Earlier this year I was invited to Deakin University in Melbourne to…Continue
Posted on November 6, 2013 at 18:16
In the summer of 1988, as a young directing student at Columbia University, New York, I was sent on a placement at a downtown experimental theatre company I’d never heard of. Swiftly assigned to floor sweeping and other ASM duties, it was impressed on me by everyone I met that I was fortunate to be working for one of the most significant arts groups in the city, and that the best thing that I could do would be to keep my head down, learn what I could, and never get involved in the personal…Continue
Posted on October 1, 2013 at 22:30 — 4 Comments
The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning is going very well up in Edinburgh, but I'm now back in Cardiff for a few days. Usually as a director this involves a strong feeling of separation anxiety as you hand a show over to cast and production team. However, with this production, since every show is live-cast, I can keep an eye on things wherever I am! This is probably a nightmare scenario for the poor actors, in terms of never being free from director's notes, but live-casting is certainly…Continue
Posted on August 13, 2013 at 13:04 — 1 Comment
After a day of rehearsals for The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, a day focussed on the details of props and costumes, ins and outs, we settled down around a laptop at 6pm this evening to hear the verdict being announced in Bradley's case. Ironically in a case about information freedom and state secrets, there are many restrictions on press access to the military courtroom, and in the end it's via the twitter feeds of the heroic journalists who have tracked and championed this case from…Continue
Posted on July 30, 2013 at 22:15 — 2 Comments
The pic here is of a beautiful mural-fountain-staircase-thang commemorating the fact that in 1893 New Zealand was the first country to give the right to vote to all women. When I first visited New Zealand in the early 2000s it had its first female Prime Minister – the Labor party’s Helen Clarke – who (unlike…Continue
Posted on July 7, 2013 at 19:23 — 3 Comments
My job at National Theatre Wales is to build a community of theatre makers and theatre goers who together can create performances that change the way we look at the world. That's what great theatre does, sometimes for a moment and sometimes for a lifetime. And that's what we want to do here in Wales.
I've been a theatre director since my early twenties. The first ever show I directed (excluding embarrassing bossing around of family members and friends) was Trevor Griffith's extraordinary play 'Comedians' when I was a student. I felt that it was a play that talked about a world I understood. I loved it's punky energy as well as its real life relevance. During the interval we ran bingo games for the audience and I also realised that theatre feels best when great writing and performance combine with an audience who are alive and kicking!
I went on to work back in my hometown of Liverpool during the 80s, and I feel that there were many reflections of Wales (where I was born but only lived for a few years) in that time of desolating poverty and creative anger on Merseyside. Then I escaped to New York for a year, to train properly as a theatre director, and ended up staying for almost a decade in a city that stole my heart! I worked with some extraordinary performers and companies there and New York is the place that shaped me as a theatre director.
But it was when I arrived at Contact Theatre in Manchester in 1999 that all the bits of my life came together into an epic adventure - recreating a theatre for a young urban audience, working with artists from all over the world and, it sometimes felt, reinventing theatre on a daily basis.
In Wales, I want to apply the lessons I've learned in Liverpool, New York and Manchester in a whole new environment. I hope that the people I meet here online and throughout Wales will share ideas with me, argue with me, inspire me and challenge me, and that together we will create a new national theatre that is like nothing anyone has seen before!
I'm on twitter @john_ntw