Northampton theatre's head of workshop retires after 44 'fantastic' years working with famous faces at Royal & Derngate

‘I’ll miss the camaraderie, banter and fun this job brings – and that’s all down to the fantastic people I’ve worked with,’ says Paul

Friday, 29th July 2022, 1:11 pm
Updated Friday, 29th July 2022, 1:12 pm
Paul Beasley, head of workshop, has left the Royal & Derngate after 44 years.
Paul Beasley, head of workshop, has left the Royal & Derngate after 44 years.

The Royal & Derngate’s head of workshop is retiring after 44 years working for the theatre.

Paul Beasley, also well-known as Beez, joined in 1978 and will be sorely missed by his colleagues – who put on an “amazing” send off for him.

He said: “It’s been an absolute rollercoaster and a fabulous time.

Paul was "touched" to find the Royal & Derngate had named the workshop after him at his leaving do.

“What I’ll miss most is the camaraderie, banter and fun this job brings – and that’s all down to the fantastic people I’ve worked with over the decades.

“Having said that, I do look forward to sitting back, relaxing and watching a show without seeing the, sometimes painful, behind the scenes that have gone into it.”

The team at the Royal & Derngate threw Paul a leaving ‘do’ last weekend, and he says he has “never seen an event like it” and they “really went to town”.

He had no idea what was going on, and turned up to greet 90 of his relatives, friends and colleagues, some dating back to when he first began.

Paul said: “The effort they went to was absolutely amazing and I couldn’t fault it.”

As part of the evening, tributes played on a large screen which Paul watched from the corner sat on a throne.

After he was given his presents, which included a trip to the MotoGP, an art set, and tickets to see one of his favourite bands, he was led backstage for his next surprise.

He looked up to find a hand-painted sign above the workshop, which the Royal & Derngate has named after him, and one of his sketches of a harlequin – as he likes to do art in his free time – framed and hung.

“I was really touched,” said Paul.

In his role as head of workshop, Paul worked with all sorts of people to ensure everything was organised and in the right place, and it “has not sunk in” that he will no longer dedicate his life to the theatre.

He said: “I’ll always remember in my early years when I was told ‘whatever happens, don’t forget theatre isn’t an exact science’ – that’s always stuck with me.”

Although it was difficult to pinpoint a favourite memory from the 44 years, Paul fondly looks back on the “wonderful people” he has worked with, meeting some famous faces – including Billy Connolly and Hayley Mills – and celebrating the Royal & Derngate’s 100th and 125th anniversaries.

Though, James Dacre, artistic director at Royal & Derngate, likes to poke fun at how long Paul has been there compared to the opening of the company itself.

Paul says End of the Rainbow, which starred at the theatre in 2010, was “an amazing production” and was “beautifully directed” – and he was proud to see it go on to be shown in the West End and Broadway.

“Each show is so different and it is impossible to pick a highlight,” said Paul.

Paul had links with the theatre even before working there, as he used to go and watch his former tutor, Henry Bird, paint the safety curtain – and he says he will “sorely miss it”.