Welcome back to How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career journey series.
This week we’re chatting with Lyndsay Hebert, 42, who is the performance manager at the Edinburgh Dungeon, in Edinburgh’s city centre.
It’s Lyndsay job to make sure the visitors are suitably terrified – while also teaching them about the capital’s history.
Over 20 years in the job, Lynsey has worked her way up from scare actor to performance lead, now working on scripts and research – though she’s still dipping her toe into acting from time to time.
Here’s how she made it all happen.
Hi Lyndsay. What made you get into this role?
I love history and the theatre, and this role combines the two.
Telling our amazing city’s dark and macabre history in an immersive and interactive style is at the heart of what we do.
Also, working with a cast of phenomenal actors every day is what makes my job so fun and fulfilling.
Had you done any acting training?
Yes, I studied acting at college, but in all honesty, I really learnt the trade from working here, and performing in front of thousands of visitors every year.
Being a dungeon actor is not as easy as people may think.
Was it always the plan to stay in the role for so long ? What kept you there?
Again, to be honest, there is no other job in the world like mine.
Having the freedom to create theatre, to research and write shows, and produce scares and gags, is a dream come true.
We thrill and excite our guests, and bring new and adventurous ways to introduce Scotland’s history to audiences.
I haven’t told all the stories yet, so that keeps me going.
What’s the best ‘scare’ you’ve delivered?
The show that has the best scares is still our Cannibal show.
The whole experience puts our audience on edge as they are circled like prey by our hungry cannibals.
At a time when people are career switching often, how have you managed to make your job feel exciting and fresh over such a long period?
I think because I love what we do, and I am proud of the product.
The creative industries are hard to get consistent employment in, and I feel I am very lucky to have worked in this industry for my whole career.
The Dungeon is always changing and developing, so it never feels stale, and I get to create and breathe new life into old stories.
Is there anything you’ve looked to for inspiration on delivering scares?
Everything inspires me, I love watching new theatre, movies, tv shows, books.
Inspiration is on every walk you take in this city, as the very stories we tell happened on the streets we walk on to this day.
An average day in the working life of Lyndsay Hebert
9am-10am: I check emails and see what’s in store for the day.
10am113.0am: One-on-one work with new performers on characterisation, checking blocking, and talking over any show issues.
11:30am-2pm: Some days are writing days, where I will research a period of history and develop ways to incorporate this into the show. Other days involves looking at new gags and ways of immersing the guests.
2pm: Stop for a bit of lunch.
2:30pm-5pm: Time for costume, make up and props maintenance. We have show rehearsals when we are installing a new show. We create soundtracks and promotional videos with the help of external businesses, and we can often be found in the city doing photoshoots.
5pm: Start wrapping up for the day by checking in with the team. There are no two days the same and I must always be ready just in case I need to jump on to the floor, and perform as one of our many characters.
What do you love most about the job?
Th actors who work so hard to bring to life the stories we tell.
They are such a hard working talented cast, and I love creating new things for them, and seeing what they do with the characters.
What do you dislike the most?
We do spend a lot of time in the dark, so summer can be hard as you don’t get to see the sun on the rare occasion it may come out – and in winter it’s dark when you arrive and dark when you leave.
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