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Max Hutchinson in The Woman In Black. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

The Woman In Black

Jade Hunter, Deputy Stage Manager, The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre

What was it like being shot by Rankin?

It was really fun. I’ve never done anything like that before and he definitely made me very comfortable and I was really nervous before but it was really fun. He put some music on that I like which is great.

How did you get into your job and what was the process?

I loved theatre from a young age. I used to go to pantomimes all the time so I got into ushering at theatres when I was like 20 and then I sort of just asked backstage if they needed any help and then yeah I got into it from there. I didn’t study stage management; I just sort of worked my way up and did shows and then on the job really.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I think knowing that you’ve made the show happen because I’m pressing all the buttons and making the sound and lights happen and the audience afterwards and sort of knowing that they’ve enjoyed it and knowing you’ve made that sort of whole thing happen with the rest of the team.

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

So I had to take another job. I worked at the supermarket for the whole of the pandemic doing night shifts which was not great but obviously with theatres closed for such a long time we had to kind of take something else. I was really really hoping that they would open sooner than they did but we all had to wait a really long time so now they’re open it’s amazing, like everyone’s in such a good mood all the time and it’s just really nice that we’re getting audiences back in.

How’s it been getting back in the theatre, the experience of being back to work?

Yeah everyone’s been really really excited. The first day of rehearsals was amazing, everyone was so happy to see everyone and everything’s really safe as well, everyone’s you know adhering to all the covid rules and stuff which is great. It’s really nice to have like schools back in because we’ve like a school-based show r because it’s on the curriculum, so getting schools back in is one of our important things and that’s great like hearing the audience reaction for them but yeah being back in the theatre is great it’s like just all the atmosphere is amazing at the moment.

And what’s the main thing you’ve missed about live performance?

I think just hearing like the reactions from audiences. On the first performance that we did back, we all got really emotional because like hearing the applause at the end was just like a thing that we’d all missed so that’s definitely my biggest thing.


Max Hutchinson, The Actor, The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre

How did you get into the industry?

I went to drama school when I was 18 and then graduated without an agent so then had to try to do a few shows on the fringe and then yeah got an agent from there and then started auditioning for stuff.

When did you catch the acting bug?

From when I was like 10 or 11. I was either going to be a policeman or an actor and I quickly sort of didn’t want to be policemen anymore and then I was very lucky to have very supportive teachers who said you should try and go to drama school and luckily my parents were on board with it which is mad of them but also lovely and amazing.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Doing it, like performing, actually just being on stage and sharing experience with an audience who are going through the same thing as you. And I like getting an instant reaction. I like, you know, doing comedy where you get a laugh or for The Woman In Black we get a scream and so it’s really nice to know that you’re having an experience together, definitely.

When you work towards something, or you’ve been trying to audition for something and and you finally get it… You know, sometimes it can take a while to get something and then you eventually do and you get it and it’s the best feeling in the world.

What was it like being shot by Rankin?

It was awesome, he’s yeah, amazing. Just like it was speedy but brilliant as in I suddenly was just like looking at the pictures and going oh how did you do that so quickly that’s very impressive. Yeah that is fantastic it’s such a cool project, it’s fantastic.

What has the journey been like for you from the start of the pandemic to theatres reopening?

I was really lucky because I know that 40% of the industry weren’t eligible for the self-employed income support scheme but I was and so I spent a lot of time with my little boy which was very lucky to spend time with my family. I set up a theatre company as well which maybe without the pandemic I wouldn’t have done and that’s still going and I want to keep it going. We started doing hour-long family friendly Shakespeare adaptations around cricket pitches just out of nowhere, a bit of an idea to do some outdoor theatre and I’ve really enjoyed that so I’ve added stuff to what I do and so I’m very grateful for that but I’m also aware that I was very lucky in many ways.

How does it feel being back in theatres?

