Matt Pain was born and raised in Plymouth, and whilst studying in the city, he became involved in TRP’s People’s Company and Young Company productions. He has since gone on and worked backstage on UK and International tours of shows including Footloose and Flashdance.
A couple of months ago, Matt returned to his home city as Deputy Stage Manager on the UK tour of The Mousetrap, the longest running theatre production in the world.
Although Matt didn’t always have his sights set on working in theatre, he had been to see several productions with his family.
“I remember seeing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium when I was a kid and then the first show I watched in Plymouth was The BFG.
“I was very much wanting to be a pilot and had a typical boy’s dream of wanting to fly a plane. I did GCSE and A Level drama, and I came and saw quite a lot of shows here, and I fell in love with theatre.”
Whilst Matt was studying to be a pilot, his A Levels didn’t go to plan and so he began searching for other career options.
“I changed career paths overnight and went to college to train on a live event production course. I really enjoyed it and quickly realised stage management is my thing, and lighting was a close second. In the end it worked out quite nicely for me.”
When Matt was in his second year of college, he discovered TRP’s People’s Company and applied to be the Deputy Stage Manager on a production called Love and Information in The Drum. His application was successful, and he continued working with the theatre on more shows.
“I ended up doing six or seven shows with the Young Company and People’s Company and I got to meet some fantastic people.
“Although I had come from a college background and they trained us in all technical fields, it was in this building and with the people in this building, that I probably learned the most. Even going onto drama school and spending three years there specifically looking at stage management, I still credit the people at TRP with more in terms of training.
“A lot of the traits I have as a stage manager are probably things I picked up here.”
Matt claims he was incredibly lucky to secure his first job in theatre.
“After three years at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I went for lunch with a friend who was working with a director, who I’d worked with before, and landed my first job on the UK tour of Flashdance as a cover Assistant Stage Manager. It was nice to leave drama school and get into something I really wanted to do.”
Matt travelled to South Korea with the show for 10 weeks, something he described as “an amazing experience.” He then worked on shows including Friendsical, Mischief Theatre’s Groan Ups, Private Peaceful and Footloose on their nationwide tours, as well as a stint as the cover Assistant Stage Manager on the 2021 TRP panto Aladdin, starring Joe Pasquale.
For the past eight months, Matt has been working as the Deputy Stage Manager on The Mousetrap, as the iconic Agatha Christie play celebrates its 70th year on stage. As part of this landmark tour, the show visited TRP in March.
“It’s one of those shows that most people have got as a bit of a bucket list show. The name sells itself and it’s a staple of British theatre, so to be working on such an iconic show is a fulfilling experience. It’s been running for 70 years now, and people still come back which is brilliant.
“It’s been lovely being back in Plymouth where it all started. There’s something about walking onto that stage in The Lyric and looking out at the auditorium, it feels like home. For a long time, it was a kind of second home, so it’s always nice coming back. The audiences here are just brilliant.”
The main role of a Deputy Stage Manager is to cue everybody else involved, as well as technical aspects such as lighting changes, sound effects and scene changes, making sure the production runs smoothly and on time.
“A friend of mine once described it as like driving a bus. If you stop, nobody’s going anywhere, and I thought that’s quite a good way of describing it. It can be quite a bit of responsibility on you, but I like the excitement of not really know what’s going to happen next. It’s live theatre, anything can happen!”
Although Matt is constantly travelling the country and the world for work, Plymouth will always be home.
“I was born in Plymouth and lived here for 22 years, and then I lived in London for five years. Then when Covid hit, I ended up moving back down here, and have stayed ever since.
“It’s difficult for touring because it’s quite hard to get back sometimes, depending on where you are in the country, so it’s always nice when you get to come back, it feels like a nice full circle moment.”
Watch Matt’s video: