Tag Archives: Interview

An Interview with Campbell Lawrie, Paul Hamlyn Club Coordinator and Drama Class Supervisor at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Hi Campbell Great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

My name is Campbell Lawrie and I am the Paul Hamlyn Club Coordinator and Drama Class Supervisor at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. This is my ninth year with the company but have been working as the Paul Hamlyn Club Coordinator for the last three years.

The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

http://www.citz.co.uk/about/paul_hamlyn_foundation/

So what got you interested in the arts ?
In first year of secondary school my English teacher thought drama and storytelling would help boost my confidence because at the time I was quite shy. Drama wasn’t a course that was offered at my school so my teacher helped me find courses across Ayrshire – where I’m originally from. As soon as I started performing I fell in love with bringing a story to life and witnessing the effect this can have on others. I was hooked after that and knew that I wanted to use theatre as a tool to change people’s lives.

You coordinate the Paul Hamlyn Club at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Can you please tell us more about this initiative and your role?
The Citizens Theatre was very lucky to be one of five venues across Britain to be gifted a sum of money to identify and tackle the barriers that local, disadvantaged people may encounter when trying to access the arts.

Paul Hamlyn Clubs

My role is to coordinate the different strands of work we deliver in order to do this and also to create relationships with those affected. The role is very hands on. I regularly visit groups and their members in the local community and also welcome the individuals we engage with into the theatre and gain their feedback.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is funding the Paul Hamlyn Clubs to “Attract and build relationships with audiences from disadvantaged groups within their local communities.” How has your organisation approached this objective?
The Citizens Theatre was originally approached because of the amount of work we were already carrying out in the local community and across Glasgow. Using the gift we were able to refocus our efforts in attracting the local community to the theatre and there are currently four different strands of work under the Paul Hamlyn Club banner helping to achieve this objective. For those who live in Gorbals area of Glasgow, where the Citizens Theatre company has been based for the past 72 years, we offer heavily subsidised tickets to those who sign up to the Gorbals Card scheme.

http://www.citz.co.uk/about/gorbalscard/

The area is still one of the most heavily deprived areas of Scotland and ensuring our neighbours can attend our shows is our way of thanking those who have supported us over the years. We also run a Deaf Theatre Club working alongside Inkblot Collective to deliver an accessible programme for our Deaf audience and we work with two local schools to help engage a new generation of theatre goers.

http://www.citz.co.uk/Take_part/deaf_theatre_club/

The Paul Hamlyn Citizens is the fourth strand of work. This involves visiting local organisations and charities to discuss the barriers faced in accessing theatre and inviting them to join the PHCitizens to access tickets to shows throughout the year at 50p per ticket. Our PHCitizens ambassadors are always on hand during shows and events to answer any questions or queries those attending through the Paul Hamlyn Club may have.


Have your new audiences chosen to see any specific type of work at your venue?
We have learned that our new audiences are willing to engage with most types of work because they know they have nothing to lose through attending. Our new audiences see coming to the theatre as a social event more than anything and the shows, the free interval ice-creams, the post-show chats etc are all just added extras. There is an amazing atmosphere at Paul Hamlyn events as many stay behind to discuss the shows and this in turn helps create a larger community network. In saying this, comedies and musicals, especially if they are Scottish shows, prove to be more popular than most but Shakespeare, classics and new writing still appeal and have drawn in equally large numbers.

What impact has had this project in your venue had on the larger organisation?
The impact of the project can be seen across the organisation. Every department has been involved in its delivery in one way or another: backstage have provided talks and presentations, FOH ambassadors greet and welcome the wide range of new patrons who come through our doors and one of our box office assistants is even completing Level 3 BSL. Our community work which has been aided through Paul Hamlyn has also been recognised in helping secure some money for our Capital Project. Accessibility is always at the forefront of people’s minds and this has helped emphasise our stance that we are the Citizens Theatre – we exist for and because of Glasgow’s Citizens.

http://www.citz.co.uk/press/release/2.5_million_regeneration_capital_grant_fund_award_marks_new_milestone_in_ci/

In the current funding climate many venues and organisation have very limited budgets. Is it possible to share some of your learning that organisations could implement to support new audiences that doesn’t require large amounts of funding?
Funding obviously plays a huge part in making theatre accessible to all but small things like listening to your local community and sharing your resources/spaces with local organisations or individuals can help strengthen relationships. Finding out what your patrons want you to be and how else they would like to use the building is important in making the patrons feel comfortable in coming through the doors. An extension of this is having dedicated, friendly staff to welcome your new audience. We held an open day event, for example, to promote the theatre and our learning work to local, disadvantaged people.

