Day in the life: Putting on a jolly good show in Dubai

As the founder of the theatrical production company Oddpost Entertainment, Sean Cornell, 47, spends his days thinking up characters, speeches and songs for shows for the company’s two bases in the United Kingdom and the UAE, where it has an office.

The company opened its Dubai branch more than four years ago after it was commissioned to produce a show for Ferrari World. Mr Cornell, who is based in his native England, speaks about a typical day working on a project in the UAE from the UK, and explains how technology helps staff sit next to each other even though they are thousands of miles apart.


I normally have my four-year-old daughter jumping up and down on me asking “is it morning time?” I wasn’t happy to wake up at this time until I had children. Showbusiness generally is an evening event.


We leave the house. I get my daughter and nine-year-old son to school and stand in the playground and catch up on all of the gossip with the rest of the parents. Then I rush straight to the office.


At the office it’s coffee first; it’s the law. Then I catch up on the emails, which is always quite interesting when you run a business in Dubai because the UAE is four hours ahead of us so I hit the ground running. We will take on a project, say Globo for instance. Global Village decided this year that they were going to have a mascot called Globo. We developed some live activities to promote Globo. We selected the four countries in Global Village that we thought we could get the most value from, have the most fun that resonated best with him. We said: “Wouldn’t it be fun if he did a square dance?” or “Let’s say that he’s gone to America”. That’s a nice idea, say Texas and a square dance. Excellent, let’s do that.


I take a call from Georgina Wixley, a director of the company who runs the Dubai office. The Globo show has now opened, so then we need to know how did it go, what is the reaction, what is the feedback? You can produce shows your whole life, but until it’s put in front of an audience you don’t know if it has worked. An awful lot of business is done on Skype. Some of the key people who are involved will open up a Skype window at 9.30am and that could be running until 3pm and sometimes you don’t talk for an hour, but it is like having them sit next to you. The process evolves as the day goes on, so as an idea enters your head you can literally start to talk about it there and then.


We call it the fat van, but basically it’s a sandwich van, and it turns up. Once I get my sandwich I just sit down and carry on doing whatever I was doing, such as some random research to find some unusual angles for whatever we are working on.


If it’s a quiet day I go and get the children at 3pm.


We get home. The afternoon is very structured because we have found, raising our children, that if we don’t have a very strict structure, then chaos would reign. We get in, sit down and instantly take on my son’s homework. My daughter is in a pre-prep, so it is: “Let’s get the colouring pencils out and let’s do some letters”. We all sit round the table and we just talk about the day. My son, being a nine-year-old boy, tells me nothing. My daughter, being a four-year-old, tells me everything, down to how many pieces of cucumber she had for morning break.


Teatime. Then they have a good half an hour of just charging about, turning the rooms upside down before bath and bed.


Once the kids are asleep, my wife and I generally have some tea. And then it’s just flop, find something terrible on the telly.


My wife and I then retire. We are that terrible couple who have a TV in the room and it’s not really about watching telly. It is about something to stare at until you pass out, which only takes generally about five minutes.

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Gillian Duncan

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