ADC Duty Manager Laura Roque reflects on her time working at the Theatre.
Front of House Log
(Two years and one jinx)
I remember the first time I heard about the ADC Theatre. Only 7 months had passed since I arrived in England, to chase a dream that I’d had since I was 7. Ironic! A colleague of mine invited me to go and watch the improv show Comic Sans Men, but I had to work and then work some more. At that time, I never imagined I could ever work in this theatre!
Months passed, and I finished my first year in University. I had worked every “part-time” job imaginable: pizzerias, coffee shops, sandwich shops, patisseries. Always feeling like I was using almost all my spare time out of Uni in jobs that I gained very little from. I was gaining friendships, discipline, and sometimes good free food, but nothing else. I was grateful to have them, but I knew I needed to find something that would give me the strength to go back to the reason I came here in the first place: I needed the magic of theatre. So I took a leap of faith (with the help of Google) and searched for any jobs in theatre or anything to do with it.
To my surprise, the top search result was ‘ADC Theatre job vacancies available’. I completed the application and went to the interview, which to me felt like it had gone terribly wrong, as my fluency in English has the tendency to crumble every time I am stressed: I guess it’s my Kryptonite. All I recall is a hypothetical question on what I would say if a customer asked my opinion on a family-friendly show to watch. They gave me what felt like 3 seconds, but was definitely more like 5 minutes, to read the theatre’s programme, and the first thing I recognized, I said – High School Musical – as it sounded like something that fits both kids and teenagers. I left the interview, checked the programme again, and saw that the show started at 11pm: maybe not the best choice for a kids show.
Somehow, I must have said some interesting things because I got the job and was asked to start as soon as possible! I started first as Bar Staff, with an eventful first shift: a completely full bar, sold-out shows, and the fire alarm going off. Then came working at the Box Office, where my stories were more virtual, but also unforgettable.
That was in 2018, and it was the first time it felt truly okay to be far away from home.
2019 came fast and I started to work as Front of House staff: without a doubt in my top 2 roles at the ADC. With Front of House you feel a little bit like a Robin to Batman (in a good way): you get to help on all fronts, but with less of the responsibility. After that, I had the opportunity to work as a Duty Manager: the other role in the top 2. It’s all the responsibility but with a great learning curve. Front of House is probably where the matinée jinx began.
It was, in the moment, 100% pure chaos, but in hindsight 100% good. I am going to try to summarize its presence with a story:
It was a sunny morning, I was on my way to a matinée duty shift, full of energy and focus. Imagine Maria in The Sound of Music, running up the hills. I got in and went about my responsibilities. Everything was going well, which wasn’t typical. The show was sold out, of course. My shift started with the box office machine not working, then a strangely busy bar, a delay to the start of the show, and when I could finally open the door to let the audience in: 5 wheelchair users and 5 companions that were not in our booking system, waiting in line. From then on, it was almost like a real live version of Tetris: swapping seat E5 with seat B3, taking out A11 and A12 and replacing those with H3 and H4. Then there was a gentleman that didn’t fit in his seat, so I switched him with another person in a different seat. Pure adrenaline and ten minutes later the show was starting. It was real-life theatre, to say the least, but looking back it was great, everyone was understanding, all staff were incredible and helpful and we laughed for 5 minutes after, while the lights were finally on and we could hear a happy audience laughing from a distance.
This is what it was like working in the ADC: there is no better way to explain it. A storm, small or large, comes once in a while and we are all ready and working as a team to solve it and have a laugh about it later.
It has and it is still teaching me great things. I will forever cherish this opportunity, to work in a creative and artistic environment, where I could see shows unfold in front of my eyes and share it with a team of talented, hard-working and fun individuals.
The immigrant inside of me, that will always be there in some amount, felt for the first time integrated while working in the ADC Theatre.
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