2019 is our 50th anniversary and we are championing some of the people who help make Scottish Ballet a great place to work. Each week we will introduce you to a different career at Scottish Ballet and the person behind it.
As Engagement Producer, Lorna Murray ensures the delivery of our inspirational engagement events that run alongside our productions, as well as our wider community engagement activities.
We caught up with Lorna to find out more about our engagement activities and why she loves working with Scottish Ballet.
Tell us about your journey with Scottish Ballet
In 2006 I was doing freelance arts management work in and around Glasgow. One of these jobs was one-day-a-week role in the education team at Scottish Ballet which, over the next year or so grew into a full-time post as Engagement Producer.
However, long before this freelance work, my first job out of university was as Scottish Opera's Assistant Company Manager. After a couple of years, and many tours, I became Company Manager. This involved scheduling rehearsals, coaching sessions, and wardrobe fittings, plus supporting production teams, freelance singers and the full-time chorus, and touring with them to main-scale venues across the UK. After four years of doing this, the manager's post at Scottish Opera Go Round came up – a job I'd secretly longed for.
For the next eleven years, I managed the small-scale touring opera company. I took full productions, with a team of seven singers, a pianist, and four technicians, across Scotland from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders. The job also involved the scheduling of rehearsals and performances, supporting the production team and artists, plus booking the venues from village halls to mid-scale venues and working with local promoters.
What does your job involve?
Funnily enough more scheduling, supporting artists, and liaising with venues – but now for Scottish Ballet's ever-creative engagement team. During a tour like The Snow Queen, we'll deliver a wide variety of activities supporting the company's work on stage.
Our Engagement Officer Miriam Douglas-Early will be bringing The Snow Queen characters to life in workshops with community groups, dance schools, primary and secondary schools. She will host Talk Ballet pre-show events, where she'll quiz members of the Artistic Team about the creative process and get some inside information on the production.
During our Stage Secrets events, we talk about the characters and themes of The Snow Queen and the audience see some of the costumes and props up close. They'll also watch company class on stage and have a Q&A with one of the dancers – all of which gives a great insight into the company's life on and off stage.
Miriam will also be audio describing The Snow Queen along with Paulene Laverty, who danced with the company for years and has audio described our ballets from the outset. They each spent hours in the rehearsal studio writing their halves of the script which they'll read out live for visually impaired patrons, who listen with special headsets, during the audio description performance.
What is the best part of your job?
Well, watching the company rehearse in the studio is pretty amazing. Then watching them perform on stage, with the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, is always inspiring. The talent, focus, and hard work required to get to that level of the profession is incredible.
My colleagues in the engagement team are another inspiring group of people who come up with some amazing projects, like Safe To Be Me, The Close, and Time to Dance (for people living with dementia), using dance to tackle some real-life issues in Scotland.
I'm also proud to work for a company where everyone, directly involved or not, has embraced the Five Wishes campaign in the way that we have.
What are the biggest challenges of your job?
I suppose, with so much going on, it's getting enough time to make a dent in my to-do list.
What do you like most about working with Scottish Ballet?
I've recently started managing the company's Youth Exchange Programme and the Scottish Ballet Elders Company.
With Youth Exchange, we've just returned from Turin where the 18/19 company performed a new work at the Torino Danza Festival. Plus, I'm currently looking out for the Elders company's next performance platform, whether that's in the UK or elsewhere.
I also loved when Scottish Ballet took Highland Fling to the Highlands and Islands. It reminded me of the comradery that developed on the Scottish Opera Go Round tours and the tremendous enjoyment we all drew from working with, and performing to, people in some of the country's most beautiful communities.
What is your ''get up and go'' song?
Now, there's a question! Radio 4's Today programme gets me out of bed in the morning but, for something more inspirational...