We ended our International Women’s Day dash around London with an interview with the Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris. Here, Rufus talks about the importance of a national institution representing the nation through the people who work there.
[Disclosure: Rufus is an old pal so forgive us some giggles at the start when he tells us who he is 🙂 ]
Helen Keegan and I spent International Women’s Day interviewing women (and some men) in tech (and other sectors!) in London about their experience of gender in the workplace and where we’re at with equality. We’re releasing the audio as podcasts over the next couple of days with minimal editing. We will produce a digest of all the conversations later in the week.
I heard recently about a director having the nasty experience of inviting a journalist into rehearsals and then having an unhelpful (I haven’t read it, it’s paywalled) preview article published just before the show opens.
Reading about it sent me back to look at what I wrote nearly eleven years ago (!) about using blogging in theatre. I was surprised to see what emphasis I put on buzz and PR (that was how the original question had been framed). And it’s that angle that all the marketing people picked up. I went to see John Berry at ENO because (see the comments on the post) they were doing something like this a couple of years later. And a year after this first post, I did a little site about the opening of Avenue Q. It had to be done, and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t read any of the West End theatre blogs or the mainstream journalism that has taken on our blogging form but sticks to traditional writing styles of reporting and criticism.
But I was thinking about more than marketing.
What I was thinking was of a kind of collaborative production journal, where everyone contributes… think “The Making of…” fly-on-the-wall documentary style, only on the web, and released in chunks as they happen, day by day rather than being stitched together after the show has closed.
I think this points to something much more interesting to do – about using these tools as part of the production, as part of the artistic process, to log progress and reflect on thinking and how things are emerging, for the benefit of the team themselves much more than prospective audience members and to create something bigger and longer-lasting and more networked than traditional documentation or archiving. It’s “sources going direct”, cutting out the dependence on news organisations (and their sodding paywalls) and making our own media.
Last night, someone commented on an old video of mine on YouTube. It was from some work I did in 2006 making content for a site supporting a consultation around education for the creative industries. That’s as much as I remember really. Mostly it was talking to “grown-ups” about what “skills are needed by industry” but I also got to go down to Peckham and interview a bunch of young people about their experience of Theatre Peckham (then known as New Peckham Varieties).
The commenter had said “Omg is that John boyega 😭 so happy for him” And so I had a look and yes, about one minute in, there’s a fourteen-year-old future Finn looking surprised to hear that not only had Sir Ian McKellen worked in the West End, but also that he was in the (then) new X-Men movie.
Go on, watch the whole thing. He pops up later too. If you spent any time around theatre when you were young, you’ll recognise yourself and your peers in there somewhere.
It made me realise that I’ve been on YouTube for nearly ten years. 2006 was the year it all got going. At the start of the year it was some experiment that guys at PayPal were doing, I joined in the March (but didn’t fully commit to only posting video there till much later – hence the broken video links in some of my posts!) and by the end of the year it had been bought by Google. And still people were saying video on the web was just a fad 🙂
It might be time for a retrospective!
This from the Bromsgrove Messenger in December 1982, I guess. I do mostly remember this production for the thing the reviewer picked up where we repeated 14 pages of the first act because we got lost. I’m pretty sure I was hamming it up appallingly, and I probably was doing a lot of “face acting” but it seems to have gone down well.
I think it was during rehearsals for this that I had a meeting with the headmaster, who tried to drive any silly ideas about working in theatre out of my little head. “Much better to keep these sorts of things as a hobby.”
Here we all are:
It was like a two-hour roller coaster ride. I ZOMG-d out loud nearly all the way. Way more intimate than I’d expected, and I’m not talking about the lady with the handkerchief. Hard to describe without spoilers – you need to go, it’s only booking til April 19th and go for tickets in the “floor” area near the “stage” (or the posh seats if you can stretch to that) for the full wind in your hair feeling.
Also, please can we not turn the Hippodrome into a casino? – it’s a great venue for this kind of theatre. I only wish we could still see elephants, horses, polar bears and a 100,000 gallon water tank!