Playhouse Connection – Josh Cartmell

26 Jan 2024


In our latest Playhouse Connection series we sit down with Costume Making Trainee Josh Cartmell, our Regional Theatre Technical Apprenticeship funded by The Mackintosh Foundation

My first experience at the Playhouse

My first direct experience of the Playhouse was visiting the costume department and costume store during my initial interview for the trainee position. Coming from a fashion background, but with a lifelong curiosity and affection for theatre and costume, this was an incredible experience to have a peek behind the curtain as it were; even in an interview setting. Now that I am lucky enough to work within the Costume department at Leeds Playhouse, it’s wonderful to have a new technical and practical connection to theatre and costume, while having the opportunity to build upon and improve my skillset.


My most recent experience at the Playhouse
My most recent experience at the Playhouse has been working on ‘Oliver!’, from my first day back in September until the end of the run this January. During this short time, I have learned so much from the incredible Costume team here at the Playhouse, specifically within costume making, while generally learning more about technical theatre and how it runs day to day.


Skills I developed while working with the Playhouse
In the short time I have been at the Playhouse I have been taught an incredible amount of fundamental making skills and have had the opportunity to experience other costume related roles such as dressing and costume maintenance. The general day to day tasks predominantly involve sewing and the improvement of my sewing skills, however near the end of making process for ‘Oliver!’, I was invited to help with the breaking down of the costumes with the show’s designer Colin Richmond. This really opened my eyes to the possibility of storytelling and creating depth through textile manipulation, making it one of my favorite elements of the process to date. More recently I have started to develop my skills in pattern drafting based on my own designs, a skill I have wanted to build upon since applying for the traineeship back in July.


If I could give one piece of advice it would be…
Find people who do what you’d like to do, ask them questions and seek out experiences/opportunities. There are no daft questions, and the answers are there, you just need to ask the right people.


My most memorable moment at the Playhouse
My most memorable moment so far was watching ‘Oliver!’ for the first time on stage. Seeing something we have all worked towards for months finally showing to an audience felt incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.


What is next for you or the project
I have another fourteen months in this position and in that time, I will be continuing to learn through working on shows produced by the Playhouse, including: Macbeth, Frankenstein, Here You Come Again, Paranormal Activity and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Alongside working on productions, I will also be designing and making costumes for an external work in collaboration with Leeds based choreographer John-William Watson for my personal project as part of my training.


Three words to describe Leeds Playhouse
Championing, creative and pioneering


With thanks to
This traineeship has been made possible because of funding from The Mackintosh Foundation and support from Chichester College.

Josh at work with the costumes in Oliver!


    Arts Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • LTB Foundation
  • Principal Partner

    Caddick Group
  • Principal Access Partner

    Irwin Mitchell