This year at Investec Opera Holland Park (OHP) we’re excited to be welcoming Katie Bingham back to the team as Head of Stage for the 2018 season. Last year she worked with us as a Stage Technician, and this year she’ll be taking on more responsibilities as she manages the team who are in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly with building, finessing, and managing our four fabulous sets for the OHP 2018 Season.
We caught up with her just before International Women’s Day, to find out more about her career, her motivations, the challenges she’s faced as a woman in the industry, and why she’s excited for her new role at OHP!
Tell us a bit about your career so far – what have your highlights been and what are you most proud of?
Being asked to be Head of Stage for OHP is certainly up there with the highlights. My summer last year, as a Stage Technician with OHP, was such a great experience, working with a fabulous team of people. I learnt so much during the three months, which I hope to bring to my new role this year. Other highlights would have to include taking a production of Man to Man to Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York last year, and, more recently, a touring production of Eugene Onegin with Mid Wales Opera.
Who are your female role models in the industry, and why?
A definite role model for me would have to be Jacqui George, a South Wales and London-based Production and Stage Manager. I think she has great qualities as a strong, female practitioner in the industry: confident, calm, approachable and level-headed, with a good work/life balance.
Do you think you’ve faced any barriers in your career because you’re a woman?
As a young woman in a male-dominated industry I think there is often a feeling of trying to prove yourself when it comes to your ability in manual handling, knowledge in equipment, and dealing with the day-to-day banter. I am lucky to not have experienced major discrimination, but there have been a few frustrating moments when male members of the team went out of their way to ask fellow males to borrow their tools, or help them lift set pieces, when I was standing right next to them. As a female, this makes you feel completely disregarded. I personally take it as a challenge to prove them wrong.
What changes would you like to see in your industry to make it more accessible for women?
The list is endless. It would be lovely to see more females working and being paid as equals in male-dominated roles, where they can be role models for other women, for example as Technical Managers or Heads of Stage. Having more females on interview panels will aid this and create a more rounded viewpoint. Although it’s imperative to employ the right person for the job, I think it’s important to keep considering the equality of the employees.
What are the benefits of working at OHP as a woman, compared to elsewhere in the industry?
Last year’s season was my first experience of fulfilling a whole job completely in London, and I was pleasantly surprised. At Opera Holland Park, everything, not just gender-based circumstances, feels very equal. It’s down to your personal abilities and strengths, regardless of whether you are male or female. It’s a genuinely lovely company to work for.
What advice would you give to women who want to work in a role like yours?
I would encourage women to have confidence, to be proud, and to stand strong regarding their abilities and opinions. Working hard and beating challenges shows you off in the best light. Whenever I feel frustrated or disregarded, I remember an article I read recently that said: ‘never give up, you’ve still got a few people to prove wrong’, and that is what I channel to keep motivated and focussed.
Any final thoughts?
One of my favourite quotes is: ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’, a phrase adopted by the feminist movement in the US, and it’s something that motivates me to work hard, to keep achieving, and to be the best I can be. I am so proud to be OHP’s Head of Stage.