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Lyric life

#12JobsOfTheatre – Helen Matravers, Producer.

Welcome to #12JobsofTheatre.

Over 12 days in December we’ll be telling you about 12 different jobs at the Lyric to give you an insight into the varied and vital jobs that contribute to the work we make.

Each of the wonderful people that are currently in those positions have shared how they got there and we hope it will be helpful to those thinking about pursuing a career in the arts.

Last (but by no means least …) is our producer, Helen Matravers.

In one sentence, can you explain what your job is?

Hmmm tricky. I help co-ordinate, negotiate, contract and facilitate the (hopefully!) smooth running of main house productions, studio shows and sometimes special Lyric projects and events – usually from commission or inception right through to the show’s final performance.

What made you want to work in theatre and where did you start? 

I had some pretty brilliant Drama and English teachers at school (Mrs Bowring, Mrs Price and Mrs Wyrwoll) who ignited my passion for theatre – despite growing up in an area where very little professional theatre happened, they instilled in me the positive impact that theatre can have. I went to University to study Drama and Theatre Arts and did an internship at Birmingham REP, and then did an MA in acting. After training I took a job in a pub with a theatre above it to pay rent (I didn’t get much acting work!) and whilst there the Manager very kindly and trustingly handed over the running of the theatre to me…I’d never done anything like it before, but soon learned that the organisational skills of a producer played well into my strengths, it was an incredible learning curve. I went on to do a Resident Assistant Producer placement at Theatre503, work as an Usher then Duty House Manager and box office assistant at the Royal Court, and from there joined New Diorama Theatre where I started as their Projects Manager and left as their Senior Producer.

What is your top recommendation for someone who wants to be a Producer?

Ask for help/advice/support whenever you need it, because the best Producers are those who learn on the job and can adapt working practices quickly depending on the task in hand. I don’t know of any Producers who know exactly what their job is, or exactly the right way to do it, so take any opportunities you can to shadow, get work experience, network and learn on the job – and take in learning from all theatre departments – you will work closely with marketing teams, actors, directors, production teams, box office…take the time to find out how everyone works so you can understand best how to work alongside them.

What is your favourite production at the Lyric that you have worked on and why?

Tricky question! I am currently producing Heart of Hammersmith which I am falling quickly in love with and know will be amazing – but of all the shows I’ve worked on so far, Antigone, which was sadly cancelled due to COVID was joyful to produce for, despite not getting to the stage. Bringing together a chorus of young people at the heart of it was particularly special.