Project-managing theatre

 3 February 2011

Jeremy Walker, anĀ assistant project manager and Tracy Gentles, a performance projects manager, talk about starting their careers behind the scenes.

Managing theatre productions

Jeremy Walker
"My main passion in life is design, and I love lighting. But I find in that kind of career, you very much become by yourself.

"It's very difficult to get into the arts, but the people you see out there persevere and they're really energetic about it and really interested and go and see things."

"I found out more about myself by becoming more of a production manager and being more of a team."

Tracy Gentles
"I work between Clod Ensemble and Fuel and help to produce the work. To go out and try to get bookings for the show and liaise with people. There's a lot of networking.

"There's that element, but there is a lot of the day-to-day booking of accommodation, making sure everyone's got contracts. So there's that sort of producing and tour booking as well as the day-to-day, making sure everything comes together and ready for shows."

Getting into theatre

Tracy Gentles
"From school through to college through to university onwards, I've always been into the arts and that's always been my direction.

"I've had a career that's just always been natural, it's just fitted naturally together rather than switching what I'm doing halfway."

Jeremy Walker
"Because I'm interested in working with people, I very much let that grow naturally. I am freelance, so that very much gives me the opportunity to do other projects and work with lots of people.

"I very much try and keep my relationships growing with all the different companies. Now I can go back to London and work for the Lyric Hammersmith or help at the Greenwich. So my work is really diverse, but it's much more about the relationships I have with people."

Theatre project-managing: difficult but rewarding

Tracy Gentles
"It is hard work, and it does take a lot of stamina, especially when you're somewhere like the Edinburgh Festival.

"It is brilliant, but project-managing is a lot harder work than people think."

"You're having to market, to organise interns, there's so many things on your checklist to go through that you have to be amazingly organised. It is brilliant, but it is a lot harder work than people think, project-managing.

"It's very difficult to get into the arts, but the people you see out there persevere and they're really energetic about it and really interested and go and see things. And when you're young, especially, it's good to just throw everything in there."

Jeremy Walker
"My career has been quite hard from the start, trying to get money. From my first year when I graduated, I made a decision to just break even.

"I stayed at people's places, I stayed wherever the work was. I ended up not having to spend much money, and therefore I could do jobs for £200 a week or whatever, which really isn't much, but it's all that thing of getting your name out there.

"So if you're good and you know you're committed to your work, I think take the risk."

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