Truth be told, everyone relishes an outstanding theatre experience.

While audiences are usually enthralled by the stage performers, they often overlook what goes on behind the curtains.

To make a show a hit, there is always a group of remarkable individuals backstage, like the stage manager, sound specialist, light specialist and crew, who work relentlessly to keep the production going.

Mr Pirah Shah Jasman, 30, a technician for sound at The Esplanade Co Ltd, is one such unsung hero.

He has been working as a soundman in the technical theatre industry since he was 17.

He first dabbled with the sound consoles when he had to stand in as the soundman at various pubs. Those informal stints ignited his interest.

With no formal training, he picked up his skills through trial and error and did everything from setting up sound equipment to sound mixing for live performances.

After working freelance for more than 10 years in the technical theatre industry, he wanted a job that could provide him with a stable income and better career growth.

When he came to know about the 12-month Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Higher Certificate in Technical Theatre programme offered by The Esplanade in 2009, he saw this as the chance to receive structured training in an industry he was passionate about.

He enrolled in the programme and was among the inaugural batch of graduates.

The WSQ training equipped him with the theoretical knowledge and on-the-job learning necessary for the industry, especially in the areas of lighting, staging, sound, and health and safety.

He kept an open mind throughout the course and discovered that the new knowledge he acquired complemented his past hands-on experience.

Through the WSQ training, he was able to understand the dynamics of theatre production, which included constructing and rigging scenery, recording, sound mixing, and hanging and focusing of lighting.

Shortly after he completed the extensive year-long training, Mr Pirah not only graduated with a WSQ Higher Certificate in Technical Theatre, he also landed a job at The Esplanade as a technician for sound. 

In his current role, he provides valuable technical support in the mounting of stage productions and other events for the arts centre.

The job has given him the opportunity to showcase his talent, be creative, as well as work with visiting foreign sound crews.

When asked about his future plans, he says he hopes to oversee the creative direction of stage production for a children’s musical one day.

What it takes

The technical theatre industry is driven by people with a passion for the arts and a talent for technical work.

Plans to generate employment opportunities in technical theatre production began with the Renaissance City Plan III by the National Arts Council, which aims to transform Singapore into a distinctive global city of culture and the arts by 2015.

The growing number of arts and theatre venues has also witnessed a growing demand for hosting international visiting productions, big musicals and long-running shows in Singapore.

This, in turn, has brought about the rising demand for talented and skilled technical theatre specialists. 

To meet the industry’s demand, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) appointed The Esplanade as a programme partner to offer the WSQ Higher Certificate in Technical Theatre and a slew of WSQ courses in areas such as stage management and rigging under the Creative Industries (CI) WSQ framework.

For creative individuals who possess a passion for the performing arts and an aptitude for technical work, the technical theatre industry may be just the right place to explore career opportunities.