Spotlight On... John Maddox (Technical Manager)

Spotlight On... John Maddox (Technical Manager)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The technical manager for Regeneration talks to young reporter Grace Wakes about his career so far, MiniDisc mishaps and his love of circus based productions.

Describe your current role and explain how you got involved in this career?
My current role is Technical Manager for Regeneration, there is a lot of variety in my job, I mainly work as a light re-fitter but I also have to ensure that every element of the show is set up in each venue on tour. I have to look at the show in a logistical manner, such as ensuring that all the kit can fit in the wagon to transport the set to the different theatres. Health and Safety also plays a huge part in my role and I have to ensure that we adhere to all aspects of this whilst touring. I first got into my role from school, I helped in school productions, then moved to working in a theatre when I was 16. I started going on tour when I was 19 with my first show, Horrid Henry.

What is the worst technical calamity which you have experienced during a performance?
There was an incident when I just started out in the theatre, involving a major mishap with some mini discs. All sound effects and music for the production used to be on mini discs and you could edit them by cutting them at certain points. Being 16 at the time, I thought I could get around this and ended up losing all of the sound effects and to make matters worse it was only 30 minutes before the curtain went up. I was aware there was no copy of these on mini disc, but luckily I managed to copy them over in the nick of time from a CD. It taught me early on that you should always carry a back-up copy!

I've noticed you've previously worked on a lot of children's shows such as Aladdin and Jack and the Beanstalk, do you approach these differently compared to more reflective pieces such as Regeneration?
In terms of the technical aspect, no, as I tend to approach each piece in the same standard way and ensure that everything is set up as safely as possible. Usually, it's the theatre that affects the technical aspect not the genre of the piece, I tend to prep most things as a tour so it is easier to set up once you reach each venue. 

Did the landscape of the First World War pose any particular challenges for you when designing the technical aspect of Regeneration?
For me, I came into Regeneration when it was already a completed show, it had previously been created in Nottingham  so I didn't have the opportunity to input any creatively when it came to designing the lighting, for example. My job is to follow the designer's image for the performance and to ensure I recreate this the best I can in each theatre.

Who has the most creative input when it comes to the theme of the lighting and sound?
There are four key people who mainly have the creative input into designing this, they are the director, the producer, the set designer and the lighting designer, my job is to recreate what they want. Although, this can be restrictive at times due to the size of each venue for example, if the stage area is smaller, we have to move the set to suit this and therefore have to move the lighting around as well, no theatre is the same, I don't redesign as such but relight.

Are any productions which you would love to work on but haven't had the opportunity? - And why?
I would love to work on a piece called Barnum, which is a circus production show, simply because I love the circus! I just missed out working on it last time as I wasn't in the country the last when they did a tour. Although I'm always working on theatre, I never actually get the opportunity to go and see a lot of it as an audience member either, but I admit I can never fully relax when I'm watching a show, I'm always too busy watching the lighting rigs!

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.