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Interview with award-winning stage manager Jen Raith

Jen Raith was the winner of the stage management prize, sponsored by The Stage, at this year’s Technical Theatre Awards. She tells Georgia Snow about her role.

What is a typical day like for you?
If we are in rehearsals, it’s a case of making sure everyone is set up with what they need to do, with props and any set that we’ve got. We get the call times up on the notice board. Often you have between 20 and 40 cast members, as well as musicians, so throughout the day I make sure the rota is running on time. Once you’re into production it’s very much more health and safetybased, keeping your eyes and ears on everything. You’ve then got dressers, crew, chaperones potentially. I call it the backstage ballet.

Have you worked on tours?
I have. I do enjoy touring, but I very much enjoy being at home in my flat in London. I’ve been here about seven years. I moved here from Scotland for work – there was more opportunity – but I’ve toured a lot. Altogether, I’ve toured for about eight or nine years. I’ve toured internationally, as well. I worked on Let It Be at the Prince of Wales Theatre and the Savoy Theatre in the West End, and when I was at the Savoy I was also tour manager on Let It Be abroad, so I was flying off to Moscow, Monaco, all over Germany. I really enjoy that side of the job and getting the chance to visit all these different places.

What has been your favourite show to work on?
I’ve been varied in the type of shows I’ve done, but I do prefer musicals. I think Shrek the Musical, which I did for two years on the road, was a special one. We did it in London but it had never been out on tour before, so we didn’t know how it was going to function. Shows really differ on tour – you’re not just dealing with the variable of a building, you’re also working with local staff, crew and dressers, so a lot of people that didn’t know the show. We were on the road for such a long time, it became very special. It did become a bit of a baby for us and we had a lot of fun.

Are you excited to be working on the new David Bowie musical Lazarus?
I’m a massive Bowie fan, so this is quite a special project. The new theatre we’re in adds something as well. You’re not just creating a show, you’re creating a building as well, so there are the trials and tribulations of that. Although this is the kind of production that doesn’t need to be in a playhouse or an opera house, it fits quite well in a space that feels quite different to walk into. It’s certainly not a traditional musical. But it’s Bowie, it’s going to be fabulous.

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