Tag Archives: Interviews

Interview: Mark Ravenhill

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

“They can be quite unnerving,” Mark Ravenhill says of the Secret Theatre company, suggesting that their 12 months of working together has given way to a kind of openness he hasn’t come across in many rehearsal rooms. He elaborates further: “On the whole, everyone in British theatre is on these short contracts so everyone makes this big effort. And although you might think it’d be nice to be rid of that, it’s actually a little bit disarming for the first few days because they’re quite neutral. They’re very calm and centred. It takes a while to adjust to that.”

Ravenhill is a late addition to the Secret Theatre ensemble. He joined the company after Lyndsey Turner (who directed his adaptation of Candide at the RSC last year) suggested he write to Sean Holmes asking to be involved – “You don’t know if you don’t ask”. Continue reading Interview: Mark Ravenhill

Interview: Ben Power

*Originally written for Exeunt*

The access to the Stage Door of the National Theatre from the riverfront is currently blocked, meaning that in order to enter you have to walk around the entire building, much of which is a literal building site. You make your way past colourful panels and promises of a bigger, brighter ‘NT Future’ before finally arriving at the east side of Denys Lasdun’s monolith. The National is now in its final stage of development works, and talking to Ben Power about his adaptation of Medea which has just opened in the Olivier, it strikes me that alongside this aesthetic overhaul, the building is also undergoing a somewhat less visible but just as radical shift in its programming.

“The thing that I think is fantastic,” Power enthuses as we watch over a glorious summer day on the Southbank from a fifth-floor window, “has been the emergence in the last three or four years of a generation of directors who can direct big plays on these stages.” Continue reading Interview: Ben Power

Interview: Lucy Ellinson

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

To say Grounded took last year’s Edinburgh Fringe by storm may be a bit of an understatement. For about a week, George Brant’s play about an American pilot who finds herself sat behind a desk manning a drone was the only show anyone spoke of, with five star reviews across the board and a buzz which still hasn’t quite died down. At the heart of it all was Lucy Ellinson who, trapped within a gauze box throughout the entirety of Christopher Haydon’s exquisite production, recounted to us the Pilot’s hilarious and heartbreaking story. Now, before a visit to Washington DC and an upcoming tour, Grounded is back at Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre, the place of its inception.

Did any of the team expect the response to the show? “No, no, not at all,” Ellinson tells me a few hours before press night. “I knew it’d be interesting to people because of the insight it gives you into a very secretive form of warfare, and a very secretive transformation of our armed forces. But I didn’t imagine for a second that it’d be received as well as it was.” Continue reading Interview: Lucy Ellinson

Interview: Katy Stephens

*Originally written for Exeunt*

It may be hard to believe, but Katy Stephens wasn’t particularly into Shakespeare before joining the RSC in 2006. “I thought Shakespeare was for posh people,” she tells me, “It was for academics and intellectuals. I didn’t realise it was truly for me until I joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and started to investigate Shakespeare myself and found these things that really touched me.” Since taking on the roles of Margaret of Anjou and Joan of Arc in the now-historic Histories Cycle, Stephens has been in a “love affair” with the Bard (“Oh, why don’t you just marry Shakespeare?!”, her son says).

She was a member of the two long-ensembles under Michael Boyd (“a hero as far as I’m concerned”), Continue reading Interview: Katy Stephens

Interview: Es Devlin

*Originally written for Exeunt*

Those who have seen American Psycho at the Almeida will distinctly remember a moment when assembled guests at Evelyn’s house strike a series of poses in super-quick succession, giving an impression of a nouveau-riche flickbook being speedily rifled through. After the event, however, it can be difficult to find this image anywhere but in the mind’s eye, as media photographs of the performance only capture a singular moment.

Designer Es Devlin, however, is showing me a doctored picture which truly captures that moving image, layering photographs over the top of one another to give an impression of slick, sexy fluidity. Continue reading Interview: Es Devlin

Interview: Jeremy Kingston

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

Many interviews begin with a bit of history and finish by looking forward to the future. When chatting to critic Jeremy Kingston, however, we decided to start by looking ahead and work our way back. Kingston, who has amassed almost four decades of work in theatre criticism and finished writing for The Times last year after 25 years in the job, isn’t sure about what the future will bring: “I don’t know what the future for print criticism is at all; I’m not quite sure what the future is for newsprint, even. My guess is that weeklies will survive and that listings magazines will carry on. Newspapers will survive, but they’ll do so online.”

We’re chatting over a coffee in The Actor’s Centre, next door to the Tristan Bates Theatre where his new double-bill Oedipus Retold opened this week. Continue reading Interview: Jeremy Kingston

Interview: Alex Waldmann

*Originally written for Exeunt*

Three months ago, when I last chatted to Alex Waldmann, the actor was looking forward to starting a run of All’s Well That Ends Well alongside Hamlet and As You Like It in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, safe in the knowledge that he would be in employment for the near future. Once the company finishes its run in Newcastle in November, however, Waldmann will be joining the hordes of unemployed theatre professionals once again. That’s not to say he won’t be busy, however; a few years ago, he and his wife Amelia Sears set-up SEArED to produce “new writing and neglected classics” (though they “didn’t really know what that meant at the time”), which has in the past taken shows to Edinburgh and produced Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle with Homeland star Rupert Friend. This month they open with a revival of David Storey’s Home at the Arcola Theatre.

They chose the play, Waldmann tells me, because “we were fascinated to see if in our desensitised, violence-exposed, media world it would still be shocking. Continue reading Interview: Alex Waldmann