I had no idea what I wanted to study. 

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I actually took a year out from education and worked my way around Australia and Asia for 9 months. This was the best thing for me as I wasn't actually sure of what I wanted to do with my life. The travelling gave me life experience and confidence and when I returned I had decided to work in theatre/Film but I wanted a course that would give me broad and diverse skills that could be transferable if I ever wanted to travel again. ( which I did )
So this led me to what was then called the RSAMD, now the RCS in Glasgow to study Production and Technical Stage Management. It was a two year practical course that gave a wide range of skills in all aspects of theatrical production. However I was taken under the wing of the Master Carpenter at the time who basically gave me a trade and an unofficial apprenticeship after I finished the course. 
It is the good people you meet in life that often influence what you end up doing for a living I have found. I went to college to do lighting and sound and ended up a carpenter. Go figure huh!!?
Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?
As the Master Carpenter I have overall responsibility for the health and safety in the workshop and the overall construction of the sets for the Lyceum. My days are filled by doing all the construction drawings for each aspect of the set on Vectorworks, I would then discuss these with my team and ask for their input as no one is infallible!!  We would break things down into individual jobs before we start cutting the timbers marking things out and constructing the pieces. Once the set is constructed and painted (in usually 4 weeks) as a workshop we then have to transport the pieces up to the theatre to begin the "fit up" process and put the whole set together ready for performance, this all has to happen in a day and a half. It's a tight schedule but we always get there.
There is a lot more to the job but it would take a bit to long to write it all down. 
Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Not at all I had never used a saw or a chisel before I got to college. 
What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Actually although they weren't impressed by the course I had chosen they hadn't offered any alternatives, I think they were happy for me to sink or swim by my own decisions. 
I have been out of work for approximately 1 month in all over the past twenty years ( apart from the 6 months and 2 months travelling in South America )
What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Things are all a lot more organised these days, in fact my lowly HND is now a degree so I guess that's where I would head now. I am still in contact with the college and I regularly take on their students for work experience. What I would say is that even if you don't have the skills or the experience it's all about the passion, good nature and the willingness to work, the reason you go to college is to get the skills and the experience.
What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I have actually started my own company making bespoke furniture and I hope to expand this into running my own commercial workshop supplying local and corporate industry in materials and bespoke pieces.