Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Bolton Backstage - Ticket Office

Further to recent posts about Bolton Backstage and Theatre careers (you can read more here) next up is the department that represents the face of the Octagon - Ticket Office. Although there is many a friendly and welcoming face at Ticket Office, I can't think of a face that fits better than our Ticket Office and Customer Service Manager. Ladies and gentiles, may I present (drum roll please) Mrs Marie Irving-Murphy.


Marie Irving-Murphy


What do you do?
I am the Head of the Ticket Office and Customer Service at The Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

How long have you been at it?
I have worked at the Octagon for 16 years.. I am hoping for a large gift as sign of appreciation if I make it to twenty. I started in the Box Office then became Front of House Manager. I have been a member of the Senior Management Team in my current position for around the last 6 years.

Ed: after 20 years service they should give you the theatre!!

What was your very first role in the theatre?
I started as a part-time Box Office assistant, 11 hours per week, someone’s maternity leave… I don’t think she’s coming back.

Have you got qualifications?
A degree in English Literature and Psychology. A weird combo but I quite liked the sound of BA/BSc (Hons)!

What did you do before you worked in theatre?
Part-time jobs whilst studying, bar-work, waitress, jewellers and Athena. Joy!

How did you make the move to working in theatre?
Completely by chance – was looking for a second a part-time job to fit in around my degree and bar-work. But once I started here that was it – hooked! Cheesy but true.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never knew, I did toy with the idea of being an antique dealer or an estate agent!

What do you do all day?
I oversee the running of the Ticket Office, Stage Door and Front of House teams so it’s a lot of staff to rota, motivate and keep an eye on! Most of my day is spent dealing with ticket sales (I am even on the Ticket Office counter selling tickets for a number of hours a week!), the computerised ticketing system and on-line sales, generating reports for finance, dealing with customer enquiries and complaints, liaising with the Communications department re mailing extractions and direct mail letters, and ensuring the smooth running (whilst delivering with the highest standards of customer care!) of the ‘public face’ of the Octagon!

We recently went on sale with our new season so the shows I have put on the system take us to the middle of next year!

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people and the energy at the Octagon. If people are in it for the money they go elsewhere! The people who work here do so because they enjoy it – they are passionate about what they do and are fiercely loyal to the Octagon and what it produces.The majority of shows we produce ourselves, so you see the rehearsal process, the set construction and then the 3.5 week run, and then just as that show opens, the next one starts rehearsing. It’s full-on but it means work is never ever dull!

It’s relentless and the bar is constantly raised higher and higher. Audiences are at their highest ever, with more and more bookers attending for the first time. We have to ensure they will want to come back again!

And the worst?
There genuinely isn’t much of a downside. I’m lucky in that I love my job and don’t ever wake up thinking I don’t want to go to work today!But funding cuts are always a worry and it’s hard to know to what extent current economic issues such as the crashing housing market, fuel crisis and escalating energy costs, will impact upon audiences theatre attendance – nights out are the first thing we cut back on when times are hard! So it makes for an uncertain future professionally.

What’s your dream job in theatre?
I think I’m doing it. I get to spend my days selling tickets to see make-believe, often to someone that has lived in Bolton for 30 years but has, until now, never stepped foot inside their local theatre!

They then want to come back, again and again and can’t believe what they have been missing all these years.You can’t ask for better than that!

Got any wise words for someone who wants to be where you are now?
I doubt it’s a role that someone claims they want to do when they grow up, but they should because it’s great! Get involved in theatre as soon as you can, either on placement or as a volunteer or as an usher. You won’t look back…


Post a Comment