Saturday 20 July 2019

Insider Life: Marketing and PR manager Claire Whelan

Claire Whelan is head of marketing and PR at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

Claire Whelan
Claire Whelan

"My alarm goes off at 7.45am every morning but most times I need to put it on snooze about three times before I physically wake up.

Immediately I give myself 15 minutes to check emails and respond to anything urgent. The newspaper cuttings come in at 8.20am, and I'm keen to see what mentions or reviews we'll have gotten. I guess it's part of our modern working day to check emails first thing. I've gotten a bit better at putting the phone down throughout the day, but it's become a real habit to check stuff in the mornings.

I park a bit away from the theatre, the ten-minute walk to my office is my favourite part of the day; the calm before the storm. At any given time, there is so much happening in the theatre. One morning you'll have a photocall, another time you'll be taking journalists to the UK to see a show that's coming up. I love dealing with journalists. For War Horse, we brought the (wooden) horse down to the Curragh. We have Dirty Dancing coming up in a while, so we're trying to think up some quirky ideas for the opening night.

You're always dealing with certain colourful personalities in theatre and some are easier to deal with than others. It's part and parcel of the job, so you have to remain professional with everyone. Some people want a certain type of water or food, or want their dressing room in a certain way.

We've had the following famous faces in [on opening nights]: Liam Cunningham, Peter Coonan, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Amy Huberman, the Xpose ladies, Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, Aoibhín Garrihy, Derek Mooney, and Jennifer Maguire, who was even in the Priscilla Queen of the Desert show. I think we have built up a good reputation and they seem to enjoy a night at the theatre.

A particularly special night in terms of celebs and occasion was the Electric Burma Concert for Aung San Suu Kyi. Bono, Vanessa Redgrave, Damien Rice, Declan O'Rourke, Lupe Fiasco and Bob Geldof were in attendance on the night and working the red carpet was pretty special.

When I made the move to theatre I was really surprised at the amount of Irish people who went to see musicals. I didn't realise there was such a huge audience for it. Producers are coming into Ireland realising that they can do successful business and get the numbers through the door now.

I didn't know I wanted to be in PR straightaway, but once I got into it I was properly hooked. When I was in college I was involved in college radio and went to London to work for a music magazine. I worked for MCD and fell in love with my job. I get to work on everything: opera, pop, musical theatre, drama and comedy. The marketing side of things allows the logical part of my brain to work and the PR aspect utilises my creative side.

I try to leave the office between 7-8pm each day, although you have to be at the theatre for opening nights, of course. Two years ago I took up acting again, as I'd done a lot of it in the past. I go to a workshop class every Wednesday. I'm a real believer that if you live in a city, you should fully embrace what's on offer. I love going to gigs and meeting friends for food.

At home, I like to read a good bit – I'm reading Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House right now – and my new obsession on Netflix is Suits. I love dipping into Spotify too: Damon Albarn, Greg Porter and Paolo Nutini are on my current playlist. But I love peace and quiet at home for the most part. I check emails before bed and I sort out reminders for the next day. It might sound a bit extreme, but some of my best ideas come to me when I'm at home."

For more information on the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, log onto or call 01 677 7999.

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday’s Irish Independent

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent

Top Stories

Most Read

Independent Gallery

Your photos

Send us your weather photos promo

Celebrity News