From ballet in Japan to indoor skydiving with Peter Pan, how Birmingham Rep’s head of communications, Ben Wooldridge, first fell in love with theatre as a wide-eyed kid with his parents
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I’ve worked at some of Birmingham’s biggest and best cultural institutions, including Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Royal Ballet and now Birmingham Rep. I also worked on the launch of the Birmingham 2022 Festival – the huge cultural festival that will surround the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The wealth of world-class culture in the city has enabled me to forge a career working on exciting projects and productions – one highlight has to be touring to Japan with Birmingham Royal Ballet and taking the name of the company and Birmingham to the other side of the world! During my time at Birmingham Hippodrome I was involved in some brilliantly crazy PR stunts such as creating living windows in the Bullring with the cast of Kinky Boots, feeding camels at West Midland Safari Park with the cast of Joseph and doing some indoor skydiving with the cast of Peter Pan!
IT’S WHAT I DO
I am head of communications at Birmingham Rep, the city’s only producing theatre and the longest-established of Britain’s building-based theatre companies. In the same theatre building as my office, the huge stage sets are built, costumes are made and new productions rehearsed. It is my responsibility to oversee the PR and communications to spread the word about the wonderful work here both on and off stage.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
Birmingham to grow more and more as a national and international powerhouse for culture, with the Rep being at the forefront. I would love to see more of the brilliant work devised here transfer into London’s West End, on to Broadway and beyond.
It may sound a cheesy, but it’s the fact that I get to spend my working day in a theatre with a diverse range of colleagues with a huge variety of skills. I grew up going to the Hippodrome and the Rep with my parents, excitement would keep me awake the night before! Now, I have the pleasure of working in those environments.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
Be confident in what you want to achieve and don’t be afraid to speak up. I believe in conversing with others to solve a problem. However, if something isn’t working for you – change it. We only live once and we have the right to enjoy every day.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
As mentioned, my first visits to Birmingham were to go to the theatre – I remember seeing The Wind in The Willows at the Rep and being totally mesmerised. It’s something I haven’t been able to get out my head ever since. We have amazing cultural institutions in our city, not just theatres but the likes of IKON and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and even the RSC just down the road.
I spend most of my free time at the theatre, locally and travelling into the West End. I also love treating myself to a meal at Harborne Kitchen or Simpsons. I also recently had an incredible meal at Chakana in Moseley.