Just amazing, like it was kind of surreal the first night our producer Peter Wilson got on stage and had a big speech and toasted you know being back at theatre and just reminding us of you know how lucky we are to be back there and in a very generous and lovely way. And we all were back and working and yeah just feels amazing.

What was the thing you missed the most about live performance?

Well, it’s that sharing in an experience, isn’t it? It’s having people that are there with you gasping, laughing, screaming in our show. You know just having those people with you at the same time. I enjoyed watching all the stuff that came out and all the things that were made and people were incredibly creative and nimble at creating stuff, but having that live experience and all being in the same room is so important.


Emma Robinson, Assistant Stage Manager, The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre

How did you get into your job and why?

It was quite holistic. So, I started as a designer. I trained in design and I got a lot of work out of Uni as a prop maker and then just over time I found working on the live shows really really exciting. And so stage management – I just kind of fell into it through doing loads of prop work and I’ve kind of just found my feet with it. And over the last sort of five years I’ve been working as an ASM and it’s just so much fun – it’s the best job ever, I’ve really fallen in love with it, yeah.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with the actors and working on the live shows. I love being able to fix problems in a creative way, sometimes under a lot of pressure because you know your actor’s got to go out really quickly and things like that – it’s very in the moment and exciting.

How was it being shot by Rankin?

Oh my god so much fun. He’s lovely and he made me look cool, I don’t usually look cool, that was exciting. It was a really lovely experience, yeah amazing.

What’s the journey been for you from the closure of theatres to reopening?

The last 18 months have been really difficult for so many people but for me personally, I got a job in hospital working as a healthcare assistant and I think it was quite humbling working with people and their very real life problems. I think in theatres it can seem very stressful but they’re not real life problems, working in a hospital everything was very real and I yeah, you know it was difficult. But I feel very proud of our industry, we’re quite a resilient bunch and we’re used to things changing very quickly and I think given that so many of us went on to work as key workers, in supermarkets, hospitals and beyond, I think actually it shows what multi-talented and diverse industry we’ve got.

How is it being back in theatre?

Oh it’s like being home, it’s just so lovely to be back.

And what was the number one thing you missed about live performances?

Probably my colleagues. I love the team that we’ve got on women in black and so it was just joyous seeing them again on that first day back and you know, my colleague Jade it was lovely to see her again and just watch everyone light up as we started rehearsing again, it was great.


Terence Wilton, Arthur Kipps, The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre

When did you catch the acting bug?

Oh, I went to Manchester university, and I met a man there called Stephen Joseph who started Theatre in the round in the north of England and he gave me my first job at Scarborough Theatre in the round and I’ve been doing it ever since then. It’s been quite a long journey and I’m very lucky to be doing what I’m doing now.

What was it like to be shot by Rankin?

Oh that was fun, that was surprising. He decided I was the reincarnation of James Mason so that came in so yes I haven’t used my fisticuffs in photographs for years but that was quite a new experience, yeah it’s great.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Oh, [being] back with audiences. No one can tell you quite what that means. It’s a different kind of adrenaline or drug or something and we missed it for 560 how many days and I was astonished and surprised about just how I felt at home. It’s my environment on a stage and playing with an audience and playing with fellows and whatever and we’ve missed it.

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

I’ve been very lucky I have an allotment so I’ve grown hundreds of veg, we’re almost self-sufficient in veg for my family. I have a growing up family so I have to keep them fed. I’m very lucky I’ve got a daughter who’s about to do her a-levels and my son’s at imperial college doing mechanical engineering and they are astonishing. I love them dearly so I’ve been lucky – I’ve had family, an allotment and I’ve had things to do, and I’ve been writing.

What’s the thing you missed the most about live performance?

It’s very difficult to quantify what that is. I think I called it a drug earlier and I suppose it’s not vanity, it’s adventure. It’s actually just having an adventure to go and do and start afresh every night and rebuild it and yeah that was taken away [during lockdown].