Elizabeth Patrick: Life as an ASM

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We spoke to The Nativity’s ASM, Elizabeth Patrick to discuss what her job entails, the highs and lows and advice for aspiring creatives.
TTH: Describe an average day at work on the Nativity?
Elizabeth: On an average one show day, myself and the other ASM will get to the theatre roughly two hours before the show starts. This is so we can reset the props and do our foys flying checks to ensure that everything is where it needs to be. This will then allow us to see if there are any issues in which we then will have enough time to sort out before the show starts.
After this is done, the company then warm up on stage before getting into costume for the show. Our ASM plots are rather busy at this time but it’s great fun.

TTH: People say, don’t work with Children and Animals and on this show, you do both. Is it difficult?

Elizabeth: I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, it can be a challenge at times but the kids bring so much to this show that they still make me laugh on a daily basis.

As for Pepper (cracker in the show) the dog she doesn’t cause any problems and never barks, and who wouldn’t want a little dog to hug during a show?
TTH: Do you prefer tour life or just working in one theatre?
Elizabeth:  This year has been my first time touring. I recently just finished with Sister Act, had a week break and then started with the Nativity. I personally really like both. Touring is exciting as you get to experience new theatres weekly and you come across new challenges with each. I do miss the stability of being based at one theatre as my home life is based in London so being away from friends/family can be tough however, you become one big family whilst on tour as you spend so much time together.
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TTH: What is one thing you’ve learnt in your time as a ASM?
Elizabeth: One thing? Well…I’ve learnt a lot more than one thing working in this field. The main thing I keep reminding myself is that as an ASM you can’t take anything personally. If something goes wrong in a show and you end up on the tail end of some anger, it’s not a personal attack to you. It’s just the heat of the moment situation. Notes are there to help the show and therefore you must embrace them. Any problems? talk. It’s the only way to get the information across to ensure you are doing your job to the best of your ability.
TTH: What is the best/worse part of your job?
Elizabeth: The best part of working on the Nativity! is hearing the intro for ‘Sparkle and Shine’ near the end of Act 2. Every night the audience starts to clap and this is the moment where the real interaction is there. For this part, I’m stage left with the other ASM ready to fly the moon onto the stage. Hearing the audiences reactions still gives me tingles.
The worst part…ok I will keep this simple…glue gunning a toy baby back together daily for the Herod rock opera scene. It’s a fiddly thing but looks amazing onstage so I guess it’s a love hate relationship ha.
TTH: Any advice for creatives wanting to start a career within the industry?
Elizabeth:  If you’re training or got your first job the key is to ALWAYS ask questions. Try and soak everything in and learn from the other members of the team. Everyone in each department will be more than happy to help you if you show an interest into what they are doing. Remember, we all started off not knowing things so don’t feel like you’re the only one. We were once you so we know how it feels.
You can catch the Nativity on tour now.
Check out the dates here #SparkleAndShine

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