In this series we’re taking you behind the scenes at The Marlowe to meet our brilliant staff team. Previously we’ve found out about Deputy Stage Door Keeper Will Millar, Creative Projects Officer Andrew Dawson and Arts Marketing Trainee Nadia Newstead. Now, it’s the turn of Programme Administrator Marissa Garbo.
How long have you been working at The Marlowe Theatre?
I started working at The Marlowe in April 2013 as a member of the Front of House and Box office team in a zero hour and then a full time capacity. I then moved in to the role of Programme Administrator in September 2014.
What does a typical day for you look like?
It’s quite varied, which is nice, and can be anything from liaising with producers of the shows, working out the programme [calendar of booked shows] with the Theatre Director, drafting and issuing contracts, negotiating deals, working on performance schedules and ticket prices with our Head of Marketing, and in the midst of all this replying to the many enquiries that we have come through!
What inspired you to work in theatre?
I had always been involved with youth theatres, drama and dance classes and amateur societies as a child and naturally progressed into doing Drama and Theatre Studies at GCSE, A Level and University.
I originally wanted to go into performing but throughout University I learnt a lot more about the practical and business side of theatre and really enjoyed the process of putting a performance on. In my final year of University I specialised in producing where I got the opportunity to do some work experience and internships with a theatre venue and opera company in London. I then decided that was what I wanted to do.
How did you get to where you are today?
Through getting as much experience in the industry as possible from work experience and internships and trying to learn as much as possible. Working at The Marlowe really helped in giving me the grounding experience and knowledge of how a theatre runs both front of house and backstage. It’s not an easy industry to get into but as long as you persist with it, work hard and keep asking questions, eventually the right doors will open.
What is the best part of your job?
Getting to help decide and develop our programme, and seeing how shows and projects we put on really inspire and give audiences an amazing experience. That’s what makes the job worthwhile.
And what frustrates you about the job?
There are so many great productions out there and not enough weeks in the year so it’s hard to fit it all in and get the balance right. It’s frustrating when you can’t take something good or make it work.
Outside of work I…
I’m a keen Ballroom and Latin Dancer and attend classes. I go and see quite a lot of shows around London and the South East as well as at The Marlowe.
I also own my own company Laid Bare Productions and produce Laid Bare Cabaret at The Marlowe Studio which has been very successful and is continuing to grow.
Favourite production you’ve seen at The Marlowe?
There are so many to choose from but probably Fiddler on the Roof because the whole production from the set to the actor-musicians was so impressive and it was such a high quality show.
I also loved Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I’d never found ballet that exciting to watch and then I was completely blown away and moved by it. I couldn’t believe how he had taken this art form and made it appeal to a modern day audience, made the story come alive, and really made you think deeper about what was going on.
And the production you’re most looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I’ve read the book and am really intrigued as to how they have transferred it from page to stage. I have also heard amazing things about the show from friends and colleagues who have seen it.
Any advice for someone looking to get into theatre?
Get your foot in the door by working in a theatre or getting some work experience. The more you do, the more people you meet and the more opportunities arise.
Ask as many questions as you can from people in the industry to try and learn about the different roles and how it all operates. Theatre is a nice industry and people will be willing to give you advice and answer questions. Be tenacious and be prepared for it to take a while. In interviews I advise to be passionate about what you do, have your own opinion and be yourself.
If all else fails don’t be afraid to take that leap and set up your own company and get your work, ideas and talents out there.