Up Close with the executive director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Catherine Mallyon on a landmark year, playing the piano for breakfast and running a half-marathon – knees willing!
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
My first jobs in the arts were as a house manager and cinema manager. I was then general manager at Oxford Playhouse and Reading Arts and Theatres where I looked after the Hexagon (everything from snooker to Snow White!), the Concert Hall, South Street Arts Centre and the WOMAD festival. From there I became director of operations at the Southbank Centre, London, enjoying the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Hayward Gallery and 21 acres of outside activity. In 2012, I left there as deputy chief executive to become executive director of the RSC.
IT’S WHAT I DO
I work alongside RSC artistic director Gregory Doran as joint chief executive of the company. Key functions of my role are helping to create the best conditions for artists to flourish, ensuring that our audiences and everyone visiting us have the best experiences possible and doing all I can to help the organisation run effectively and happily. As we mark 400 years since the death of Shakespeare, it is great to see the enthusiastic response to our productions across the world. In April we celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday with a range of activities for the whole family and Shakespeare Live! From The RSC, a live broadcast on BBC2 and screened into cinemas. We are also currently on tour throughout the UK, having just returned from performing in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York. We produce Matilda The Musical which is entertaining audiences in London’s West End, on Broadway in New York, in Chicago and Melbourne, Australia. I am also on the board of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, working with Birmingham to raise even further the profile of culture and tourism within the region.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
I am keen to continue extending the reach of the RSC so that as many people as possible can enjoy what we do. In addition to our stage performances we have free exhibitions and many excellent education opportunities. We also run a good restaurant, cafes and a shop! There really is something for everyone.
Professionally, I’ve been lucky to have rewarding roles with really good arts organisations. Working with colleagues, experiencing the performances and seeing audiences engaged and happy is a great joy. Personally, completing a very hilly 10k run in Chamonix in the French Alps last year was a significant achievement.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
That people can always surprise, in every way – it is important to really listen to what they are saying.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
The great culture. In the 1990s I remember reading a review describing the Rep ‘firing on all cylinders’ and since then have always wanted that to be the description of everywhere I work.
I often play a few minutes on the piano in the mornings and evenings. Whenever I can I play the violin in an orchestra. And I’m always planning and thinking about my next holiday. Extending my running distance to complete a half-marathon this year is an ‘ambitious ambition’ for me – I hope my knees will take it.
Since being in Stratford-upon-Avon I’ve enjoyed developing my personal and professional relationship with Birmingham and look forward to that continuing. Do come and see us in Stratford – for our programme, facilities and free activities visit www.rsc.org.uk.