The theatre director of the newly refurbished and renamed Alexandra, Lisa Mart reveals how it aims to play an even bigger role as the city’s ‘venue for the people’
BEEN THERE DONE THAT
I studied at the University of Edinburgh and did a wide variety of jobs to help finance my way through, including some casual jobs at the Edinburgh Festival and as a visitor services assistant for a history and ghost tour company. It helped me realise what a difference it makes to work in a place that your customers want to visit for enjoyment – the atmosphere is so positive. After graduation, I worked at the Royal Collection in Buckingham Palace, where I even got to meet the Queen before moving into theatre management with the Ambassador Theatre Group, initially at the New Wimbledon Theatre before moving to Birmingham and the Alex.
IT’S WHAT I DO
As theatre director everything within the venue falls under my responsibility. It’s an incredibly varied job as I get to work with all departments to ensure we have a quality schedule that fits with our audiences. Over the last year, I have been working most closely with the ATG property team on the massive amount of refurbishment that has taken place here.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE?
To continue to work on the Alex in order to restore the venue to its former glory. We have taken big steps forward this year by refurbishing our Grand Circle and massively improving the external facade of the building – but we still have more to do. We’ve been part of the Birmingham community since 1901 and so I want us to play a bigger part in the city today and really be a venue for the people.
Even more personal? I am currently in the process of buying my first house! I have everything crossed that I will be in a lovely new home by Christmas.
Definitely making the move to Birmingham from London. It was a massive ask at the time as I hadn’t spent any time in the city before and I didn’t know anyone. Luckily my boyfriend agreed to make the move with me and now we both love it!
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
I had a great time at university and met some fantastic friends for life – but I might think twice about attending if given the chance again. Gaining experience in the service industry and learning first-hand how to problem solve has had a much greater impact on my career.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
There is a real feeling of community here and everyone is willing to work together and create opportunities as opposed to a constant feeling of competition that exists elsewhere. We all have the same goal of getting the rest of the country to recognise what a great city Birmingham is!
To be honest, I spend most of my downtime under a blanket with a nice glass of wine watching Netflix! I try and get my exercise by cycling to and from work. It’s also incredibly relaxing spending time with my dachshund, Elsie. Her enthusiasm is infectious and it always cheers me up!