Should one use the old clichéd analogy of an iceberg, then what the audience sees on stage is merely the tip. Below is an infinitely vast mass of invisible activity, auditions must be announced and coordinated, the director must rehearse, often for weeks on end; lighting technicians must design the lighting; set designers sent to their drawing boards, carpenters must sharpen their tools; there are schedules to be drawn up, make-up artists booked, costumiers, props masters…. Most plays and musicals travel, therefore sets must be packed into trucks and transported, and if overseas, flown; accommodation for actors booked. It is a busy industry employing thousands of artists, craftsmen and technicians working to precision like a highly efficient and effective factory floor. There is one person who must organize all of this. Ande Gibson is one such person.
Ande was born in the heart of London, around the corner from Covent Gardens; the obvious first stop if you love opera and want a career in theatre. He did his apprenticeship and learnt from the best in the world. He came to South Africa and again worked his way through the ranks here. Who could be better qualified to manage productions as enormous as Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Miserables and The Lion King.
There are few like him and he has much to teach. His interview gives us a perspective of the scale of the industry, the extent of the artists and the technicians it employs and the potential growth that lies below.