Joni Carter, Resident Company Manager of The Royal Court, got her start with the Tower Theatre – read about her fascinating career and insights about backstage and production roles in ‘The Stage’.
During a long career as a stage and company manager, Joni Carter has had some unusual experiences. Although mostly working in theatre, she has also stage-managed big events such as the Victoria’s Secret catwalk fashion shows in London and Paris, where she had to step in when a superstar fell victim to her high heels. “Lady Gaga fell over and I had to pick her up,” she says. “None of her bouncers were around… But she was very nice about it.”
For the past four years, Carter has been company manager at the Royal Court in London, shaping a role that had been dormant for a while. When budget cuts began to bite at the Sloane Square venue, it lost the resident company manager role. It carried on for a few years without one, until Vicky Featherstone took over as artistic director in 2013 and she brought the role back. That’s when the Court hired Carter.
The role of a company manager varies from venue to venue, and from production to production, but Carter explains that she is in charge of employing all the freelance stage managers that work on the various productions, as well as workshops, readings and international work.
Carter didn’t train as a stage manager, but learned on the job, starting as a volunteer at the Tower Theatre, an amateur company in Islington. “Then I worked at 3 Mills Film Studios, I used to be the receptionist and did all the location and rehearsal room bookings. That’s when I met a lot of theatre companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Through the contacts I made at 3 Mills, I started doing bits of theatre. Then Soho Theatre were the first that gave me an assistant stage manager job. And it built from there.”