Ushering at Swindon Theatres with Ryan O’Neil

Becoming an Usher is a great opportunity to work in a theatre environment,  selling programmes, directing people and checking tickets. Ushers can be anyone aged 16 and above. Want to find out more? We sat down Ryan O’Neil who is one of our ushers at Swindon Theatres to find out more about ushering, what’s involved and more. Read the full chat below.

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How long have you been a usher and why did you did you first become an usher?

I first started ushering in January 2015 with the show Cirque Berserk. The main reason for becoming an usher was because after seeing many productions at the Wyvern and talking to the volunteers it made me want to do exactly the same! It is such a rewarding thing to do knowing that you can contribute to a patron’s experience at Swindon Theatres and can give something back to the community.

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What is the best thing about ushering at Swindon Theatres?

The best thing about being an usher at Swindon Theatres is that we get many opportunities to volunteer at a wide array of shows including pantomime, comedians, ballet, local productions, the Summer Youth Project and also the big West End and touring productions so there is always a variety and no two shifts are ever the same! The flexibility is also brilliant, you can work just the two shifts a month or if you want to you can usher even more. Whether you do 2 shifts or 20, you’re still part of an amazing team. You can usher at the Wyvern, Arts Centre or even both, you can do whatever works best for you.

What has been your personal highlight of ushering a show at Swindon Theatres?

I think a most recent personal highlight for me had to be our last panto of Peter Pan starring Adam Woodyatt. It was great to see people of all ages enjoying the show (plus we all enjoyed throwing rocks!). Pantomimes are always a highlight of mine, out of 50 performances I could easily usher at least half! It is great to see families coming together and choosing to spend part of their festive season with us plus with the fun of panto, the shifts just fly by!

What does a typical ushering shift look like?

A typical ushering shift involves arriving 70 minutes before a performance starting (or 60 minutes at the Arts Centre) where your shift begins with a pre-show briefing so that you’re aware of what to expect throughout the evening and will help you to answer any questions patrons may have. We then head to our stations and let the evening begin!

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What roles does an usher fulfil?

Ushers fulfil a number of roles. When you think of the word usher, one of the first things that could come to mind would be checking tickets on doors and yes that would be right! But ushers do so much more. We check the seats and auditorium to ensure that everything as it should be and that it is safe for patrons. We sell programmes, ice creams and show merchandise and we welcome patrons as they arrive and help them to find the right door and other facilities. We also have the job of cleaning up after everyone has left but it isn’t as bad as it sounds! You could be working with up to 15 other people on a Wyvern shift so when you all split the sections of the auditorium between you then we can usually complete it in minutes!

Describe ushering in three words.

Describe ushering in three words is the easiest question…. BEST THING EVER!

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If you would like to find more information about joining our team, find all the details on our website.

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