How did you start in theatre?
I attended an arts-focused secondary school in Australia called St Ursula’s College. After leaving and being unsure about my path, a friend introduced me to a small theatre production that needed help backstage. I still remember discovering there were professional theatre roles that didn’t involve being on stage.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students?
Good communication is key to excellent stage management. If you don’t know how to listen, disseminate information in a clear and coherent way, and then troubleshoot while keeping calm and acting like a true leader, management of any kind is not for you.
What would you change about Irish training?
Like most arts organisations and training institutions, there is a serious lack of funding for
professional training in Ireland. This trickles down to the people running the courses and puts stress on those who are at the coal face.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing students graduate after working hard for years, and then finding excellent professional positions in Ireland and abroad.
And your least favourite?
Getting a good work/life balance can be tricky in any live performance job. Hours are long and sometimes it feels like you haven’t seen daylight in weeks, but things are changing.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
Too many to mention. Having trained in Australia, and worked predominantly in Ireland and Scotland, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the world’s finest artists and production teams. It’s always interesting to notice differences in how cultures make work.
What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
The ability to nurture relationships, build partnerships, trust your colleagues and look after the people you’re responsible for.
Kate Ferris is head of stage management at The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College, Dublin. She was talking to John Byrne