Union House Theatre

An Interview with UHT’s Production and Venue Manager, Khat Kerr

9 April 2018

Khat Kerr is Union House Theatre’s new production and venue manager! We had a chat to her about her new role and what goes on behind the scenes.

What does the role of production and venue manager entail?
The production and venue manager consists of many behind the scenes activities at Union House Theatre (UHT). I am responsible for supervising and overseeing the Union Theatre and the Guild Theatre spaces and for many other tasks and activities including the scheduling of all student theatre group productions, UHT presented productions and liaising with all external hirers. I oversee and manage all technical requirements for these productions, as well as provide technical and scheduling advice and support to the artistic director of UHT.

I also manage all equipment procurement, maintenance, and all venue facilities in both theatres to ensure that they are working at optimum levels for our hirers.

I also oversee all occupational health and safety within the two theatre spaces and manage up to 20 staff; who assist; at all levels, with expertise, technical knowledge and venue orientation and inductions.

I am the scheduling queen!

What have your prior experiences with this role been like?
I have worked for many professional companies and organisations in Australia and internationally as a production manager, across many different genres of performing arts such as theatre, dance, opera, musical theatre, physical theatre/circus, musical festivals, classical music and international arts festivals. They have all been very different roles with different challenges, however it has always been a stimulating, enlightening and a fabulous ride.

What made you want to work at the University of Melbourne?
I love working with students and imparting my 20 years of theatre knowledge and experience to assist and guide them with their own productions and events. Prior to working with Union House Theatre, I worked at the Victorian College of the Arts, so I like to think that I am known to build great rapports and friendships with students, and understand the creativity and passion that is applied for all areas of the performing arts, as well as understanding the stressors of student life; such as balancing work, study, social life and having fun!

Union House Theatre is a very special place that champions inclusion, diversity and accessibility for all students from every walk of life; the opportunity to engage and create with the performing arts.

What projects are you most excited to get involved in at Union House Theatre?
I’m really looking forward to seeing all the student theatre groups’ works, as I know what passion, creativity, blood, sweat and tears goes into them! I hope that my experience and guidance can provide all involved with a most fun, enjoyable and successful outcome for all the groups.

I’m very excited about working on our semester one UHT production Things We Should Talk About as it will be a devised work and very different to other UHT presented works in the past. It will be a fantastic opportunity for all to be collaborative and create a new work from scratch with industry professionals and will be such a journey for all involved! Can’t wait to see what the performances look like!

I am also looking forward to being a part of the UHT mentorship program in 2018.

What makes a theatre run smoothly/successfully?
In the ever-evolving information world of theatre there are five key areas to making a theatre or production run smoothly: creativity, planning, problem solving and communication, communication and more communication, and having a great team!

I couldn’t do it all by myself.

How can students get involved with backstage aspects of theatre production this year?
As well as Union House Theatre running numerous artistic workshops throughout the year, UHT also runs several FREE backstage workshops throughout semester one and two. We offer workshops in several backstage disciplines such as set building (and power tools!), stage management, production management, light, sound and AV (projection), marketing and publicity. Please check out our website for more info and to sign up to one of these workshops.

You can also sign up for our Followspot e-newsletter to stay up to date with what’s going on at UHT, as well as auditions and backstage crew callouts. Please go to our website or Facebook group to sign up.

Union House Theatre also hosts a mentorship program in many backstage disciplines such as arts administration, production management, technical production and set building.

Keep an eye out for applications to open on Followspot.

Lastly, if you want to be involved in backstage aspects of theatre, join a theatre group! You’ll learn so much by just trying out new things and putting your hand up to do it. Get involved!

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