We use cookies on this website to improve how it works and how it’s used. For more information visit our Cookies page.

Accept & Continue
  • Celebrating-Somersets-Creative-And-Cultural-Practitioners-Amy-Batty

Celebrating Somerset’s creative & cultural practitioners... Amy Batty

posted 01 Mar 2024
Celebrating Somerset’s creative & cultural practitioners... Amy Batty

In the latest a series of monthly blogs celebrating Somerset’s creative & cultural practitioners, our Arts Engagement & Outreach Officer Nick White meets…

Amy Batty

Following Wise Children’s production of Blue Beard, just after the performers took their first bow, the production’s stage management team joined the cast for the curtain call. It’s rewarding to see four people dressed head-to-toe in black uniform, headsets around their necks, sharing the applause with actors in an array of theatrical costume. They do this at Shakespeare’s Globe too, but in theatres across the world, it’s a rare sight.

When I mention this to Yeovil’s Amy Batty, her eyes light up, before a quizzical look. “I mean that sounds wonderful,” she says, “but I don’t know…”  Typically, a show’s stage management and technical teams lurk in the shadows, lit only by deep blue light. Their skill is to be the linchpin of a production, essential to the success of a show, invisible.


Amy has worked across backstage roles as Assistant Stage Manager (ASM), Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) and Stage Manager (SM) for two of the UK’s leading touring opera companies: Welsh National Opera (WNO) and English Touring Opera (ETO). She’s also worked on the Octagon’s world-famous Yeovil panto. A member of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s stage management alumni, Amy threw herself head-first into non-stop work experience behind the scenes in the West End including Hetty Feather, Matilda and the Olivier Awards. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at Drury Lane was seminal. “Midway through the television scene when they interview the lucky golden ticket winners, that I KNEW I just HAD to do this as a career. Stage Management. I bought a golden ticket keyring from the gift shop after the show to always remind me of that lightbulb moment.” Then, following a mock job interview with WNO as part of her course, she landed a real job with WNO and never looked back.

Amy is a keen-bean tourist, work taking her around the world and the country. This season, she’ll be going to York for the first time. The promise of the sensory experience of the Jorvik Viking Centre tickles her. I ask, will she take the duck? Duck Grylls, Amy’s travel companion and a staple member of the WNO and ETO companies, she never leaves home without him. He even has his own Instagram account. She smiles. “Give him a shake!”. I oblige. A soft rattle. “Sand, from Dubai. The thing people don’t realise about rubber ducks,” her smile continues, “is how mouldy they get when they’re in and out of water.” A pause. “Everyone wants to know about the duck. I could never have anticipated how important he would be to me, or how popular he’d be.”  She doesn’t stop smiling.


I wonder whether Amy misses performing. She inhales a deep in-breath. Of course, she does. Round Yeovil way, she’ll perpetually be known as Mrs Lovett, from Yeovil College’s 2011 production of Sweeney Todd, performed at The Octagon. She loves musical theatre. She loves singing. She very, very nearly, had to play a bull in WNO’s Carmen only to be thwarted at the last minute. She loves backstage tours, when audiences can see behind the scenes, and she can introduce them to her side of the curtain. She muses that her parents had a unique experience of Carmen, sitting high up in the wings, watching Amy and her team work backstage. “They loved it. We must be in the right place at the right time, in sync with each other. It’s like a dance.”  She’ll never say never to performing again but being backstage gives her the same kind of buzz.

Her personality is a mix of grandmotherly wisdom that belies six and a half years of working professionally, and an infectious playfulness that makes you feel the unbridled promise of youth. An hour with Amy makes me reflect on what makes a good work colleague. The creative industries are a patchwork of jobs, skills & experiences. Theatre can be a stressful industry to work in. A huge amount of the workforce is, like Amy, self-employed. There can be long, quiet periods between jobs, which when they come, often mean you’re far away from home.  Consequently, you need to create an environment of trust and collaboration. I believe you need people like Amy, who make you feel safe, and who you know will lighten the mood at the right time.

When she’s calling* a show, she likes to pretend she’s a radio presenter. I can imagine her smiling, pretend microphone, faux-80’s DJ voice and all: Welcome to Batty FM, today we’ll be bringing you live opera all the way from…

I’d love to tune in.


Instagram @duckgrylls

*The Deputy Stage Manager ‘calls’ a show. When they do this, they follow the words (& music) on the script (& score) to give different departments - typically Lighting (LX), Sound (SFX), Audio Visual (AV), Stage Management and performers - their cues. It requires excellent communication skills and helps make sure the right things happen at the right time.


left July 2024 right
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday