From Ironwork To Entertainment
By Anna Robb
Patrick Rochette began working as an ironworker on high rise buildings and bridges in Quebec when he was subcontracted by Show Canada for a job in 2006. A few years later, Patrick was looking for a change and approached Show Canada for possible opportunities. They took hired him full-time and since then Patrick has been applying his skills to the world of entertainment. Patrick spent some time with TheatreArtLife on his one day off while on assignment with a theatre installation in Macau.
Patrick, can you tell us a little bit about what Show Canada is and what’s your role within the company?
Show Canada is a fabrication company. We did Rio and Sochi, so most of the stages you saw in the Olympics – that’s Show Canada. I’m the Installation Superintendent. I supervise the team who installs all of the equipment from delivery to talking with the clients and making sure the clients are happy.
How big is the team at Show Canada?
We are more than 400 permanent employees. There are 5 people who do the same job as me on different projects.
Who are your clients?
Right now it’s MGM. I was also working at the Wynn last year. The flower turning in the display – everything in the display is us.
What were you doing prior to working for Show Canada?
All my life I was an ironworker in Quebec. I worked mostly on high rises and bridges, mostly bridges.
How did you transition from that to Show Canada?
I was hired as a subcontractor in 2006 and I needed some change in my life so I want to see Jean (Labadie, President & CEO Show Canada) and he gave me a job.
How long have you been with the company?
Three years now. I worked for them as a subcontractor for the 2006 Asian Games. We installed their cauldron.
Is this something you enjoy more than your previous jobs in the ironworking industry?
It’s different, completely different.
Do you find that it’s more interesting to work in the show business industry?
It’s more entertaining and way more complex.
Can you tell us about your current project here in Macau? What is the machine you’re installing into the MGM?
It’s a video wall with some mechanics in it, two big doors so they can change the display of the theatre and the doors open here and there. Plus we have all the winches and the chain hoists for flying people, gear and theatrical equipment. There’s so many, I don’t know what they’re going to do, there are too many things.
How long are you staying in Macau?
We’re leaving Wednesday and we’re done. Somebody else will take over, mostly electricians.
How long is the MGM project from start to finish, from when it’s contracted to when it’s delivered?
If I remember correctly I was here in November 2015 when they got the contract. So it takes a couple of years on each project.
Have you worked on any ceremony installations?
Yes in Qatar. It was a five-story high steel building with a shaft. The cauldron was hiding inside that building and it was lifted about 100 feet in the air with a big flame.
Do you have a team of designers who do that?
Yes, so the clients arrive and they want to fabricate something. They have an idea and the team puts together a machine or whatever type of device they want. Usually, we end up with the projects that the other companies don’t want to do. If it’s impossible to do, we do it.
When a design comes in and isn’t working, is it your role to go back to the designers and tell them?
I’d like to have time for that but often, I’m too late. But my boss, he plays that role.
The Qatar project was a temporary installation, does Show Canada pull it down once the event is done?
Yes, it’s in the contract.
Where does the installation go when it’s done?
I don’t ask. I know that in Brazil they offered to buy the flame. In Qatar, they installed it in a park, in a roundabout.
Do you ever get to see the end result? Do you get to see the ceremonies on event day?
No, I’m always gone, onto the next project.
Do you have a team that’s there just in case there are any issues?
For the Olympics, we have a support team. For commissions, we make sure all the machines work and after that, the theatre team will start their rehearsal. We have a team with them until they are ready to take ownership of the machine.
Have you always been able to keep to the proposed schedule with the projects you’ve worked on so far?
Yes, I’ve been lucky in that.
Is your current project in Macau more or less challenging than the Qatar project?
I think it’s more challenging because of the limited size of my crew. Right now I have two from Show Canada and one from our sister company. But at the peak, we were 11.
Is there a difference in your role when the job is permanent versus temporary?
The structure of a temporary installation is pretty much the same as a permanent one. But the electricity and everything is removable.
You do not get to spend a lot of time at home, do you?
I saw my wife 18 days last year, not in a row. Right now I am going to get the shop ready for the next job. The shop is about an hour from my home so I will have a good month at home. We have a small farm and my wife bought herself a small shetland pony. Now that the snow is melting it’s getting under the fence, so I have to rebuild the fence.
Since you’ve been working for Show Canada, do you have a favourite gig that you’ve done with them?
I’ve only done four jobs with them so far. I’ve worked on projects in Qatar, Macau and Canada but I haven’t done enough yet to have a preferred one.
When you go to these places for months at a time, what do you do when you’re not working?
Usually, I only have one day off. So I don’t explore much, I rest. I was lucky enough to bring my wife over recently and we were able to go to Hong Kong for four days. The schedule is really tight.
Do you have children?
Yes, ages 21 and 19. I worked for touring companies so I missed my daughter from 10 to 16. I bought them horses so they loved their dad (laughs). My oldest, Roxanne, is studying to work in rehabilitation and my Isabella wants to work in technical cinema.
Have they every come to visit you on a project?
Isabella came to Vancouver and Roxanne came in Ottawa.
It must be exciting getting to see places all over the world, although the wife is missing you.
Yes, I’m lucky enough to bring her once in a while. I hope we get a good job in Thailand or the Philippines, someplace really nice (laughs).