New staff member, Alex McCombie, talks new role and finding a job that fits

We’re very lucky here at Interactive Theatre International. We have a strong, tight-knit team of talented people working all across the world to keep our shows polished and fresh. We have teams in production, customer service, sales, marketing, PR and design, as well as performers in the shows. And every member brings something unique and valuable to ITI. This year, in amongst the madness of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we were lucky enough to welcome a brand new member as Creative Traffic Coordinator – Alex McCombie!

Alex has a huge spectrum of knowledge across lots of different functions so we’re delighted to share a bit about her: we love to post these verbatim interviews so that you can read about the interviewee and their experience from their perspective and in their own words. That’s why ITI’s Caitlin Page took some time to speak to Alex about her new role, her past experience, and looking forward to the future…

Pictured: Alex McCombie – newest employee

Caitlin: Hi Alex! First of all – in your own words, please describe your new role with ITI.

Alex: Sure! ITI has five current shows, including two London West End residencies, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience and the newer Only Fools The (cushty) Dining Experience. There are also constant tours around the world for all the shows – the company is a phenomenon! With that, there’s a lot of artwork that needs to be produced and I’m here to manage the workflow, schedule everything and make sure it all gets done. I basically act as an interpreter between two different languages. I figure out what is being asked for (often explained in riddles and secret code), and then I translate it into a language that our design team can understand.

C: I know you have an MA in radio journalism… how did you go from there into brand design and management?

A: When I graduated I started working as a broadcast journalist. At one point, I was given the opportunity to go on tour with feminist punk choir Gaggle, so I quit. Then, during the Tottenham riots, my flat burned down and my husband and I lost everything. It was a hugely difficult time. Once I recovered from that I decided I wanted to do something to help other people so I worked as a voluntary campaigns assistant for Hackney Green Party. I really loved the work which pushed me to apply for a job with cancer research charity, Leuka. My first task with them was to project manage the rebrand of the whole charity. On my first day I found myself at one of the top brand consultancies in London with our Chief Executive – I was there with my bright pink hair thinking “who am I, I don’t belong here!”, but I’m so thankful for that opportunity.

C: You produce and perform in a feminist collective, The Ugly Girl Club – would you like to tell us about that and the experience of producing it?

A: The Ugly Girls Club is about accepting ourselves as ‘ugly’ in order to focus on our real contribution to the world. It’s about valuing women for their ideas, actions, humour and intelligence before appearance. Our first Fringe show was called ‘Love Letters to Rappers’ – I was a producer on the show and co-wrote reimagined, haunted versions of rap songs for a choir, using the original lyrics. There’s one Eminem song where the lyrics are so misogynistic, degrading and violent towards women – people are actually shocked that they are from that song. They know the track but the words are hidden by a catchy riff, funky baseline… the lyrics don’t get noticed, but they’re entering our subconscious. This is especially harmful to young people who look up to these musicians as role models.

C: You have performances littered throughout your resume – what kind of performance do you do and how did you get into it?

A: I like to either perform as part of a group with a political/social/feminist message, or as a character that I create with a more traditional guitarist/band/piano. My dad managed rock bands when I was a teenager, which got me into it – my first band was an Oasis cover band, at school, called ‘Arachna’ (as in arachnophobia)! Since then I’ve been lucky enough to play some amazing shows at some amazing venues, including Royal Albert Hall, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Bestival, on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral at the Occupy London Camp, Bergen Fest, on Lauren Lavern’s 6 Music show…

C: I also know you worked Brighton Fringe earlier this year, managing their print marketing – what was that like?

A: I loved working at Brighton Fringe. It was my first role in the arts and I remember thinking ‘at last – I’ve found my tribe, I’ve finally found the people I need to work with’. It’s one of the reasons I am so excited to be with ITI.

C: That’s great to hear! On that topic, what are some of the other aspects to this new role that you are excited about?

A: I’m loving the strength behind this company. Our Artistic Director, Alison Pollard-Mansergh, is a woman who built this business from the ground up while raising five children – that’s awesome! The company really has that strong female feel about it and I think it’s somewhere where anyone can flourish.

C: That’s so true. Thanks so much for your time, Alex! Welcome aboard.

A: Thanks for chatting with me.

And that’s it from us this week. We’re very pleased to have added Alex to our team. As the company keeps expanding and adding shows, it’s becoming necessary to expand our numbers, but our team will keep its closeness for years to come.

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