… all we know is, he will be missed!
At my desk with Alan Carr’s book, who many people say I resemble!
After nearly 12 years of working at The Lowry, on his last day, we asked Ben Doyle to sum it all up and give us his Top 5 Lowry moments! All you have to do is sit back, read on and imagine Led Zepplin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ playing in the background. Take it away Ben:
“In my time here at The Lowry, I’ve seen all facets of life both front and back of house and I’ve had quite a few positions, from Box Office Assistant to Event Duty Manager and finally the role I’m in now, as Ticketing Services System Manager. I met my partner of 10 years here at The Lowry when we both worked on Front of House, and 3 weeks ago we celebrated our Civil Partnership ceremony.The changes have been so apparent in my time here. When old people say “I remember when all this was fields”, I have a certain affinity with them. When I first started working here, we were the only thing on The Quays. It was a very quiet place, with nothing going on. To see the changes over the years has been amazing, and I can’t help but feel that The Lowry was a catalyst for them. Here are my top 5 things that have happened while I have been here:
#5 The Ring Cycle by Scottish Opera
The interest in this event was spectacular. We had to take hundreds and hundreds of calls in a short period of time, and people were spending a phenomenal amount of money on the event. When it came to the Saturday show, they were running the whole cycle over one day, the foyer was filled with 1700+ customers, the majority of who wanted to buy a programme and an all day parking ticket. The scene was bedlam, with long queues and the heat was amazing, simply with all the people in the foyer. A couple of people paid for things with Scottish £100-notes (we had to check with the bank if they were legal for use in England!) and the floor was littered with the detritus of box office operation. Once the final call for the visitors to be seated had gone out and everyone was in the theatre, there was an odd serenity over the whole foyer, and the feeling of a job well done. And then we began tidying up!
#4 Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling
I don’t attend the theatre that often, even though we get some great staff offers! It’s hard to shake off that work feeling, even when it’s my free time. That might sound odd for some of you, but for me it’s true! Anyway, one of the exceptions to this is Matthew Bourne. I always enjoy his shows ans my favourite show is Highland Fling. I’ve only seen it the once but I had such a good time watching it that I almost forgot I was watching dance! I don’t believe it’s performed that often, which I feel is a shame!
#3 Scathing Witticisms
There was one visitor in the early days who used to come on a very regular basis. She was elderly but quite the theatrical diva and would spend a lot of time talking to you about the theatre and her previous life in South Africa. At the time I worked as a Front of House Assistant, but she took up so much time that we sometimes had to get an extra member of staff in just to help her out. I always volunteered to look after her as you were guaranteed a night of witticisms (sometimes scathing!) and entertaining stories! We once queued so that an opera lead-performer could sign people’s programmes; as she was waiting for her taxi, she thought she would get her programme signed. As we queued up, the lady used her walking stick to waft people out of the way. Once at the front of the queue, the star in question tried to talk to her in that way some people do with the elderly, to which she retorted (in her fantastic upper-class accent) “I’m not simple, dear!” and huffed off, while I was in stitches. Sadly the visitor is no longer with us, but she is sorely missed.
I once answered a call into the Box Office as “Hello The Lowry, Bacon speaking” rather than the usual greeting of “Hello The Lowry, Ben speaking”. A colleague and I had been talking about having a lovely bacon butty for breakfast from the staff canteen as a treat. I must have been half asleep when I did it, but the customer on the other end must not have noticed.
#1 The Opening of The Lowry and The Early Days
I have been here since the main building opened. I used to work Saturdays and I started here when I was 16. It was great that the box office manager gave me that opportunity and I really enjoyed working those shifts. We were originally based over at West Pavilion at Harbour City, which is now the Laser Eye Clinic. We were selling tickets for theatres which hadn’t been completed yet, so we were trying our best to work out what the views would be like from the seats. However, we plodded along quite happily over at West Pavilion, with our “Disco Cupboard” full of tickets. By the end of April 2000, we had moved to the main box office in the building. We were surrounded by dust and drilling: The Lowry was being finished around us! Painting and polishing was happening right up until we opened the doors for our first performance. Even though I played such a small part in the opening of the building, I felt like I was part of a team and we’d all achieved something brilliant.
I’m off now for the lights of London to work for a booking system provider as a Project Manager. It’ll be difficult to leave as I’ve made some amazing friends, but I’m looking forward to the future challenges of my new job.”
Ben, it has been our pleasure. From everyone at The Lowry we wish you a fond farewell. Bon voyage!