In this series we’re taking you behind the scenes at The Marlowe to find out about our staff. Our previous colleagues under the spotlight have been Creative Projects Officer Andrew Dawson and Arts Marketing Trainee Nadia Newstead. Now, it’s the turn of Deputy Stage Door Keeper Will Millar.
How long have you been working at The Marlowe Theatre?
It’ll be exactly 3 years on 14 September! I started a few weeks before we officially opened; it was still a bit of a building site then.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Stage Door is open before everyone arrives and we close after everyone has left. For a 7am start, I wake up at 5.30am to be at work for 6.50am. The first hour is spent doing the previous day’s paperwork, having a cup of tea and a sing-song with the housekeepers. If it’s a day when a show is ‘getting in’ then it is very busy with cast, crew, postmen and visitors. It’s not a job for those who get flustered under pressure.
There are two full-time staff on Stage Door; Natalie and myself – one of us does a week of ‘earlies’ while the other does the ‘lates’. Week-long shows always ‘get out’ after the show on Saturday – so it’s not uncommon for Stage Door to be here until 5am on the Sunday morning. We couldn’t stay awake without copious amounts of junk food and lots of sugar!
What inspired you to work in theatre?
It was actually quite convoluted. My first dabble at it was aged 11 when I was stage crew for a school production – a post I was urged to fill as I was a very sensible child! Fast-forward four years when a friend of mine mentioned that they built sets at one of the local theatres on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Ever the tag-along, I showed up (aged 15) with a toolbox in hand and a very timid voice.
Within 6 months I was at the theatre every evening building sets, designing lighting plots, running shows – just about everything you can think of. I would literally run from school to the theatre and head home about 11pm to sleep then do it all again the next day. You soon learn how to shout above power tools.
What are your first memories of theatre?
I remember seeing a touring production of Alice In Wonderland at my school when I was 6. I had to be taken out halfway through because I cried when the Cheshire Cat lost his smile. The first professional show I saw was Riverdance at the Hammersmith Apollo in 1996. It remains one of my favourite shows.
What is the best part of your job?
When cast and crew from previous shows come back with different shows. It’s like seeing old friends. There are several Company Managers whom I keep in touch with outside of work.
Outside of work I…
Can you guess? I run my own theatre company – ‘Back of House Theatre Company’ who have hosted two shows in The Marlowe Studio: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (September 2013) and Metamorphosis (April 2014).
I’m happy to say that it has gone from strength to strength and we are currently putting together our new show Horror Box. We’ve written and created something that is the closest thing to a horror film in live theatre form. We’ve been very lucky to receive a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England for this particular production, something that is not easy to come by. It’s a clear indication that the Arts Council are recognising our work and supporting us on our journey.
I’m also an avid magician, musician and aviator – I’m currently working towards my private pilot’s licence.
Favourite production you’ve seen at The Marlowe?
I was dreading this question! There are so many that have been exceptional. If I had to choose one, it would be Some Like It Hip Hop because I went in expecting to be totally out of place (I know as much about dance as Mr Kipling knows about submarines) when in fact I was completely taken in by the story and the staging that I had goose bumps for the majority of the show.
And the production you’re most looking forward to?
Can I say Horror Box? If not, then it has to be An Evening with Roger Moore – the man is a legend!
Any advice for someone looking to work in theatre, or produce their own work?
In regards to producing your own work, if you have a story to tell that you believe in and want to share its message then that is the biggest driver. It gets to a point where you have to tell it because not doing so would be detrimental to your development as a person. I very much believe in the saying “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
I’m very fortunate to be able to work in the theatre world because periods where I haven’t been able to work in it, have been like losing a part of myself. Local amateur theatres are the backbone of your journey – learn from the ground up. I learnt so many skills from being thrown in at the deep end. It’s a long journey but that isn’t a negative; there’s only one way to eat an elephant – a bite at a time.