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Jobs 101: Production manager

Audrey Leong


Published: 14 February 2017, 3:56 PM

We see what's necessary for being behind the stage.

For production manager Azy, her world really is a stage.

Youth.SG sat down with Azy, who was busy preparing for the upcoming staging of Those Who Can’t, Teach, to find out more about her job.

Name: Azyyati Binte Alias, 27
What: Production manager at The Necessary Stage
Studied: Degree in English literature and a minor in drama and performance at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Tell us more about yourself! 

I actually started at The Necessary Stage as a production intern after completing junior college at 18. I fell in love with stage production, which led me to continue pursuing it even after I graduated from NTU.

Originally, I thought I wanted to write for a living, which is why I took a degree in English literature. But my minor in drama and performance got me even more interested in the theatre making process.

When I’m not running around on stage, I love reading and catching up with my favourite television shows, or starting new ones, like the new Netflix series A Series Of Unfortunate Events. Currently, I’m reading Chantek by Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit.

AZY HAS SPENT ABOUT A DECADE IN THE THEATRE INDUSTRY.
AS A PRODUCTION MANAGER, SHE ALSO WORKS CLOSELY WITH THE DIRECTOR AND SCRIPTWRITER.

What’s a day in a life of a production manager like?

My days usually consist of catching up with everyone: various suppliers [of items for the set], the scriptwriter, and the technicians and the props [team] to find out if everything is going smoothly.

AZY CHECKING IN WITH THE PROPS TEAM, WHO BUILT A TEACHER’S TABLE WITH PARTS FROM A CABINET AND A TABLE.

There are times when everyone can get very stressed, especially if we’re just a few weeks away from production. It’s also my job to be the mediator and calm everyone down.

ONE OF HER RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDES LOOKING AFTER THE WELFARE OF THE CAST AND CREW.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on the job?

I can’t pinpoint the weirdest thing I’ve seen on stage, but there was once where an actor was supposed to do a quick change in under half a minute, and the dresser forgot his pants!

There have been other times where people go on stage with the wrong shoes, or wear someone else’s shoes.

SHE COUNTS HER PHONE AND LAPTOP AS HER “BEST FRIENDS” AT WORK.

What keeps you motivated? 

I think it’s seeing everything go from the small details to such a big production, seeing the fruits of your labour on opening night.

It’s very different from being on stage, because we know we’ve done our job well when no one says anything has gone wrong. This keeps me going.

AZY ALSO WORKS CLOSELY WITH HER PRODUCTION TEAM TO MAKE SURE EVERY SHOW GOES ON SMOOTHLY.

What has your job taught you?

For one, it has taught me to be very meticulous. Everything has to be organised for [the productions] to go smoothly.

HER MENTOR TAUGHT HER NOT TO CUT CORNERS IN THEATRE.

During my first month of my internship, I remember my mentor scolding me so badly that I felt like I was crying every night after I got back from work.

Would you ever go on stage if you had the chance?

No way! I’d rather be backstage.

I’ve been on stage before, I did a 30-second stint on the production of Gitanjali [I feel the earth move] where I said one line and that’s it.

EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS WORKED ON 50 SHOWS, SHE’S ONLY APPEARED ON STAGE AS AN ACTRESS A COUPLE OF TIMES.

I also did a few scenes during my drama and performance modules, but I think I’m more comfortable backstage.

How has the industry changed over the years, and what advice would you give to youths who are interested to work in this line?

I think youths these days come in with more experience, so they come in already knowing what they’re getting into. A lot of schools offer courses, such as arts business management, that weren’t available during my time.

If you want to be in this line, you shouldn’t be overly ambitious. Start from the basics, and work your way up.

You should try to spend as much time as you can to learn the ropes by working backstage. There are a lot of opportunities in the growing theatre scene in Singapore where youths can learn about backstage work.

Educational requirements: No formal theatre training needed, but you need to be willing to learn on the job.

Qualities needed: You need to be forward planning, meticulous, organised and be a people person.

Salary range: Starting from $2,500, depending on the size of the production.

Working hours: Usually office hours, from 9AM to 6PM. However, you can expect to work on weekends and public holidays when there are rehearsals held closer to the actual production dates.

Career prospects: You could venture into production coordination, or become an events or project manager.


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