The Touring Company Manager

“Another travelling job I used to be given was that of touring company manager. This meant that when a production moved venue on a Saturday night for the next Monday opening, you had to be there to pay your cast on the Friday and oversee the ‘get-out/get-in’ as it was known over the weekend. Sometimes, to cut costs, a member of the cast was designated to do this job but if I was available, I was often landed with it. It entailed a lot of travelling and time consuming hard work especially if it was a heavy show – one with a lot of scenery. I think the Unions must have been slightly star-struck because we got away with murder when dealing with lorry men, railway men and back-stage staff. We used to offer the drivers, porters etc., a few pounds to help on and off-load as required and my trick, being young and fit, was to get stuck in with the labourers, never stopping for a smoke or drink until the job was finished and seeing my example none of them ever liked easing off if I didn’t! Usually when the job was finished and the cash and beer were handed out, someone would tell me what they all thought of me but as each job was paid by the hour, it was well worth it I can still recall the weight of some of these
batons.Once you got into a theatre there was a strict pecking order for the dressing rooms etc., most pronounced someway down the cast which was another headache as you always seemed to miff someone. The trick then was never to favour the same act twice if their billing was equal but after a week or two most companies would become like families and largely got on very well. Again, as I got to know the House Managers better, by the end of the week, I was often told I was favoured above my peers because I bore the Collins name.