Backstage at The Lowry: Diana Matthews-Gentle, Deputy House Manager

di matthew gentle

My journey with The Lowry started over 14 years ago and has been a truly wonderful experience so far. This is not to say that it has not come with its challenges but with them new understandings, experiences, friendships and many entertaining and memorable moments.

My main role as deputy house manager is to support the house manager and to deputise in their absence. I make many decisions for others, listen and make suggestions, find solutions whilst staying calm, focused and organised and endeavour to handle the unexpected with flexibility and ease. I manage the wide spectrum of needs, expectations and emotions which come with the theatre audiences and the diversity they bring to The Lowry. Theatre duty management takes me behind the scenes to liaise, negotiate and support the visiting companies, it is important to me to be warm, welcoming and professional in my role.

The front of house (FOH) office is always a hub of activity, visitors should always expect the unexpected, from stacks programmes to unusual merchandise, famous people or once hosting an all-day office party, mirror ball and disco lights included.

With all of this the FOH team is relatively small however when the volunteers (nearly 300 in total) are included it becomes the largest department within the organisation. The volunteers (VIP’s as they are affectionately known) are a unique group individuals, dedicated and fabulous, they keep me on my toes, give me tremendous support and are part of my theatre duty management adventures.

I have observed how The Lowry has established its foundations building and developing on them, how it has played host to some of the most exciting and innovative performers, productions, exhibitions and events and how this activity places it firmly on the international map as a leading light in the arts.

From National Theatre to the Bolshoi – we’ve hosted the best in the world, I love the build-up, the energy and ideas that bring so many amazing experiences both local, national and international to The Lowry and the Quays. I have seen so many innovative performances and exhibitions and have been involved in wonderful occasions and events all this makes the job that I do feel so special.

My career path has not moved in a direct line but has been deeply rooted in creativity and what it can bring to life and it is these experiences that can sometimes make things possible for others and which can bring the greatest triumphs.