Stage manager Phil Parrett: ‘Be kind and everything will be fine’
My first job was in 2016 as stage manager, lighting and sound operator for In/Out (A Feeling) at the Hope Theatre in Islington. The play was written by Andrew Maddock and directed by Niall Philips and Ashley Winter and starred Alex Reynolds and Nicholas Clarke. The opportunity came completely by chance.
As part of my drama and theatre arts course at St Mary’s, I had decided to take the technical route in the last half of my third year, which meant I had to work on placements. I was sitting in my flat printing about 50 CVs ready to hand out around London theatres the next morning, when my friend Cagla Temizsoy rang. She was the lighting designer on the show and they needed a stage manager and operator for the opening, which was less than 24 hours away. I turned up early the next morning to run a tech and dress rehearsal and we managed to get the show up for its first night. I was very nervous, having up until this point never worked on a professional show. However, I used my nerves to my advantage to keep me on my toes.
I learned a lot of things working on this show, not least the power of networking in the industry. After each show, I would try to network with people who had stayed behind, make contacts and see where it went. As a result, I ended up working on other shows.
My advice to anyone starting out is if you keep a calm, cool and professional head, you can operate and stage-manage a show of any size even at short notice. Use what you learn, be kind and everything will be fine. Also, don’t be scared to approach film and stage crews and talk to them. On many occasions I have walked up to them, had a chat about the industry and ended up handing over a CV or email address so they know who I am. Whoever you work for, from your first job onwards, keep them as a contact because they may well put your name up for other jobs in the future.
CV: Phil Parrett
Training: St Mary’s University, Twickenham
Theatre includes (as stage manager): At Hope Theatre, London: In/Out (A Feeling), The We Plays, Data. At St Mary’s University Theatre for Teenage Cancer Trust: Four Funerals, Other People. The Witches of Eastwick, Tempest in a Teacup
Phil Parrett was talking to John Byrne