Career Ladder: John Stalker

Career Ladder: John Stalker

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – ensemble (photo Alastair Muir).jpg
John Stalker during his time at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh.jpg
By John Stalker,  Director of John Stalker Productions and Executive Producer of Music & Lyrics Ltd.
Date Published: 30 November 2016
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1966 - 1973
Tillicoultry Primary School, Ann Street, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire

1973 - 1979
Alva Academy, Park Street, Alva, Clackmannanshire

1979 - 1983
University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh
MA (Hons) in Politics

1983 -1984
City University, John Street, London
Post-Graduate Diploma in Arts Administration 


Duke’s Playhouse Lancaster
Administrative Director 1984 - 1989

Liverpool Playhouse
Administrative Director 1989 - 1992

Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Executive Producer & Chief Executive 1992 - 2002

Festival City Theatres Trust Festival Theatre & King’s Theatre Edinburgh
Chief Executive 2002 - 2012

John Stalker Productions Limited
Owner/Director 2012 - present

Music & Lyrics Limited
Director & Executive Producer 2012 - present

I am very lucky to have worked in the theatre business for over thirty years, successfully dabbling in each of the holy trinity of TMA (how old am I?) definitions of our industry - subsidised repertory, resident manager and commercial producer. The Arts Admin Diploma course at City University in London laid the groundwork for a remarkable appointment as Administrative Director at the Dukes Playhouse, aged 22. Not so much an apprenticeship as a baptism of fire! Next stop was Liverpool Playhouse and an identical role after five extremely happy and fruitful years in Lancaster. The Liverpool of the time was the end of the Militant era. This produced a very broken civic society - really tough times for the arts in that great city.

Joining Artistic Director Bill Alexander at Birmingham Rep in the role of Executive Producer followed.  Some great productions were created in this most important of UK regional theatres over the next ten years. Leaving sub reps behind my next assignment was as Chief Executive of Festival City Theatres in Edinburgh - two great presenting theatres in one of the world's great cities. This broadened my horizons to encompass ballet, opera, contemporary dance and musical theatre on a scale I had not previously experienced - and there was a fantastic festival to enjoy every August!

Keen to get back to production, I braved the elements by setting up my own production company and founding Music & Lyrics - a consortium of the UK's largest independent venues dedicated to creating high quality musical theatre – in 2012. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is our latest venture with The Addams Family premiering in 2017.

I have peppered my career with many industry related extra-curricular activities - over 20 years on TMA Council of Management, Chair of ACE's Touring Panel, Chair of Wee Stories Theatre for Children, eight years a board member of the International Society for the Performing Arts, a director of Creative and Cultural Skills, Co-Chair of the magnificent Dance Consortium and a trustee of Youth Music Theatre UK. If you are taking out you have to put back in.

All along the way I have worked with some exceptional people. Not everything has worked - far from it - but I have been in at the start of some great projects that have made a big difference - the open-air promenade theatre seasons in Lancaster immediately spring to mind. Now I am lucky that I work on productions that excite me with people I like working with…not a bad reason for getting up in the morning.

Life lessons with John Stalker

  1. Trust in those who are older (or sometimes younger) and wiser than you.
  2. Spend more time listening than talking.
  3. Invest as much as you can in helping those starting out on a career in theatre.

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