June 17, 2020

The Day it was Curtains for Me

I have huge admiration for anyone who does anything technical in the theatre. My admiration partly comes from the fact that I am not very good at it. In fact, I’ll go further and say I should not be let near anything technical in a theatre and here’s an example.

“In a flash I realised I had been pulling on the wrong rope”

When I was starting out, I was backstage in a theatre one day when the stage manager rushed up to me and said, “I’m desperate. The fly man has gone off sick, can you operate the curtain for me – there’s no one else?” I’d never pulled a curtain before but wanting to help I said I’d be happy to. We climbed to the fly gallery where the curtains are pulled and he explained the small lights were red for stand by and green for Go! And that was pretty well it – easy as pie. It was the first night of a production of The Rivals and the buzz in the audience was already loud and strong.

I was nervous but ready. The red light came on and I prepared my rope. The green came up and off I went and the rope whirred away. I thought to myself – this is taking a while – so I looked down at the stage. I couldn’t understand what was happening because the beautiful red velvet curtains were billowing out on the front of the stage and overflowing into the audience. The bar that they were tied to was now so low that the actors could wave at the audience. In a flash I realised I had been pulling on the wrong rope. So, I stopped and started pulling the other. Actually, I pulled on it so much that it rose very quickly and flew out of sight of the audience until it hit the main grid with a resounding clunk. And that is how the production began. I was never asked again and I told myself to put my energy into what happens on the stage with the performers.

You may not know why it is considered bad luck to whistle in a theatre. In the old days the ropes were pulled by sailors and the commands were given by ship’s whistles – hence the need not to make a similar sound. I bet that cast would have liked to pipe me to the ceiling!


For 28 years Theatretrain Performing Arts Schools have been providing superior quality classes in acting, singing and dancing to 4 –18 year olds. Due to COVID 19 restrictions Theatretrain is now offering all young people between the ages of 4- 18 years of age who love to dance, act and sing the chance to take our FREE online and virtual lessons. Click here to register. 

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

Related Articles

Flying through Flanders

Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, recounts his Antwerp escapade, from coffee calamities to exploring vibrant theatres and explores how Belgium see value in the arts.
Read more >

Crazy for You

Join Theatretrain Artistic Director Kevin Dowsett as he shares the enchanting experience of watching 'Crazy for You' at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Dive into the magic of tap dancing, embrace the cheesy love stories, and discover why this musical is a perfect blend of joy and optimism.
Read more >

A Success Story

Dive into the vibrant world of theatre magic with Kevin Dowsett, Theatretrain's Artistic Director. Today, he shares the incredible journey of Callum Balmforth, a former student turned professional performer, making waves on and offstage!
Read more >

Saying Yes to Ideas

In this insightful blog, our Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett, explores the power of saying yes to ideas and the transformative impact it can have on creativity and communication.
Read more >

I Have a Dream   

In this blog post by Kevin Dowsett, the realms of reality TV and musical theatre come together. The blog provides a exploration of the inner mechanisms of a reality show, the varied skills of its contestants, and the skill of establishing a connection with an audience through song and character. His distinctive viewpoints illuminate this considerate analysis. For the complete blog post, please click on the link either above or below in the bio. ☝️👇
Read more >

Important Things in the Arts

In this blog by Theatretrain Director Kevin Dowsett, we delve into the vital role the arts played in his school days and how they shaped his career. Discover the concerning decline in performing arts education and the need to bring it back into the core of the school curriculum. Kevin emphasizes the life skills and personal growth that the arts provide and underscores their intrinsic value in nurturing young minds.
Read more >