An Eye For Art...An Ear For Music...A Story To Tell

Theatre Royal

Stephanie got her first job working at the Theatre Royal by chance after their lighting man went down. "I had a little experience with electrics as I used to have a mess around with the lights at Ilford Palais. A friend of mine was the technician and that was where I first learnt about lighting techniques and displays. I got free club entry and free drinks and got to just watch my colorful eye catching creations on peoples bodies as they moshed!"...(If none of you know, moshing is another form of dance as made up by very drunk rebellers who throw themselves around the dance floor as vigorously as possble whilst crashing into and fighting with as many people as possible!)..."Lucky for me I was in the DJ booth as I don't think I would have survived the dancefloor! Still, it didn't stop the odd beer can here and there being thrown at us! I just used to bend down behind the booth and throw them back randomly into the crowd until I threw one this particular evening that got the manager! He wouldn't have known but somebody had filmed me on their camera throwing it! My days of being lighting queen ended very abruptly!"

At Theatre Royal Stephanie's good friend Chris persuaded the director of lighting to let Stephanie have a go a being follow-spot operator after explaining that she might even be half good. Stephanie worked the follow spot for the first time to the amazement of the backstage crew!  "Right then...Here's tonights schedule, this is the script and this is where you come in!" Stephanie had got the job and was quite chuffed at being told that she was better than the last guy (Wasn't he a dustman though? The Ed) and the best follow-spot operator they had ever had! With only half an hour to go before the show started Stephanie took her position.

The God's

"Tra la la...This is easy!"...Said Steph as she adjusted the followspot..."Now don't forget...Make sure that you keep your head to the side as the machines get hot!"...the stage manager bellowed through the cans!...(Cans...Theatre name for headphones!)...With the lights all low, Stephanie awaited her first cue. Stephanie says..."All of a sudden and out from knowhere comes this little man dressed up to the nines!"...Stephanie wasn't told she was working with Danny La Rue until the break..."I thought it was Elton John with all that gear he had on as I was so far up the top of the theatre in what is called the 'Gods' that I really couldn't tell! All I knew was I was followspot operator on a man in drag!"

Stephanie managed to finish the rest of the show without laughing too much!..."The follow spots were really old fashioned and if you move them a millimetre in the Gods it looks like you're waving them around on the stage! Danny kept making me laugh as it was a comedy show and to make matters worse I had forgot to turn my head to the side and the headphones melted over my hair and jumper. The spots get so hot that they would have melted my ear had I not been wearing the cans!"


Stephanie worked at the Theatre Royal regularly helping out backstage and working the spots and getting into more and more trouble with the stage manager!..."We were doing a really important show once for the BBC. All of our headphones are linked backstage and we are also all connected via a microphone so we can communicate be it something goes wrong! This one particular night we had filmed this BBC show so many times that we all knew the script and where to come in so our hearts weren't beating away as they usually do with nerves on getting it right! Not being allowed to speak over the cans unless it is for something specific to do with the show we do sometimes have a quiet natter if the manager isn't around but I decided that this night I would do a bit of a comedy act as the stage manager was sitting in the audience with a BBC director"...Making everybody laugh with her 'over-dubbing' backstage, Stephanie went through nearly the whole show with her comical suggestions until the lighting tecnician fell asleep on his desk. 

"Back in those days we all used to go to the pub after a show to let off steam! Most nights we'd end back at Christophers house (Another theatre worker) and we'd be up for hours and it must have caught up with our lighting tech!"...Just as Stephanie told yet another joke with such a funny punch line that even she was laughing out loud the light tech fell asleep and nudged the backstage can speakers from off to 'on'..."All you could hear over this BBC show and around the whole Theatre was my big booming voice! The dial had switched to it's full volume and I was laughing so loudly that it woke the light tech back up! Mary our stage manager stood up from where she was sitting and shouted out something that nobody understood but we just knew that by the tone of her voice we were in big trouble!"...The stage manager was nowone to mess with! 'Hairy Mary' as they all called her was a woman of the world and big enough to throw you across the stage if she got hold of you! Nobody apparantly messed with Hairy Mary!

Ghostly Friends

"I didn't get into too much trouble that night really but we did have so many laughs working there! You never know whats going to happen next with live theatre and even the most professional of actors make mistakes sometimes! It's great when the whole of the audience join in with you as we are all part of the show even though we're backstage! During our breaks we'd have to bomb it down to the bottom of the theatre and just about manage to swig a slurp of tea before having to run all the way back up to the top again! I was a lot fitter back then than I am now!"...Stephanie went on to talk about the theatre ghost that used to open doors and if you were lucky you'd see her walking along the hallways..."That's one thing I wont miss! I didn't know that the old lady approaching me along the hallway was a ghost until she passed straight through me! I screamed and ran all the way down the stairs! Justin our light tech knew immediatly what had happened! That was my first introduction to the oldest member of the theatre! I used to hate going up to the Gods alone! It did look quite odd seeing a door open with nobody there but I got a bit more used to her by the time I left!!"...Stephanie had to leave the Theatre Royal due to a move but still keeps in contact with her old friends who work there.