Rocky woman's $10K award for dream job
AS audiences watch a performance on stage, there's a team of people behind the curtain, dressed in black, who stealthily and skilfully make every minute run smoothly.
Former Rockhampton woman Natalie Carige is among the mechanists who bring productions to life on stage and has been honoured for her work in the industry with a $10,0000 award.
But it's not the job or career Natalie ever imagined pursuing, mainly because it wasn't something she knew existed.
"I'd never really realised it was a job,” Natalie said.
"I kind of just fell into it.”
After graduating from Rockhampton Girls Grammar School, Natalie's interest in outdoor activities led her to work with High Point Access and Rescue as a rope access technician.
It was while working here Natalie met the head mechanist of the Pilbeam Theatre who encouraged her to look in to the industry.
Having spent years performing in dance shows and eisteddfods while growing up, Natalie was familiar with the stage but said the production side of the industry was something she never thought about.
In April 2016, Natalie moved to Sydney where a busy performing arts scene means there's a better chance for full time mechanist work.
Natalie soon landed a job with the Australian production of hit Broadway musical Aladdin.
After a successful run in Sydney, Natalie toured with the production to Melbourne, Brisbane and, from July, Perth.
Part of Natalie's role is to help literally build the show from the ground up over several days.
For Aladdin, 30 to 40 crew members work from 8am to 9pm to build the set which involves a vast array of skills including carpentry and rigging.
Once the set is up, the show gets underway and Natalie's job is to get everything on stage at the right time.
In her current role as a production swing, Natalie covers for all the department heads and can work on anything from automation to props, staging and stage management.
Although the shows can get repetitive, Aladdin has been performed roughly 600 times in Australia so far, Natalie said there was always something, like hearing delighted children laugh at the on-stage antics, to remind her why she loves the job.
The Rob Guest Endowment Technical Award Natalie was recently honoured with is designed to help young musical theatre technicians fund further education.
Natalie hopes to use the $10,000 award to study a certificate in mechanical engineering and an advanced diploma in robotics and mechatronics.
She said this would help her pursue the automation field, something she has had a taste of in Aladdin.
"This is a very heavily automated show and I think more and more shows are working towards that, because that's what people love, it's exciting,” Natalie said.
Traditionally, the technical field is heavily male dominated and the first time Natalie worked with another woman on a production was during Aladdin.
"Try not to be intimidated by the fact that for the first few years you might be the only female,” she said. "Don't talk yourself out of it before you have the chance to do it.”