Catherine Briggs

Catherine Briggs secured a placement as a Scenic Assistant with Brilliant Stages/Perry Scenic, a company that constructs stage sets for tours and live events for music artists.

Catherine Briggs secured a placement as a Scenic Assistant with Brilliant Stages/Perry Scenic, a company that constructs stage sets for tours and live events for music artists.

Take a look at how she had the amazing opportunity to be part of the team that helped to construct the stage sets for the Spice Girls, Shawn Mendes and more! 

How did you get your placement and how long was your placement for?

I gained my work experience initially in second year from contacting a graduate from our course. It began as a three week placement working in the scenic department to help create the set for Paloma Faith's 'The Architect Tour 2018’. This involved working as part of a team with materials such as polystyrene and hot wiring to create the shape and structures. From this I asked to return for a second placement in the summer, and from there I continued on a part time basis whilst in my third year.

Catherine Briggs_Brilliant Stages set design for Paloma FaithWhat do your day-to-day tasks include?

In the scenic department, I specialise in soft goods. This involves making anything required out of material that can be sewn. Generally most stage sets have black drapes to cover around the stage, however some jobs are more exciting, like creating the rose for Shawn Mendes and the gold glitter stage drapes for Kylie's 'Golden' Tour 2018. 

I am working as the assistant in this department, however when necessary I assist in the rest of the department, whether that’s in the paint shop or with any scenic sculpting.

Catherine Briggs_Brilliant Stages set design for Shawn MendesWhat was the highlight of your placement?

The highlight of my placement has been the opportunity to go on site to the rehearsals for various jobs like Kylie, Take That and Rammstein. This time is for making any final alterations requested directly from the director, but also a good opportunity to see how the piece you’ve been working on contributes to the overall staging for the artist. 

Catherine Briggs_Brilliant Stages set design for KylieWhat’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your placement?

I was told by scenic artist Jacqueline Pyle: "You own what you do, whether a designer or not." 

You should always take pride in what you do whether you are working as a team or not, as you are contributing in some way to the job. Also ensure you can work in a team! It’s very important in this industry as you meet so many people and often you have to listen to others people’s opinions on the best way to approach the construction of a stage.

Did your placement influence your studies, or future career direction?

My work on placement completely influenced and moulded my third year at University. It helped me to determine that I wanted to work in the rock and roll music industry, so I began designing for this area. I took a lot of influence from some of the artists I have had the privilege of working alongside. I learned that there needs to be several tests and experiments in the design process to ensure the final result will be successful.

What tips would you give to prospective students who are thinking of doing a placement?

My main tip is definitely try and get a placement as soon as possible. It give you direct industry practice and current experience. It also informs you straight away whether this is the industry you definitely want to work in. 

Additional to this, be persistent. Had I not insisted on going back to the placement in the summer, they may not have taken me on part-time. There's always someone else there waiting to get a job so get in first and show how eager you are to work. Don't be scared to work on a voluntary basis to start. If you prove yourself to them, you may eventually find yourself with a paid job.

Image credits: Paloma Faith, Shawn Mendes and Kylie event photography courtesy of Brilliant Stages.