Director, Mark Ager is the founder of XM Automation. He is an industry-leading innovator in automation for live entertainment, with a wealth of experience in theatre automation spanning 40 years.

Mark’s first role was with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1983 as Systems Engineering Manager at the Barbican Theatre, where he was responsible for one of the first power flying systems installed in the UK. While there, he studied management and gained an MSc in Robotics and Industrial Automation. 
He applied this knowledge at a stage engineering company, where he was responsible for the design of automation and power flying systems and then spent three years in industrial automation.


It was in 1994, that Mark set up Stage Technologies, the specialists in theatre automation systems, where he developed:

  • The Acrobat control system, a computerised control system allowing multiple groups of axes to be controlled from a single console. 
  • A system to allow free ranging computer-controlled trucks to move to pre-plotted positions on stage (first used on Martin Guerre 1996). 
  • Pathway software, a significant milestone in automation technology, allowing an operator to plot 3-dimensional paths (and later 6D paths) in space. (First used on Witches of Eastwick, 2000)
  • Leading Stage Technologies to be one of the worlds leading suppliers of automation and engineering systems.

Working around the globe, Mark’s successes include:

  • The Han Show in Wuhan, China – the world’s largest theatre show which had 250 axes moving 1000 tonnes of stage machinery
  • A key role in the engineering development of the innovative Bridge Theatre, London
  • Two Queen’s Awards for Export.

Mark is Chartered Engineer with a string of qualifications:

  • FIET Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Technology
  • MSc Robotics and Industrial Automation, Imperial College.  
  • DMS Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies
  • MA Physics New College, Oxford University.

In addition to Mark’s many areas of expertise, he has also lectures at theatre colleges and has spoken at industry conferences on the topic of theatre automation and stage engineering. He is also the author of ‘Automation in the Entertainment Industry – a User’s Guide’, the reference book for professionals and students of automation.