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My Other Job: Cassandra Lyons, West End box office sales

Cassandra Lyons
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What’s your other job?

I’m a casual sales advisor for TKTS, the discount booth for Society of London Theatre tickets in Leicester Square.

How and when did you get into it?

When I was raising funds to go to Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, I did two years full-time at the National Theatre box office. Two years ago, I came off a really bad tour where nobody got paid. My personal life and relationships had hit the buffers. I met a friend from when I worked at the National, who by then was working at TKTS. I cried into his jacket potato and curiously enough he told me of a casual position at TKTS.

What happens if you get an audition?

SOLT is, rather predictably, very understanding of those of us pursuing careers. There’s quite a big pool of casuals too, so we can try to swap among ourselves or sometimes have a bit of the day off. Sometimes, however, the needs of the business will come first; if it’s a matinee day and a few of us need it off, not everyone’s requests can be accommodated.

And what if one of those auditions turns into an acting job?

I once went off on tour almost overnight, meaning that I couldn’t give them any notice. I let them down and wasn’t expecting to be able to go back, but I was lucky and they gave me a job when the tour was finished.

What makes it a good other job for you, as an actor?

There are a few reasons. The biggest perk for me is that quite often we are invited to the shows. I jump on every opportunity; I wouldn’t be able to afford to see half as much stuff otherwise. For me, this is worth much more than a clothing allowance when I’ve worked in retail. I also get to work not just with other actors, but with writers, directors, producers, designers, PR folk, drama therapists, sculptors, carpenters, accountants and Instagram stars. We’re quite good at being a little rent-a-crowd when someone is doing a show, and the other actors are great for advice about things like headshots and agents.

What other ‘other’ jobs have you had?

I worked in the bookshop at the National on and off for seven years. I loved being there, maybe too much. I’m in love with that building, but I realise now that I went in the wrong capacity and got to know everyone in the wrong capacity. I’ve also been a dresser, which I’m not sure I could do again. It almost broke my heart using a stage door and a green room, but not as a member of the cast.

Would you recommend your other job to other actors?

Yes. Even if I could afford not to work, I like the structure of having something to do. Meeting and talking to new people is never a bad thing.