With The Old Vic’s front of house staff taking to the stage, our theatre columnist is making like John from Accounts doing the running man at the office Christmas party and celebrating hidden talents…
I have about three strings to my bow. Okay, it’s more of a plait than a bow. OK, fine, it’s a cheese string.
So it is with a fragrant mix of admiration and boiling envy that I read about The Old Vic’s Hidden Talents of the Ticket Tearers showcase this Friday. For those of you too busy writing your novel while building a 3D working model of the Mary Rose and inventing a new flute to have caught this, on Friday 24 August The Old Vic are handing the stage over to their very own front of house staff. The aforementioned ticket-tearers will be performing what the press release calls, “everything from fringe comedy and festival-ready music acts to vintage dance moves and soul-stirring vocal performances”. Sickening isn’t it?
But as the great swathe of you who are working in a theatre serving drinks, selling programmes, checking coats and showing powdered old women to their seats will attest, there’s talent in them there front of house staff. Not to mention charm, patience, a head for figures, quick wit and the myriad other hard-to-define skills that spring so many of us from aspiring to applauded.
There are talented people strewn all across the world of “real work” like paperclips and bad coffee. As we’ve mentioned before, restaurants, training offices, reception desks and shops are stiff with young creative people trying to pay their bills. It’s almost as if the creative arts are highly competitive and poorly paid.
But there is something particular about working at a theatre that seems to suit performers, playwrights, producers and directors. Just ask Nick Payne, who worked as an usher in The Old Vic and at the National Theatre bookshop while launching his writing career. Or Old Vic New Voices’ Education Manager Bryony Roberts, who started her Old Vic career pulling pints in their Pit Bar.
Firstly, apart from the odd matinee, working at a theatre leaves your days free to write, go to workshops, hold meetings, rehearse, practice crying in the mirror, lie in a bath of ice thinking about heartache or whatever it is you creative types do while I’m making tea and Googling Sean Paul. Secondly, unlike working in a bank or a solicitors office, getting a job at a theatre means that you will probably spend your shifts surrounded by like-minded people. You’ll hear about auditions, meet potential collaborators, get the gossip and, from time-to-time, watch established stars get so pissed that they trip over their own feet. Inspiring and entertaining!
So, while it’s lovely to hear that a big theatre like The Old Vic recognises the creative talent of their off-stage staff, I can’t help but wonder what it says about the state of the creative industries that so many talented people can’t give up their so-called “money job”?
Maybe, in the competitive world of creativity, you just have to take a ticket and wait your turn.
For special £5 tickets to Hidden Talents of the Ticket Tearers, visit our Discounts page.
For more articles, jobs and opportunities, visit the Performing Arts hub.