Illuminate (Spring 2011)
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Illuminate Spring 2011
Welcome to the spring 2011 issue of Illuminate, your biannual Patron newsletter. Inside this edition youll find a greeting from Artistic Director Edward Hall; introductions from the Development team; an interview with writer/director Mike Leigh, who is bringing Ecstasy to the main auditorium of Hampstead Theatre; insights on working on both new writing and classic plays actor Richard Clothier, who starred in Enlightenment at Hampstead in autumn 2010 and will be returning as Richard III with Propeller in summer 2011; as well as a calendar of forthcoming events. This is your newsletter here we aim to provide you with a unique perspective on Hampstead Theatre, to offer insight not accessible elsewhere. If theres any-thing you would like to see in a future issue, please let us know.
Rehearsal image of Ecstasy
Photo credit: Edward Hall
Edward Hall, Artistic Director Welcome, Patrons, to Illuminate. Here you will catch a glimpse of the life and action behind the scenes at Hamp-stead Theatre we are pleased to be able to share the crea-tive process in more detail with you, our loyal Patrons. I hope this newsletter continues and deepens your under-standing of, and pride in, the work we produce for you. Many thanks for making all of this possible.
Photo credit: Helen Maybanks
The Development Team Betsy Remes, Development Manager firstname.lastname@example.org 449 4174 I have been working in development in the performing arts for five years, and although my back-ground is in music I am thoroughly enjoying learning about the world and language of theatre. In my role here I focus on encouraging and nurturing relationships with individuals and organisations; I believe that every supporter we gain increases and enhances the Hampstead Theatre family and I hope that the work we produce for you is as valuable to you as your gifts are to us. Sally Wilson, Development Manager email@example.com 449 4155 I have been in fundraising since 2002, when I joined the team at Watford Palace Theatre to raise money for their 8.9 million capital campaign. I worked there until 2009 when, taking a brief break from fundraising, I then worked in the education department at Trestle Theatre Company before joining Hampstead Theatre in July 2010. I am delighted to be working at Hampstead Theatre during this exciting time and thank everyone for their support.
Photo credit: Edward Hall
Interview with Mike Leigh What is the experience of revisiting a play, and why did you chose Ecstasy?I have never redirected a play of mine before, and its not something that has ever interested me; the only one which I have had any interest in do-ing is Ecstasy because its a tragedy with comedy in it. Its a play about loneliness, about relation-ships and pain, about isolation, and all of those things. Basically, its a play that still moves me and has depths to explore. I suggested it to Ed to do, and when he said, Would you like to do it? I thought, Well, why not? Im not really in the business of revisiting my plays. But I do have a very big soft spot for Ecstasy and I want to do it as much as anything else to make sure it gets done right. Although it is set in 1979, Ecstasy is not specifi-cally a period play what do you feel it says about todays world? Its relevant because its about the way we are, its about relationships and feelings and lost opportu-nities and life passing you by and also it contains positive good relationships. Its a sad play but I think uplifting, and Im sure it moves people. It did and I think it will. There are depths to ex-plore.
What do you feel is unique about your directing process, and what is special about how you work with actors? I think the main answer to that is that I dont really know the division between my function as a director and my function as a writer. I normally write and direct my material in an organic and three-dimensional way. I mean, I never go away and write a script and bring it back to the actors; I work with the actors and it all gets worked out in a practical way so its difficult to talk about ones ideas as a director normally in that con-text. Im much concerned with giving space to actors to be creative. But I am a storyteller and I like to create work that has its own kind of disci-pline and order and precision. Is your process of making a film different from that of making a play? I have to say, I very much enjoy doing theatre and theatre is in my bloodstream and in my world, but my greater love affair is with film, but that sounds more negative than it is. Actually, doing Ecstasy in this context here at the Hamp-stead with the kind of people that are onstage, who are brilliant, and the backstage team, is very stimulating; its great. What has it been like to come back to Hamp-stead Theatre? Its a funny thing, its both coming back to Hampstead and it isnt, because the Hampstead that I worked in was a completely different ball-game; it was a little box around the corner of which I have fond memories. However, I am thoroughly enjoying it and its great. It was quite a lot of fun when Abigails Party was re-vived, my last play at the old Hampstead which I didnt actually direct, but this is a greater version of the same experience.
Doing Ecstasy in this context with the kind of people that are onstage, who are brilliant, and the backstage team, is very stimulating; its great.
A Word with Richard Clothier Last autumn, Edward Hall asked me to be in the first production he was to direct as the new Artis-tic Director of Hampstead Theatre. The play was Enlightenment by Shelagh Stephenson; it told the story of a couple, Lia and Nick, whose son disappeared while on a gap year trip. I was de-lighted, very grateful, and slightly surprised at the offer as Propeller, also led by Ed, was soon due to start rehearsals for Shakespeares Richard III in which I was playing Richard. It meant if I did both there would be an overlap of three weeks Dick by day, Nick by night. I had some concerns as to whether I would have the stamina to be able to rehearse such a demanding role [as Richard] while still maintaining the energy to perform [as Nick] in the evening. Ed assured me it would all be fine and thanks to the good grace and generosity of both casts I was nursed through. But for three of the four weeks Shelagh's wonderful play was on, my working day would last 14 hours and would include two daytime rehearsals, a evening performance (plus one on the afternoon on mati-nee days), and more cycling than my bike would care to remember. It was quite a run! This summer, Propeller will bring its productions of Comedy of Errors and Richard III to Hamp-stead, something we are looking forward to enormously. I will be very interested to see how these two plays sit in the space and the effect they have on the energy around the place. A thea-tres character changes hugely with each production; it seems to absorb whatever is being pre-sented on stage and then percolates it through the entire building. But how remiss; I realize I havent introduced us properly yet. Propeller is an all male Shakespeare company that has been around for the best part of 15 years during which time we have mounted 11 productions perform-ing to tens of thousands of people all around the world. Hampstead Theatre is a very different venue from the humble school hall in Kandy, deep in the heart of Sri Lanka, where we faced our harshest critics to date: a troupe of monkeys who clearly unimpressed by what they had seen of our technical rehearsal chose to deliver their critique in a most unequivocal manner by hurling balls of excrement at us! It's probably not escaped your notice that the plays we're performing this summer would have been considered new writing about 400 years ago but, hey, this is Shakespeare, and what is eternal is contemporary. When you hear about a despotic power-mad Machiavelli, "a bloody ty-rant and a homicide," a leader who would plunge his country into civil war if it meant he could retain his power, would you think of the fifteenth-century King Richard III or someone in North Af-rica on the front of your paper today? While you think about that, let me deliver a word to the wise: if you're coming to see Richard III and have booked seats in the front two rows, don't wear anything too expensive or white. You have been warned!
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan
Calendar of Events 14 April -14 May A Hampstead Downstairs production The Stock Dawa 16 April 7 May A Royal Shakespeare Company commission Little Eagles 12-28 May A Royal Shakespeare Company production in association with Filter Silence 19 May 11 June A Hampstead Downstairs production Belongings 2-18 June A Royal Shakespeare Company commission American Trade 22 June 9 July A Propeller production Richard III 23 June 9 July A Propeller Production Comedy of Errors 27 June Richard III: pre-show reception and post-show Q&A with Artistic Director Edward Hall 30 June Comedy of Errors: pre-show reception and post-show Q&A with Artistic Director Edward Hall To learn more about these productions or to book tickets, please call 0207 722 9301 or visit http://www.hampsteadtheatre.com.