Backstage at The Lowry: Dave Wimpenny, Technical Manager

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Hello….. I’m one of four Technical Managers at The Lowry, I’ve worked in technical for a number of theatres and company’s including Contact, The RNCM, The Royal Exchange, Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Lowry.

Along with many other technicians I’m dyslexic which is a massive help when you’re thinking about logical things not so great when writing The Lowry Blog!

The Lowry theatre has three main performance spaces, The Lyric (the big one) the Quays (the flexible one) and the Studio (the experimental one). My department has to facilitate the stage and technical aspects of every show that comes into each venue (and sometimes more).

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The Lyric houses mainly big shows that need the least help technically. The majority of the companies that come in there can have the best equipment and most of the time they have their own technical team which we work closely with to integrate their show into our venue.

The Quays is a multipurpose venue and a mid scale theatre venue which also caters for smaller productions, stand ups, bands and community and amateur groups.  This is my favourite venue (don’t tell the others they’ll get jealous) due to its flexibility and varied program.

Finally the Studio, which again is a step smaller than the Quays and again quite flexible we have smaller fledgling companies and also The Lowry’s ‘developed with’ program.

We have sixteen full time members of staff; Head of Technical Services, Technical Services Manager, four Technical Managers and ten technicians, and we also need to add casual staff because of the demand of the work load. The difficulty is getting the right skills in the right place and although the technicians have to be multi skilled we all have our strengths and weakness. Each show breaks down into more little departments including, stage, flys, lighting, sound, and sometime AV.

My own speciality is lighting and I’m quite good at sound, I also enjoying designing for both of these aspects.
I personally like projects I can get my brain into, for instance I recently designed the lights for the Lowry CAT dance company for their show Axon which started as part of the UDance 2016 festival. This was quite a challenge as I had to work the design around another dance company and the UDance festival too.

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The week 53 festival which took place throughout the Lowry building was also a project I was heavily involved in. We had to arrange a lot of extra equipment, staff and time (around 7 days) we also turned some non theatre areas into theatre spaces, and a truck bay into a bar. It was a very enjoyable thing to work on because it challenged me to think a little differently.

Although I’ve only mentioned a couple of Lowry projects I believe that we should make each show as good as we can, with the big Lyric shows needing little help and smaller shows in the Quays and The Studio sometimes needing full technical support. All of the shows are important to the people who make them and go to see them so it is also important that we get things right.

Written by Dave Wimpenny, Technical Manager at The Lowry.

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