Backstage and Beyond: Doug Mackie, Managing Director of Finborough Theatre
Welcome to Backstage and Beyond, a series of interviews in which we talk to theatre industry professionals to find out more about their jobs. Everyone knows what an actor does, but it takes a lot more than just the people on stage to make a show. Please join us as we quiz people in all sorts of cool theatre jobs on their work, what it involves, and how you could do the same. In this instalment, we talk to Doug Mackie, the managing director of Finborough Theatre.
Can you explain to us exactly what your job involves?
As Managing Director I oversee the day to day administrative operations at the Finborough Theatre and provide training and support to the participants of the internship programme. I am also the main point of contact for all incoming production teams.
As Technical Manager, I maintain our lighting and sound equipment and oversee the installation of sets and lighting rigs for incoming productions.
How did you come to work as the Managing Director of the Finborough Theatre?
I had just moved to London and decided to participate in the Finborough Theatre's internship programme as a way to get acclimated to the London Theatre network. I came into the internship with almost a decade of prior experience which piqued the Artistic Director's interest. After my first month as an intern, I had taken on the role of General Manager and the Artistic Director, Neil, asked if I would be interested in a paid position.
What does your daily schedule look like?
It varies quite a lot from day to day. I always check emails several times a day on the three inboxes I keep track of, otherwise they can get overrun quite easily. I receive customer service requests, internal and external administrative communication, and reminder emails for important weekly and monthly tasks. I am also available for queries from the General Managers should something unexpected come up during a show (something almost always does).
I make regular site visits and run the box office as General Manager at least once every week to get a first-hand look at how everything is working. During a tech week, I'm usually at the theatre every day keeping tabs on the technical installation of the upcoming production.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Best: Having the chance to meet and work with so many bright, enthusiastic professionals at the beginning of their careers.
Worst: This job can be extremely stressful at times.
What advice do you have for young people interested in becoming a Managing Director or a Technical Manager?
I would advise working towards having a very diverse background if you are interested in either role. My prior experiences working as an actor, director, set designer, electrician, and sound engineer have greatly contributed to my ability to analyse problems from many different points of view.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of theatre in London and in the UK?
I hope that we are able to maintain or even increase, public funding for theatre.