With roots dating back to the 1930s, Dundee Rep Theatre opened in 1982 and houses the Dundee Rep Ensemble, Scottish Dance Theatre and Rep Creative Learning. Dundee Rep has established a reputation as one of the UK’s foremost theatre companies, performing at home and touring nationally and internationally.
The Scottish powerhouse created the musical Sunshine On Leith, featuring the music of The Proclaimers, with the show touring nationally and now capturing a new audience with the film adaptation.
Jemima Levick joined the Dundee Rep Theatre in 2013 as Artistic Director. Here she talks to Glen Pearce about 2015 and her hopes for 2016 and beyond.
What have been your theatrical highlights (and challenges) of 2015?
I loved Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, and here at Dundee Rep, it was The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil. They were both big pieces of music theatre that had a lot to say about the world as we know it. They were both important, accessible and vibrant, which I think we really could do with more of.
What do you see as the highlights (and challenges) for your organisation in 2016?
We house an incredibly diverse range of work here at the Rep – as the only full-time producing house in the city we have a duty to provide a little bit of ‘something for everyone’. Because of that, we have a brilliant array of productions that we are either producing ourselvesor are coming here as part of the incoming programme. Of course with that diversity brings a certain level of responsibility; to excite our audiences, to challenge new ones to come in the door and to develop those who come a lot, all while balancing the books. When purses are being tightened that can feel a bit nerve wracking. But, looking forward, I’m excited about our collaboration with Noisemaker Little Red and the Wolf that’s currently in development, and Le Gateau Chocolat bringing Black here later in the Spring.
What is your theatrical New Year’s resolution?
Over the past few years, we’ve made a number of organisational changes and upped our game in terms of our engagement with disabled artists and audiences. This year I want to increase the cultural diversity of the work, artists and people we have on stage and off. We are trying to examine and really challenge ourselves about increasing our engagement with BAME audiences in particular. We need to start by asking the right questions, which I think we’re beginning to do…
Excluding funding, if you were Minister for Culture what is the one aspect of the arts sector you’d like to change?
I think we need to insist on keeping diversity at the forefront of our enquiry. When I say that I mean, gender, financial and social challenges that people might face, cultural or ethnic heritage, disability, everything. I think we are emerging from a period when these ‘challenges’ belonged to the participatory department in the arts but it needs to be more central than that. It’s not just about outreach, it’s about placing diversity at the core of our vision and our values.
For more information on Dundee Rep visit www.dundeerep.co.uk