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Production Manager Case Study : Al Parkinson

Al Parkinson

A case study provided by Al Parkinson, a Production Manager listed on Mandy Theatre Professionals UK.

To learn more about Al Parkinson you can view their full CV here.


Question 1: What is the most rewarding aspect of working as a Production Manager?
Realising a design that meets or exceeds the expectations of a creative team.
Question 2: What are the key skills required to be an effective Production Manager?
Great communicator. Good leader. Excellent negotiator. Clear thinker under pressure. Highly organised. Decisive.
Question 3: Do you see your role as a natural step on a career ladder, and if so what is the next rung?
I am currently a deputy production manager at the National Theatre where I occasionally act as PM for shows in house and on tour. The next step would be to become a full time production manager, either here or as a freelancer.
Question 4: How did you work your way into your current role?
I worked as a stage technician, stage manager and rigger before going to Central to do a degree in stage management. I then worked as an assistant stage manager at ENO and in the West End for a few years and during that time started to do freelance jobs as a production manager. I was then lucky enough to get the job of production assistant at the NT and progressed from there.
Question 5: How much do you think networking helps towards landing a job in the industry?
It helps a lot to start with but then while you are working the lines blur as each job is a chance to prove yourself to other people and to spread your name. You have to be careful as the industry is very small and prospective employers will talk to each other about potential employees.
Question 6: Do you think you will be working in the industry in the next five years, and if so in what capacity?
I think so in some some capacity although my job has changed a lot in the last 5 years so I wouldnt like to guess what the next five years hold!
Question 7: Please describe what a typical day working as a Production Manager might contain?
Generally, I work from 10-6 preparing for a show, meeting with designers, technicians and production workshops. The nearer to fit up you get, the days will get a bit busier with finalising all the details and liasing with stage management through rehearsals. Hopefully all the preparation work pays off with a smooth fit up in the theatre and no notes to deal with through previews but mostly during previews we will spend mornings altering bits of scenery or doing lighting, sound or video work with the afternoons being reserved for the company to work onstage. I enjoy the days when you end up doing bizarre things you never imagined you would ever have to do...
Question 8: Have you done any additional training courses to further your career?
The NT has run internal training for risk assessment, working at height and also theatreworks training for running workshops.
Question 9: How important is working for free at the beginning of your career?
Working for free is a good way to prove to potential employers that you are keen and are good enough to get proper work. It is also a chance for you to gain experience without having the pressure of being the one who is responsible. However, choosing when to work for free is crucial as it must be able to lead on to something or introduce you to someone who will be useful to you. Lots of places will tell you it will be good experience for you to do their show but you need to decide that yourself.