Cul­ture vul­ture

As Joanna Read takes up the role of chief ex­ec­u­tive and the­atre di­rec­tor at Guild­ford’s Yvonne Ar­naud, she tells about her plans for the the­atre

Surrey Life - - Culture Vulture - Si­mone Hel­lyer I think re­gional the­atre has an

Where does your love of the­atre come from? See­ing plays and mu­si­cals when I was grow­ing up in Gloucestershire – es­pe­cially at the Chel­tenham Ev­ery­man The­atre, Bris­tol Old Vic and Bris­tol Hip­po­drome. And, I guess, be­ing in school plays when I was younger.

How did you get in to the­atre di­rect­ing? I stud­ied drama at Bris­tol Univer­sity and then I worked on the Lon­don Fringe Fes­ti­val for a bit and then I got a bur­sary from the Young Vic to train at the Sh­effield Cru­cible The­atre.

What does a threatre di­rec­tor do? The most im­por­tant as­pects of the job in­volve choos­ing the work and pro­gram­ming the plays and the reper­toire that’s com­ing on stage. A big part of the job also in­volved as­sess­ing how the au­di­ence responds to that work and see­ing what their tastes are. And, over­all, mak­ing sure that the the­atre is a vi­brant place for peo­ple to visit.

What have been some of your big­gest ca­reer high­lights? In my most re­cent role as prin­ci­pal of The Lon­don Academy of Dra­matic Arts (LAMDA) I com­pleted a suc­cess­ful £28.2mil­lion cap­i­tal pro­gramme to build 10 re­hearsals stu­dios, two the­atres and a TV suite. Plus, I won a The­atri­cal Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion Award for my pro­duc­tion of The Hired Man at Sal­is­bury Play­house. Be­fore I left, we built a new ed­u­ca­tion room and re­hearsal stu­dio at the the­atre too. peo­ple hav­ing the abil­ity and op­por­tu­nity to ac­cess high­qual­ity the­atre wherever they are. I think it’s es­sen­tial for a town like Guild­ford, and Sur­rey as a county, to have good the­atres that peo­ple can en­gage with, so that they don’t al­ways have to travel up to Lon­don.

What are your fu­ture plans for the the­atre? We would like to in­crease our pro­duc­tion work. At the mo­ment we make our own panto at Guild­ford, but I would like to in­crease that to pro­duce more of our own work and tour it too. Guild­ford used to be the place where you would try out your West End shows be­fore you took them into town and I’d like to get that back up again. es­sen­tial role to play in arts and ed­u­ca­tion and I think ev­ery young per­son should have the abil­ity to go to their lo­cal the­atre and see a play, go to a mu­seum or see a concert. I think it’s an es­sen­tial part to our up­bring­ing and I think the arts are es­sen­tial to our well­be­ing and men­tal health. And re­gional the­atre has a re­ally crit­i­cal, key role to play in that.

Do you still en­joy go­ing to see live the­atre? Oh yes! I’m an ab­so­lute fan of live the­atre. I go for the choice of play rather than the the­atre. I came and saw This House at Guild­ford when it was on tour, which was great be­cause the au­di­to­rium was packed and it was a fan­tas­tic pro­duc­tion. I like go­ing to the Young Vic and The Na­tional The­atre too. Just re­cently I saw A Very Very Very Dark Mat­ter at The Bridge The­atre, star­ring Jim Broad­bent – that was a re­ally dark and funny show.

Keep an eye on what’s com­ing up at the Yvonne Ar­naud The­atre by vis­it­ing: yvonne-ar­naud.

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