Vicky Meets'¦ Ben Geering
House Manager at Chichester Festival Theatre
With leading roles on one of the world’s most famous stages to his credit, as well as being part of the team that coordinated the high profile visits of Major Tim Peake and the Queen, at just twenty-five Ben’s CV is already pretty impressive.
“When you put it like that…,” he joked, leaving the sentence dangling but clearly very happy with his career highlights to date.
Joining the Youth Theatre as a child, Ben worked as an usher at the Theatre before studying Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management at university.
“I have always loved theatre and Dale taught me a lot,” he told me, referring to Dale Rooks, now the Festival Theatre’s Director of Learning, Education & Participation, who was running the Youth Theatre when eleven-year-old Ben was cast in parts including the title role in Oliver!
“I re-joined the Festival Theatre as House Manager in July 2016 and now my role is about looking after everything that is public facing; everything from making sure that the sight is spotless to seeing that the ushers all have smiles on their faces even if they have seen the show twenty five times. The variety is great, but you do need to be able to switch your brain quickly.
“We want to make sure that everyone goes away feeing 100% happy. To do that you have to pay attention to that additional level of detail and the standard has to be maintained. We want to make it the best experience possible for everyone who interacts with us and to create the best theatre possible. We are hugely receptive to feedback – if we don’t listen to our customers then what’s the point?” said Ben, adding that the drive for excellence is an attitude that filters down from the top of the organisation and is an ethos that is invested in by everyone.
With 1,300 people coming through the doors every night incidents and accidents are inevitable. Odd requests are par for the course [he’s too discreet to reveal what] and First Aid training is always up-to-date.
Any babies ever been delivered mid show? “That’s one we haven’t had yet – disappointing!” he laughed.
Agreeing that he is lucky to see a huge range of productions, Ben urges t 16 – 25 year-olds to take advantage of the Theatre’s Â£5.00 ‘Prologue Scheme’ tickets.
“Live theatre is such a different experience and that you can enjoy it for less than the price of a cinema ticket is fantastic. And it’s such a stunning place, particularly in the summer.”
As for the recent visits of both the Monarch and the spaceman, he admitted that being involved was a privilege.
“Combining their world with ours was fascinating; an amazing experience.”
Saving the most important question until last, I asked the humdinger: which ice cream flavour should I choose at the interval?
“My personal favourite is Criterion’s salted caramel, but ginger is the number one seller. If we run out of ginger it’s Armageddon!”
More information: ww.cft.org.uk