What it takes to be a World of Wearable Art stage manager

By Craig Beardsworth
Photography by Tamara Jones

Featured in Capital #14.
Subscribe to get the
real thing here.

Craig Beardsworth meets The World of Wearable Art stage manager, Ali Kirkpatrick.

Ali is a freelance stage manager. The average punter in row G never sees her but her work is vital for the show to run smoothly. It’s one of those jobs where an “average” day doesn’t exist. “Rehearsal days can be up to 12 hours, production week [leading up to opening night] can be up to 18, and one-off events can be all-nighters”. Despite this, she cheerily adds “it’s not as bad as it sounds”. The stage manager and their team are the main line of communication between the creative team and the production team. “We also manage the rehearsal room, and assist in the implementation of the creative concept through to reality. We make things operate for people – connecting the dots and problem solving to create a seamless event.”

The World of Wearable Arts show is her current project. This means managing 200 on-stage performers plus a 40-strong crew behind the scenes. WOW rehearsals are six days a week for six weeks before opening night (300 hours of onstage rehearsals) so Kirkpatrick takes her down time seriously “I pretend to do yoga and run a bit but with two little people (five and 20 months) most extracurricular activities revolve around their social lives”. When she does get out it involves KK on Ghuznee Street. “The food is super tasty and we are regulars so the staff just know our order.” At Moore Wilson’s “Tim at the coffee counter makes the best and cheapest coffee in town”. Breakfast at Prefab and Sunday brunch at Maranui also figure large and during WOW season after an 18-hour day, Cuckoo on the waterfront is the ideal late-night haunt.

The nature and scarcity of stage managing work means Kirkpatrick has to travel sometimes. Her husband, also in the industry, is currently touring in Europe so when they step off the plane a walk around the green belt or Otari Bush is a must to reconnect with their city. “I love the fact that this is the capital city, yet the beach is just there and the mountains are just over there. I love the food, the wine; the immense pride that we take in our coffee and the fact that it is ok to be a coffee snob.”

For a holidays a beach is vital. “My hubby races road bikes. Our breaks are often timed with his races. Tour of Northland (March) runs from Whangarei to Russell and back so the girls and I tiki-tour around, hang out on the beach and hug really big trees while hubby pedals his little socks off”.

“I have my girls, my man, my health and our little house – there isn’t much more I really need…perhaps those second-hand Versace boots on Etsy, but let’s be honest – I don’t really ‘need’ them”.


Sign up to our newsletter