Spotlight On... Joe Gale

Spotlight On... Joe Gale

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Joe Gale is a technical stage manager and has worked on shows in the West End and site-specific shows such as The Railway Children and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He recently toured with Regeneration. Laura Lennon finds out what's involved in his work and how he got into the industry.

You’ve worked on large-scale productions such as The Railway Children and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - how does a touring production like Regeneration compare?

Regeneration is a lot smaller. I mean it looks quite big from back here (backstage!) but it is a lot smaller in terms of the amount of props that we have, and the size of the cast- especially when it came to the element of danger backstage. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had fire effects, a giant moving stage, lots of big puppets, stilt walkers and everything like that. The same with The Railway Children, it had a real steam engine that would come down the tracks into the auditorium and there would be people on the tracks when that happened. So this is a lot smaller than I’m used to, but it has been quite nice to have a smaller cast and get a bit more intimate with everything and more involved.

The stage here is pretty dynamic and simple, but I imagine every theatre is different. Have there been any disasters?

Well there haven’t been any disasters as such. It’s an odd set, it has lots of odd pieces. So sometimes in different venues where it’s a hemp house (with ropes for flying in props and scenery etc.) for example, we’ve got the giant flown wall on motors- so it’s slightly different to having it flown in by a person. But as far as things go it doesn’t change too much.

What lead you to this industry?

Completely by accident. I used to work in the film industry. I was a locations manager and couldn’t get any work for a while, so I ended up doing some front of house work on The Railways Children and then I was asked if I wanted to do some crewing on that. So that’s kind of what got me into it.  I really enjoy film, it’s what I did at university, it’s what I got my degree in- I still love film but as far as career-wise, I think it’s been a much better fit for me. I’ve learned a lot more and seen a lot more and I’ve met a lot of people that I consider to be friends for life through this. Whereas in film,  it was very much ‘do your work and go home.’

You must work closely with directors and the actors. Can you see yourself in their shoes one day?

I did originally want to direct, that was always my dream, especially when I started off in the film industry. I’ve made short films and done all that before but I decided after a while, that what I really wanted to do was writing – and this works really well for me because I can write on the side as well as doing the job through the day. So as far as directing is concerned, I don’t think I’d ever want to be in that position just because it’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of hard work and you have to be really focussed, do your research and be ready for anything that comes along.

How would you inspire a young person to choose a career in theatre?

I would just say that it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. It’s rare that you can find yourself in a job where you do something and you can see the immediate effects of that, and see it happen in front of you. Like from the rehearsal period, where you have your own purpose and your involved in discussions, and people go: ‘ oh ok that is actually quite a good idea’-to actually seeing it happen. It is one of the most satisfying career choices you can make. But very difficult!