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Celebrating Grand women working in theatre for International Women’s Day

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It’s a Grand job for the girls! International Women’s Day 2024 is this Friday 8 March with the theme of #InvestInWomen:AccelerateProgress and Blackpool Grand is taking this opportunity to applaud the truly talented women who have worked in this beautiful Grade II* listed theatre over the last twelve months.

Men may continue to outnumber women in the working theatre world, but a growing number of gifted and innovative females are offering a fantastic and diverse collection of skills to help break exciting new ground and inspire the next generation of female theatre employees.

We are shining the spotlight on the roles of just some of the exceptional women who have helped to transform the industry this year as part of Blackpool Grand’s workforce:

Emily Wheeler
Emily Wheeler

Emily Wheeler – Theatre Assistant

I am a Theatre Assistant at Blackpool Grand and my role is to be the first port of call for visiting show companies and any visitors to the theatre and organise where they need to be and if they need any assistance. I am stationed at the theatre’s Stage Door, and I love my job as I get to meet so many visiting stage crews, performers and theatre visitors. It’s so interesting! I am also the main contact for all the visiting show companies and am on hand to help with info and advice for everything from parking to accommodation and even offer tips for nights out in the town! I also assist the Head of Operations with practical theatre matters as and when required and mine is an ever-evolving role which I really enjoy.

Kylie Butler
Kylie Butler

Kylie Butler – Pantomime Director

As Director of last year’s pantomime Aladdin, I worked very closely with the entire production team, cast and crew to bring the pantomime script to life. I planned and conducted all rehearsals; shaped character development; provided constructive feedback, and collaborated with the choreographer and musicians, while considering the set design, costumes, and overall aesthetics. I also allowed the actors the artistic freedom to explore their characters to full comedic effect, which was so well received by audiences! This is a great job for women who love theatre and who have creative vision, strong organisational skills, are good at problem-solving and have a passion for delivering high-quality and entertaining productions.

 

Saffron Pye
Saffron Pye

Saffron Pye – Theatre Duty Manager

As Duty Manager, I oversee a large team of people who work ‘Front of House’ at the theatre to assist and enhance our patron’s experiences throughout any show performance or event. This can include anything from welcoming guests and resolving any seating/ticket issues to organising show merchandise and assisting bar staff. I also liaise closely with the Stage Crew to inform them the house is ready etc, step in to inform the audience if there are any emergencies that require a ‘show stop’ and lock up the building when the curtain comes down. I love my job. It’s so varied and I really enjoy being the central point for people to come to. I think being a female brings a higher level of understanding and empathy for people’s needs and also high multi-tasking skills which are much needed in my role! This is a great job for women who have a passion for theatre and are looking for more than a 9 to 5 role.

Asleigh Allcroft
Asleigh Allcroft

Ashleigh Allcroft – Stage Manager for Pantomime

The Stage Manager is responsible for the seamless execution of all backstage operations during productions. This involves overseeing and organising scene changes and prop movements while always ensuring a safe backstage environment. I also collaborate with the production team to troubleshoot for any issues that arise. I have loved working on Aladdin at The Grand. It’s so great that women are now starting to be seen as equals in our industry after many years of being offered roles that were often seen as more appropriate for us. It’s a great job and I am so happy to see more girls applying for the role.

Kerry Sale
Kerry Sale

Kerry Sale – Stage Technician

I work at The Grand Theatre all year round as the only female Stage Tech for all the live shows and it’s such a great job. I need to be multi-skilled as each show is very different and has specific requirements. Sometimes I can be a Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) and ‘call the show’ and I also take part in each show ‘get in’ and ‘get out’, which can be very physically demanding, but I always hold my own in a male dominated space! It’s hard work but it’s very rewarding.

Laura Catlow
Laura Catlow

Laura Catlow – Deputy Stage Manager for Pantomime

As Deputy Stage Manager, I supported the Director Kylie in ensuring a well-organised and efficient pantomime production. My responsibilities included creating the ‘prompt book’ to call everyone’s cues and run the show; co-ordinating with the technical crew for all sound, lighting, and special effects; ‘calling the show’ throughout the performance so everybody knew exactly where they were meant to be, and creating show reports so that any issues could be resolved for next time. It’s a fast-paced and exciting job that needs a lot of communication and problem-solving skills and I loved every minute of it! Bring on next year!

Amy Brailsford
Amy Brailsford

Amy Brailsford – Sales and Customer Engagement Manager

My role at The Grand is to oversee and manage the Sales and Marketing team with regards to our Box Office customer sales and ticketing system which is a very fast-moving and diverse role which I absolutely love. I also produce extensive show sales reports, analyse data, set seating plans and technical holds, set up promotional codes and offers, manage donations and theatre memberships, upload all the shows to our systems and liaise with external ticket agencies as and when required. This role requires logical thinking, flexibility, first rate communication and high customer care skills, which I think females excel in. It’s the perfect job for women who enjoy working with data but also like to meet lots of different people and help them on their journey through The Grand Theatre experience. 

Jo Cleasby
Jo Cleasby

Jo Cleasby – Cultural Education Manager

My role at The Grand is to build and maintain positive working relationships with local schools and education centres to help bring the Cultural and Education sectors together as part of the theatre’s Creative Learning Team. I also manage our Royal Shakespeare Company Associate Schools programme – working with 15 schools across Blackpool to bring Shakespeare to younger audiences, which is I absolutely love doing and believe is vitally important for young people to be able to access. I also set-up the RSC community programme Shakespeare Nation in Blackpool for the theatre and helped to produce and facilitate RSC 37 Plays week in the region as well as co-producing events for young people across the resort. As a woman I bring excellent organisational and people skills, clear thinking, flexibility and passion to my role and I would encourage more women to think about working in theatre.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities. Visit www.internationalwomensday.com for further information.

Don’t miss all the dazzling stage productions that are brought to you by a whole team of talented women at Blackpool Grand Theatre and #InvestInWomen:AccelerateProgress this International Women’s Day…

Visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk or call the box office on 01253 290190 for full show listings and information.

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