What is your background in theatre? At Walterdale? I have no formal drama training at all, but lots of experience. I was variously actor, producer and director with Beaumont Drama Society in dozens of shows over fifteen years. The highlight was performing in The Mikado as Lord High Executioner at the Winspear. At Walterdale I had roles in The Country Wife, The Taming of the Shrew & Blithe Spirit and I was Assistant Director on Ravenscroft.
Why did you want to direct this show? It’s not only Oscar Wilde’s wittiest play but also his most biting social satire. And, I can resist everything except costume drama. I wanted to fill the stage with beautiful ladies in corsets and dashing gentlemen in tailcoats, and then revel in their epigrammatic interplay.
Why do you think audiences should come and see this show? We have an immensely talented cast, wearing beautiful costumes, performing a theatrical classic on a fantastic set! So it will be gorgeous to look at and scintillating to listen to. It should certainly enthrall anybody who enjoyed “Downton Abbey”, “Sherlock Holmes” or even “Poldark”. But it is not often performed, so this may be your only chance to see it for a long time.
What has been the most fun so far working on the show? The best part for me is watching my actors take written words from a page and breathe life into them, to create really believable characters. As part of that, we had a lot of fun doing a workshop with Barb Mah on manners, deportment and dance. The cast were gradually transformed into Lords and Ladies from 1892.
The most challenging thing? The biggest challenge has been to create a set that can be rapidly changed from Lady Windermere’s rooms to Lord Darlington’s chambers and then back again within the constraints of space, time and budget. Luckily I had the marvellous talents of my designer, builder and painter, who have more than risen to the challenge and created a fabulous evocation of two grand Victorian interiors. Now I’m looking forward to lighting it.
What is your favorite Oscar Wilde quote? “…there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – The Picture of Dorian Gray