"I’m always surrounded by incredibly talented, assiduous people ..."
What’s your name?
What do you do?
I am a freelance Stage Manager. At the moment I’m based at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. People ask me what a stage manager actually does and it can be a pretty tricky job to explain because each theatre and each show is so different, but in a nutshell I co-ordinate the practical side of a theatre production, and I look after the acting company. The Royal Exchange is a wonderful place to work as I’m always surrounded by incredibly talented, assiduous people. It can be quite a different story being on tour though, rinsing actors’ tights in a youth club kitchen in Slough, for instance.
Where do you live?
In a flat in sunny Salford with an exceedingly lazy cat.
Tell us the story of how you ended up in Manchester.
I’m originally from a small village in East Yorkshire. I studied Theatre Studies at Bolton University (then Bolton Institute) but I seemed to spend more time in Manchester than Bolton so I moved here in my final year. After I graduated, work (and love) took me to Glasgow for a few years but I ended up back here in 2002. My job takes me all over the country (and occasionally the world) but my base is – and I think always will be – right here.
What’s great about this city?
Manchester is a tremendous, throbbing, cosmopolitan, gritty, radical, creative, exciting, soulful city, and it can be really quite beautiful. I work away a lot, but I always long to come home. As soon as I see the Beetham Tower from the train window I kind of breathe out. There’s something quite magical about the place. I love how I’ve lived here for years yet I’m never short of something new to do or see. It’s a cliché but Manchester really does have almost everything ... except a beach (I know, I went for it, I’m sorry...).
What’s not so great?
Having just said that it’s beautiful, Manchester does have some seriously ugly buildings. Piccadilly Gardens is undervalued and grotty but it could be such a beautiful civic centrepiece. Also the amount of litter around the place can be appalling.
Do you have a favourite Manchester building?
I may be biased but the Royal Exchange never fails to take my breath away, even though I’ve worked there for years. The old Daily Express Building on Great Ancoats Street is also beautiful. Given that it’s around eighty years old, it hasn’t dated one iota. I’d love to have seen its impact on the Manchester skyline back then. It must have looked very ‘Metropolis’.
Do you have a favourite Mancunian?
I’ve a few: Les Dawson, Liam Curtin, Victoria Wood, Nicholas Hytner, Caroline Aherne; and why the heck we don’t make more of Emmeline Pankhurst and Alan Turing in this city I will never know...
What’s your favourite pub/bar/club/restaurant/park/venue?
I’ve always loved the Whitworth Art Gallery. It has some amazing exhibits and it’s a lovely place to wander round. The Royal Northern College of Music Sunday concerts are great. For drinking, I like Sand Bar, Temple Of Convenience and my local, the King’s Arms in Salford. Sandinista is handy after work and is a popular Exchange hang-out. On The Corner in Chorlton does the best coffee. Food-wise, I’m a big fan of Ning, Samsi, Zouk and I love the amazing Ethiopian food at Habesha.
What do you think is missing from Manchester?
A decent market, a more effective tram system, somewhere to go in the evening that doesn’t involve getting bladdered…
If I was Mayor for a day I would …
Close all the city centre roads and have an enormous, traffic-free festival.
Who else would you like to nominate to answer this questionnaire?
D. Lucille Campbell, lead singer of the ace Manchester-based band Help Stamp Out Loneliness.
Miss Julie by August Strindbgerg runs at the Royal Exchange Theatre from 11th April to 12th May.