Michael has worked on a wide range of festivals, events and productions internationally and locally. Through his experience he has achieved the ability to work in many departments on all aspects from pre-production to de-rig, both management and technical. From first completing a degree in nursing at Dundee, to working as Production Manager and Company Stage Manager to re-stage the award winning show The List, Michael’s journey has been an interesting one.
I understand you have travelled with productions, where have they taken you and what was your best experience?
Without question the best experience has got to have been my six festivals in New Zealand. Great country, great people and a great event with so many different elements. Being in charge of building a stage on a lake, or an ice-rink over a river have definitely been hightlights. But I am lucky to have worked in many different places and events with many different people and so I suppose it’s also the friends and contacts I’ve made professionally through doing each job that make every different one a worthwhile experience. Other pretty unforgettable events have to be the Perthshire Amber festival and the ‘New Year’s Dive’ in Holland.
How did you first get involved with production management?
I suppose I first got involved with it when I was working in New Zealand in 2007, which is where I was to spend the subsequent six winters working on the Queenstown Winter Festival. I was lucky enough to get asked back after my first year as production assistant, and worked my way up to production managing the festival for the last four years. Also, upon returning to the UK each year, my time at Perth Theatre working with the brilliant stage management and production teams there developed my interest and experience in theatre production management, which I then took to other roles in other places.
What are the stages you go through in organising a show as Production Manager?
Coincidentally – making lists is a big favourite of mine, which is why there are certain sections of the play that I can scarily identify with. Then it is just a matter of building a schedule, knowing the time and budgetary constraints, ticking tasks off and keeping in contact with all the necessary people to ensure everyone knows what has to happen and by when. I sincerely hope that I don’t leave anything off one of my lists as the consequences of such an action are the point of the play.
How did you get involved with Stellar Quines?
I was initially introduced to Stellar Quines through a relative in the business, but have subsequently found the usual case that everyone seems to know everyone and there are actually lots of links that could have been made at one time or another.
What has been the most promising play you’ve managed so far? For what reason?
I very much enjoyed Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me as a play, as well as being on the book for it. Also Moonlight and Magnolias was another great experience with some fun challenges – and that’s usually what makes a show memorable. Usually every show has something unusual to tackle, and there are so many other plays that I have gotten very attached to it is hard to put one at top of the list. Regarding promising, I tend not to judge in that aspect – I will work just as hard to make every show a success and end up thinking they are all promising in some way. There are lots of plays I’d love to see (or work on) again though – Tam O’Shanter and Irma Vep are favourites from years ago.
What have you found has been the most challenging task in managing the production of The List so far?
Taking on a show that has won awards and is already established as an excellent piece of work, with a great group of people involved and ensuring it meets those people’s standards and expectations again (plus my own) is definitely the most significant personal challenge.