Enjoying life on the road

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TECHNICIAN may be on John Hodges’ business card, but Jack-of-all-trades would be a more fitting title.

Stage manager, production manager, cook and driver are just some of the other roles he fills behind the scenes of touring concerts and events.

Since 2013, Hodges has worked with the Moscow Ballet “La Classique”, The Ten Tenors, Kostroma Russian Dance Spectacular and at the end of August he finished at Invercargill’s Civic Theatre to head out on the road on a more permanent basis. But with the nature of his job he won’t be saying goodbye to the theatre completely.

Currently he’s acting as production manager and lighting technician for Isla Grant’s I’m A Survivor tour of Australia and New Zealand, which will bring him back to Invercargill on Friday, November 3.

Hodges said he first found out about the opportunity through a colleague, who told him Grand International Concerts, which promotes and manages the shows, were looking for a technician.

As it turned out, their team had already been looking at Hodges for the role, and he got the job.

“I went on the first tour and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

His early roles were driving and a bit of cooking, and it’s steadily built up from there.

Hodges loves it.

“Entertainment has been my life.”

Along with being a former DJ, he said he had worked in many firms around town and has had experience in electronics, as a school caretaker and helping with outdoor rock concerts.

“Over the years I’ve covered quite a few things.”

He said his first real experience working with an international group was with the Topp Twins in Alexandra.

Although he was a bit nervous and didn’t know much about the show, Hodges said it was a real success.

“You’ve got to step outside the frame and use your imagination and say, ‘how would you do this if you’re a performing artist?’, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Being multiskilled he said he was also a “Mr Fixit” and “Camp Mum”. Especially with the Russian ballet company.

“I treat the Russians as my own children. It’s just like one big massive family.”

Hodges said he didn’t find the language barrier a problem and enjoyed doing anything that’s needed – from fixing the bus to whipping up a birthday cake.

“Those are the sort of things I do to keep the family together and I really enjoy it… That’s my nature though, I like to look after people.”

Although it could be a bit stressful, the hours were sometimes long and they had the odd mishap, Hodges said it was all part of the job.

“To have something offered to you like this is one in a million. I know a lot of people who’ve asked me if I’ve got room in my suitcase.”

With touring generally being three months on, three months off, Hodges said he would still be based in Invercargill between productions.

But he did say he would miss the Civic Theatre, where he’d been working since 2005. However, touring on the road was a dream come true.

“I dreamt about this many years ago… but never thought it would happen. I’m making the best of it.”

He encouraged others to do the same.

“If you get a chance, take it.”

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