Continuing our fascinating series of interviews with Artistic Directors and Chief Executives from across the county,16 for 2016 ventures to the Garden of England and Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre.
The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, re-opened in October 2011 after an extensive rebuild and is one of the country’s leading regional theatres. The Kent venue has recently branched out into producing its own shows alongside the extensive programme of touring shows that visit its two theatre spaces. Theatre Director Mark Everett spoke to Glen Pearce about the last year and the prospect for the year ahead.
What have been your theatrical highlights (and challenges) of 2015?
Here at The Marlowe Theatre, I’ve been impressed withKing Charles III, a fine new piece worthy of its Olivier Award for Best New Play 2015. Meaty, intelligent, thought-provoking; at last a play to get people thinking and debating. I also loved Glyndebourne Opera’s production of Handel’sSaul. This was written simply as a choral piece but was re-worked as an opera in one of the most extraordinary pieces of staging and performance I have seen for years, and not just 2015.It was an excellent use of how the highest levels of theatrical imagination can transform your views of how musical theatre can be done.
One a closer to home level, I was delighted to commission our first new play, A Better Womanby Simon Mendes da Costa, and producing it for a successful three-week run in The Marlowe Studio.
Elsewhere The Impossiblesin the West End was a spectacular illusion show, with acts ranging from a disappearing car to finger magic filmed and projected on to a large screen for all the audience to see. I had forgotten just how exciting big-scale illusions can be. The audience of all ages loved every bit of it. I hope it tours. Peter Pan Goes Wrongat the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, was another highlight. I didn’t think this crazy piece worked in The Marlowe in January but in a smaller theatre, it is a real treat. The prat falling, slapstick and sheer nonsense of the piece kept me laughing right the way through.
There have been some challenges this year, especially managing to keep the theatrical versatility and standard of programming high during a period when the local authority and public sector environment as a whole is going through a period of substantial change. We also need to keep up to date with the fast-changing IT and marketing environments where theatre is affected.
What do you see as the highlights (and challenges) for your organisation in 2016?
Some of the highlights of our 2016 season arevisits byThe Bodyguard, a favourite of mine since it first played in London, an all-time cracking show. Hairspraywhich I now wonder how I missed bringing this to the old Marlowe for so many years!,The James Playsproduced to enormous acclaim by the National Theatre of Scotland and genuinely “event” theatre,Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, produced by Music and Lyrics, which is a theatre producing consortium that The Marlowe belongs to and, our next community production (Stacked), not least because it will be in the main house – a first.
The challenges of 2015 will continue into 2016 – managing to keep the theatrical versatility and standard of programming high during a period when the local authority and public sector environment as a whole is going through a period of substantial change, working within our budget will be even more challenging than usual.
What is your theatrical New Year’s resolution?
To refuse to allow myself being pressured into not giving myself enough time to think through problems before finding solutions.
Excluding funding, if you were Minister for Culture what is the one aspect of the arts sector you’d like to change?
The over-complication of understanding the funding and legal environment through the use of fashionable language and weasel words.
To discover more about The Marlowe Theatre visit www.marlowetheatre.com