Nick, our Audience Engagement Coordinator, speaks to Francoise Herard, Deputy of Wigs and Make Up about being backstage at Sleeping Beauty.
Francoise and the backstage team work hard to help make the show run smoothly. They arrive at each venue the day before opening night to ‘get-in’ to the theatre and then pack it all up again at the end of the run ready for the next tour date!
Please explain a bit about your role and what you do backstage:
As Deputy of Wigs and Make Up I have to help get the wigs cleaned, set and ready for every show. Backstage, during the show, there are a lot of very quick changes from one character to another, where everything needs to be changed in a very short period of time - wigs, make up AND costume. There's no room for errors and we need to work super fast! But, there are some changes that are a little bit more relaxed, which gives us time to tidy up for the next change and be there in case someone needs some help, like more glue for the front lace of a wig, extra pins, or a quick brush. We are always prepared.
When did you first join the Company and how did you discover New Adventures?
I joined the Company 3 years ago as a local person working for the wig department at Sadler’s Wells for the 2012-13 run of Sleeping Beauty. I had just got back from 11 months of touring in the US with the show Fela. When they asked if I was interested in working for 2 months on Sleeping Beauty I said yes straight away.
Sadler’s Wells is one of my favourite venues. I just love the people there, they pretty much function like New Adventures does and are extremely friendly and professional. The Head of Department was and still is Moira O'Connell, which was a pleasant surprise as I knew her but had never worked with her before. The rest is history as we became good friends.
I fell in love with the magical beauty of Matthew Bourne's world and the incredible design of Lez Brotherston. When I had the opportunity to tour with Swan Lake later on in 2013 there was no doubt that I was hooked. I knew of the company through some dancers and crew members I'd met previously and worked with. I always thought "one day..."
What is the favourite show that you have worked on so far?
My favourite show if there has to be one would be Swan Lake. Let me clarify. At the moment I am working on Sleeping Beauty and it is just as enchanting and passionate. But on Swan Lake I was able to work closely with the late Jonny Ollivier and Marcelo Gomes. There is nothing to describe the talent of both Jonny and Marcelo. I have memories that are engraved in my heart forever. When you meet a true genius like Jonny with such talent, incomparable skills and beauty how can you possibly describe it? The drama of the extraordinary music and personal grief makes it impossible to forget.
Do you have a highlight from the Sleeping Beauty tour so far and is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to?
Working with people I've worked with before and I admire and respect makes it all worthwhile. I am looking forward to going back to Asia with the tour. We always have a warm welcome travelling abroad. It makes you realise how much the shows have an impact on people's lives worldwide!
What’s it like constantly being on tour and do you enjoy it?
I do like touring even if sometimes you miss home or just simply sleeping in your own bed. Going on tour is like going on an adventure with its ups and downs.