Spotlight on… is a new series focusing on our brilliant Volunteer Ushers at Swindon Theatres. We are lucky to have around 150 Ushers who work for the Wyvern Theatre and Swindon Arts Centre and who help the Duty Manager with the smooth running of our shows. Their duties can include helping direct patrons to seats and venue facilities, selling programmes and merchandise, checking tickets and more. Our Ushers can often be the first point of contact for visiting patrons and their contribution to theatre life is really invaluable to us as a team. This is their chance to take centre stage and tell us about their experiences!
Today’s Spotlight On is Steve Milsom.
What’s your favourite thing about ushering at Swindon Theatres?
Working as an integral part of a team of volunteer ushers and duty managers, providing the very best service to the patrons who are paying good money to see our shows! I especially enjoy working at fully-sold shows in busy roles where I aim to provide reliable extra support to the presiding duty manager. It’s also great to occasionally participate directly in the running of a performance, such as flinging ‘foam rocks’, or memorably, giant inflatable objects such as a ‘peach’ into a family audience!
What has been your personal highlight of ushering a show at Swindon Theatres?
I cannot pick one, there are several. One has been to usher so many multiple performances at the last six Christmas pantomimes since 2012, including a good mix of schools and family shows, because each one is very different and some can be challenging! I also feel privileged and excited to be one of three volunteers conducting the monthly “tea and tours”, taking patrons backstage and hopefully entertaining and amusing them with tales of old theatre operations and superstitions, and encouraging some positive Trip Advisor posts. These tours can be complicated on “show days” since we may be restricted where we can go backstage, but that is part of the fun!
Why do you enjoy ushering?
Ushering keeps me busy and active in retirement, and I get to see a much broader range of arts and theatre than I might normally chose to see. I resolved that when I retired from my research manager career in higher education (after 32 years) that I would find a new customer-facing role working with a new set of people, since I concluded that my former clients – senior researchers in universities – were a particularly tough bunch of people to satisfy!
Are you a Swindon Theatres Usher and want to contribute to the Spotlight On Series? Contact Marcus Lilley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Ushering at Swindon Theatres here.