Katie Bingham, Theatre Fairy
I first met up with Katie Bingham while she was home in Pembrokeshire recharging her batteries.
“Life in the theatre is so fast-paced and I love it, but when I come home I don’t have to look at the clock. I can walk on the many lovely beaches and find my calm centre. One of my favourite places is the Blue Lagoon, especially when no one else is about.”
And for much of the time, Katie’s work in stage management means she is rarely alone.
“Theatre is a hectic, adrenaline-fuelled world. The ‘live’ aspect of it suits my temperament.”
The theatrical world had a fascination for her throughout her childhood. She danced, played piano and involved herself in creative productions, but at 17 she researched her options and found that stage management offered her the best of the world where she hoped to make her career.
“I got a place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2013 to study stage management and technical theatre. My portfolio consisted of what I had done in the sixth form at school.” She laughs: “I think I got in on enthusiasm.”
Katie said it was terrifying to begin with. Within the first eight weeks they had to put on an event with a Cluedo theme, and after that Katie felt inspired to go on and the develop the skills that have made her sought after.
Since we last talked to Katie, she has been very busy.
“I have been privileged to work with a company called the Llanarth Group, working on two shows back to back, the first with both Welsh and Singaporean artists. This opened at a festival at the Southbank Centre in London called Unlimited. The festival enables new work by disabled artists to reach both UK and international audiences. The second show was a one-woman show called Richard III Redux which we took to Mainz in Germany, which was considerably well received.
“Opera has always been a passion for me. I was involved in a lot of operatic productions at uni. I applied to Opera Holland Park [based in London] not expecting to get anywhere and was delighted when I got to work with them for three months. We put on a number of operas including an outdoor performance of Alice in Wonderland, particularly aimed at younger audiences.” She was asked to return the following May as head of stage.
“It’s very intense work, involving set changes every day, so it is physically very demanding, but it is work that combines my greatest loves of music and drama on a big dramatic scale. It’s very exciting and utterly exhausting, but it is just the most amazing work.”
Last spring Katie also worked with Mid Wales Opera on its touring production of Tosca around Wales and is about to join it again this year for its production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Last year, Katie spent the summer in East Sussex working at Glyndebourne Opera House on six operas.
“Working as assistant stage manager in a building that large was a totally new experience for me. I was very used to being part of a small team. However, at Glyndebourne the team is just so much bigger.
“I then went on tour with a different selection of three productions to Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Woking and Norwich. Although the shows are scaled down slightly, some of these venues barely fit us! I’ll be joining Glyndebourne again this summer, once I’ve finished touring with Mid Wales Opera.”
What does she love so much about herr work?
“I work with fabulous people. I love the variety. I have to source all sorts of interesting props. On one show, I had to find a morgue table. I have to do a lot of sewing too and made a mattress last year and 44 cushions. There is such variety in the productions too. One week I am working on The Girl with Incredibly Long Hair at the Wales Millennium Centre, next I am doing research and development for Word Gets Around, based on the Stereophonics album. I get to travel. I have been involved in a one-woman show with Man to Man that took me to from Cardiff, and London to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool and New York.”
Katie loved New York. “ I wanted to stay,” she laughs. “I had each day to explore. One day I walked over 12 miles. I wanted to take it all in: sunrise over Brooklyn Bridge, through Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty.”
Sounds like a very busy life. So what does the future hold?
“The blog we talked about last time is still definitely on the cards but I have been so busy since I graduated that I have only just had a chunk of time off and my first proper holiday in six years.”
However, amidst a host of engaging projects for 2020 Katie is considering beginning a company of her own, producing small-scale opera to reach audiences who may not otherwise have the opportunity to see it.
We look forward to hearing more about that Katie. Watch this space!