Production & programming for a theatre

 13 November 2017

Natalie Sinnadurai is the Production & Programming Administrator at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds. She explains what she does for her role and what work experience, education and training are helpful for getting into this career.

For the production aspect of my role, I make sure that auditions run smoothly and then contact the individuals that have been cast.  

I recruit chaperones for our pantomimes and create their rotas. I also look after our Young Chorus for the pantomimes and make sure that the auditions run smoothly for these and that we have the correct child licenses and policies.

I also book our touring productions by compiling and approaching a list of suitable venues and then negotiating deals and fees with them.

For the programming side, I make sure that our brochure is up to date and has the correct touring and venue information.

My role is enabling – the stuff I do ensures that the exciting stuff happens on the stage or in the community!

Our box office has all the information it needs for their reports and the Technical and Front of House manager are aware of the needs of visiting and hiring companies.

I also look after our contracts and make sure these are sent and dealt with quickly and filed correctly.

My key administration duties are to provide administrative support to the Finance & Administration Manager, Artistic Director, Finance Director & Creative Learning Team. 

I place recruitment adverts on the appropriate channels and process the incoming applications and co-ordinate the interviews and the shortlisting.

I also look after the company diary and make sure every team member is up to date with the latest shows and event information.

I look after our access performances by scheduling them, making sure we have the appropriate equipment and that we have Sign Language Interpreters, Captioners and Audio Describers booked if need be.

My other administrative tasks are to process the post, maintain and order our stationery, refreshments and other supplies.

What skills are needed for this role? 

  • Good time management
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Confidence to ask for advice and help
  • Ability to use initiative and be proactive
  • Methodical
  • A good eye for detail
  • Able to work in a team
  • Good at recognising your own and your colleagues’ strengths
  • Able to take instruction

Previous work experience? 

My first job was as a secretary and then I have worked in various administrative roles.

By moving from job to job, I was able to gain lots of experience and take on more responsibilities.

What education and training have you done? 

My original ambition was to be a dancer and so I trained in this until I was 17. 

I auditioned for dance schools but wasn’t successful so gave it up completely, which I shouldn’t have.

The pleasure I get from my job is working as a team and being a significant a cog in the running of the theatre. 

I didn't know about the existence of performing arts degrees but if I had, I definitely would have taken up one of those.

I ended up taking A Levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Biology because they involved the least amount of writing. 

I then got a place at Plymouth Polytechnic and got a degree in Biological Sciences.

As I really did want to work in the arts, I realised I could be an administrator.

I decided to start from the bottom and took a postgraduate course in personal assistant skills which included typing and shorthand.  

Throughout my career I have taken other courses to develop my administrative skills which include:

  • Time management
  • Management accounts
  • Booking tours
  • Disability awareness

I have also taught myself on both PCs and Macs, as these were being introduced into the working environment during my career.

Tips for a creative career 

Every job has its boring aspects! If the nitty gritty, small, methodical work wasn’t done, then there would be no performances on the stage; no wages or bills would be paid, the building wouldn’t be safe and the productions wouldn’t be scheduled.

The pleasure I get from my job is working as a team and being a significant a cog in the running of the theatre. 

We have a great team at Theatre Royal and every person is very skilled at what they do and respects their colleagues for their strengths. 

My role is enabling – the stuff I do ensures that the exciting stuff happens on the stage or in the community!

Each role is integral to the smooth running of a very busy, lively theatre. Especially the cleaners and the volunteer stewards – without whom the theatre wouldn’t be the friendly, welcoming, beautiful and clean venue that it is.


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