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Barbican

Julian Fox, Stage Door Keeper, Barbican

How did you get into your role? 

I got into [this] role about 23 years ago when, I was working covering a friend of mine at Barbican -they asked if I would cover someone on stage door and ‘I said I’ll do it for three months’, and 23 years later, I’m still there. 

What’s the best thing about your job, what’s made you stay that long? 

It’s a good job to balance your London life with. I was really interested in theatre and it was a great job to have to be so close to theatre.  

What’s the journey for you from theatres closing to theatres reopening? 

I was on stage door on the 16th of March, when we closed the doors. We shut it, and then we put up a sign outside at stage door saying ‘the stage door is now closed until further notice’. I remember that’s that night, [I was] with one of the producers and we were the last people in the building.  

It was very strange. I went to pub afterwards and we thought it was going to open a couple of months later. When we cancelled shows up until May the 2nd I remember thinking ‘wow, that’s such a long time away’ and then it kept getting later and later.  

Lockdown, I have very mixed feeling about because I was furloughed and I had my summer evenings free – I normally work evenings. So last year I had summer evenings to sit in Brockwell Park and spend time with boyfriend and so for me, it wasn’t a horrific experience. I was very lucky in a lot of ways, I was paid and I had summer evenings to see the sunsets – it was a new experience. 

What’s it like to be back in theatres? 

We went back last September for bits and bobs and then the first production opened in June – Anything Goes. Again [I had] mixed feelings. But people were very excited about the production happening and theatres reopening. The castand the and the orchestra and the band who had been without money for 18 months; you could feel their sense of excitement about reopening again. 

So my own personal experience was different to the bigger picture. But the first performance of Anything Goes was the preview and that was quite exciting to see. People just cheering when the band started and that was something quite exciting to witness.  

What was the number one thing you missed about live performance?  

I guess it’s the whole thing of the night out, being amongst [people], going up to town, being excited by that art form. But I did discover Netflix, which was also exciting!! 

Theophillus ‘Godson’ Oloyade, Dancer, Boy Blue, Barbican

How did you get into your career?

I started when I was 14 at Boy Blue Entertainment just training, growing and then I went professional when I was 18. Did my first gig with T-Mobile, called EE now, and then just started pursuing and going to different auditions and just living and dancing the dream.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I’m able to be unapologetically myself. I think that’s one thing about my job that I really enjoy. I wake up every day and I’m just excited to get to work because my work is my passion.

What was the journey like for you from theatres closing to reopening again?

When the theatre industry closed, I thought it was going to be something like just for two weeks and then everyone would get back to it but it’s the whole 18 months and that took a mental strain on me even more so than anything because just getting promised that we were going to go back soon and not going back, so the level of uncertainty for me, it was nerve-racking. I had to create some sort of certainty for myself so just creating my own timetable during the time and just sticking to that helps me massively and then obviously eventually getting back into the shows, a breath of fresh air and just felt amazing just to be back on stage you and getting back to what I really love doing.

What was it like being back?

Weird actually. Just seeing people again and having that interaction on stage to audiences, it was actually quite surreal. It felt like the pandemic almost didn’t happen as well. I don’t know the best way I can probably describe it is like I’ve just been dipped into a swimming pool and then came back out like a year and some months later like oh, okay that happened and we’re here now. So yeah, very weird.

What was the number one thing you missed about live performance?

The number one thing I missed would have to be just performing, I think. Just being able to express myself first and foremost and then what people were taking away from it, so that connection, that communication in that kind of format was definitely something I missed because I don’t know what it is about just performing but it’s almost like an exhale for me. Just to release and let go of any tension, stress etc.