Steve Venacomb, known as Vern, also go by Vernray and a number of other names. Production manager in uhh theatre, well a number of technical capacities in theatre and film. So I’ve worked in most areas backstage and a little bit in film as a, worked as a gaffer uhh also produced a movie uhhh 2009. Umm because a friend of mine is a director and we just decided to make a film and it went quite well so I sort of like slipped into that world as well umm so that’s essentially what I do.
We did a… I think it was Dark Inc umm because they’ve got all these sub-companies haven’t they umm Spare Tyre? Sort of like a, like an umbrella of various companies and it was the Dark Inc crowd who were doing a show that we we did in London somewhere, I can’t remember where it was, but then then we took it to Cardiff to the umm the Millennium Centre there we and we did the show in the foyer. Umm that was good, that was good and I don’t remember an awful lot of back then (laughs) … but it was interesting that crowd because they go off piece a lot, off script, and you just have to wing it and I I love that and I you know and I I was enjoying (laughs) working with Arti on those shows because we knew that we’d just have to you know have a lot of umm latitude in terms of umm the technical aspects because you know you can’t there’s no, you have cues, tight cues umm for these shows which you work out but it never goes to plan because the guys just go off on one so (laughs) it’s often just looking at, across as Arti where she’s sitting (laughs) and nodding to each other and deciding “right I’ll press go on some sound cue or lighting cue.” Often it’s just to keep the show moving along and its umm so you know you’ve never got the same show twice which is great.
You know a lot of those guys have learning difficulties of one description or another umm but the company never patronises them, like so many companies can do, umm play down you know umm to the disabilities are just umm you know as I was saying before they’re umm… treated as as young or older artists and they have to come up to certain standards umm so… as I say you know that precludes them any sort of level of patronisation… of them and and so they so they grow and you know they feel proud in the work that they have done you know because everyone knows when they’re being belittled (laughs) … being patronised and… there’s only so much you can do umm and because they’re allowed to blossom like that and a lot of the work is devised through their own thoughts you know that’s what you know it is, on occasions you know umm it can can tough to you know to for audiences uhh because they’re being challenged really … you know umm because this work has come from the minds of the people who are actually performing and not some writer who’s got like a second hand idea about what these people’s lives are like so and that’s why the work’s powerful that’s what people often you know leave in tears (laughs)… it’s it’s affecting where as work can so easily umm just be you know a trite little show. None of their, none of that. I don’t think anything Spare Tyre has done is a trite little show (laughs) you know it’s a lot more powerful than that.
There’s a family atmosphere about the company and because people stay that long uhh you’re working with the same people you know each each time they’ll be umm characters who you know and your friends with and it’s like you just reignite those friendships so it’s always nice coming coming back and everyone that sort of comes in umm seems to be seems to be the same ilk so we’re good at hiring people. There’s no unnecessary stress. In most theatre companies there’s someone who’s piling on the (laughs) unnecessary stress. It’s usually a, you know, a director or a producer or someone who’s under pressure themselves and they put it onto everyone else. I’ve never felt that. Every everyone’s on the the same track and you know focused on the same goal and they’re all they all understand that you need to be flexible in order for an organisation like Spare Tyre to work. It’s great like that you know it’s good good to come home and have a little, you know, little party with Spare Tyre (laughs)
Vern is a production manager and has worked with us on several shows including Dark Inc.
Vern talked to us about what it’s like to work on a Spare Tyre production and the difference between us and other participatory arts organisations.