I started working in The Lowry’s technical team two years ago and I am privileged every day to go to work and love what I do. I came up here from the south for a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manchester and soon found that I needed work to supplement my student loan. Being a practical sort, I got my first casual tech job at the Palace Theatre in the centre of town.
My first show was the UK tour of We Will Rock You and what an introduction – the load in was a four-day job, 14 hours a day. We unloaded 21 forty-five foot trailers, ran ridiculous amounts of cable, assembled around 15 tonnes of steel and swung most of it from motors on the ceiling – by the end of it I was sweaty, dirty, aching, covered in bruises and utterly enamoured by the whole operation. From then on I flitted between the Palace and Opera House in Manchester, the Edinburgh Fringe, Blitz Communications and a few other places until I found myself here at The Lowry, an entire building full of people passionate about the arts.
I truly believe our technical team is second to none. A group of people resourceful and knowledgeable enough to keep up with three venues, up to 18 productions per week (sometimes two different ones in the same day), huge piles of kit to maintain and testing shifts – early mornings, late nights, over nights, we do them all. They are a fantastic group of guys and I have learnt a huge amount from them. In fact the learning never stops, and it’s one of the best things about working here as there is always something more to learn! Aside from that, they also let me see how shows work, take things apart, play with heavy machinery, make a lot of noise and occasionally set things on fire, so all in all, my job is brilliant!
I have a two-fold role – my main office job role revolves principally around organisation. I collect technical information about the shows we receive and liaise with visiting companies, organise the distribution of our kit to productions and events around the building, work with local authorities on any issues presented by the productions and generally help keep things ticking. Outside of the office I try and see to any of our kit that needs fixing or maintaining and I occasionally still do shows, which is always a fantastic experience – my favourites so far have been Propellor’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and Hugh Laurie’s Copper Bottom Blues Band.
It is incredibly satisfying to literally put shows together – to go from walking into a huge, empty stage space at 7am to walking across the same space just before the house opens, around set pieces and props, feeling heat on your head from lights you focussed and listening to music coming from speakers that just weren’t there before. To be able to get ten of your mates and build an experience for an audience of thousands is fantastic, and even when we walk out onto The Quays with the sun coming up there is nowhere else I’d rather be.