We held workshops, talks and demonstrations throughout the building while outside a local band played and local organisations and businesses promoted their produce and work. The event cost very little because the local community were very generous in donating nearly everything we required and this in turn strengthened our network and individual relationships. I feel that a lot of the time people prefer putting names and faces to the organisation. Offering unsold tickets to your local contacts is also a good way to engage your new audience.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision In relation to your own project are you aware of any barriers for audiences to access cultural provision.
I think the barriers faced will vary greatly depending on where you are based. The Citizens Theatre is in a highly deprived area with an extremely diverse cultural background meaning we have encountered barriers such as language, affordability and childcare. Some people also feel intimidated entering a building they have only ever walked past or think it isn’t physically accessible. We have heard that a lot of people think theatre is elitist and “not for them”. Transport and programming also come up as common answers to what stops people coming along.
Thanks Campbell, finally some more personal questions. What excites you about the arts? What was the last really great cultural activity event that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

The cast of My Country with director Rufus Norris, gatherer Campbell Lawrie and some of the interviewees from Glasgow.

I genuinely get excited when a theatre show tackles social issues and politics head-on. Any piece of art that encourages debate or triggers a passionate response from its audience while also being entertaining has, in my eyes, achieved its goal. I was very lucky to have worked on the recent production of My Country by National Theatre. My role was to gather information from the Scottish people on their views on Brexit and the political climate following the Brexit vote. Listening to each person’s unique story on how they decided they were going to vote and knowing that snippets of these stories were going to heard by people all over Britain really excited me because the project, like the issue, encouraged debate but this time it was a debate between everyday people – not the media and not the politicians.

http://citizenstheatre.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/my-country-work-in-progress-divides.html

There is, on the other hand, one show that has stuck with me for ten years and remains my favourite piece of theatre – Headlong and Citizens Theatres production of Angels in America in 2007. I have no words to describe how that show made me feel but it did make me want to work at the Citizens Theatre. I guess in that way, that show changed my life.

https://headlong.co.uk/productions/angels-america/

http://www.citz.co.uk

 

An interview with actor and director Gareth Warren

Hi Gareth great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hello! So, I’m an Actor from Cardiff and I trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I’ve performed all over the world – from the West End to the Sydney Opera House to Hong Kong. And lots of other places in between!

So what got you interested in the arts ?

Funnily enough, I never wanted to be and actor when I was younger. I wanted to direct music videos or be a novelist. The same things that made me interested in those things interest me in being an actor. That is, telling stories. I always enjoyed making people laugh at school and playing around – so it just made sense. It just took me a while to realise that!

You are a director and an actor, can you explain how this role operates within the creative team on a production ?

Well, I’m not quite a director at the moment. For our production of Jason & The Argonauts I’m the Associate Director – and playing Jason – I’ll be honest it can be quite confusing to explain! I was part of the original production of Jason & The Argonauts at the Hereford Courtyard in 2013 and the original Research and Development of the play in 2012. I’ve also worked with Mark Williams (the writer) on several other projects and we have developed a very close working relationship – basically we’re massive geeks and love Star Wars and comics! So… for this production I’m going to work closely with Julia (the director) and the production team to support in any way I can. This could just turn out to be making the tea and providing an array of chocolate based biscuits.
Thanks for clearing that up. As you have mentioned you are currently working on a brand new version of the classic legend Jason and the Argonauts. I loved the movie as a child so this new production sounds very exciting! Can you please tell us more about your role in this production?

So I get to play Jason. He’s just like us – a normal guy caught up in an incredible adventure – and surrounded by great hero’s of legend; Hercules, Orpheus and Medea. This show is a nod to many things – Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek and of course, the original movie. Essentially all great, epic quests. It’s been very playful to be a part of. We’ve enjoyed creating the monsters and having sword fights or messing with magic. And I’m lucky enough to be right in the middle of it.

Jason is the captain of the Argo in this production, it sounds a perfect production for teenage boys to see who might be interested in Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. What do you think live theatre can offer to audiences that differs from cinema?

Hopefully the show will appeal to a wide audience. Anyone who has an adventurous spirit! Whilst we have been influenced by science fiction and fantasy, you won’t need to be a fan of the genre to enjoy the show. This is how live theatre can differ from seeing a movie or watching a TV show. It’s all happening right in front of you – there’s no CGI and stunt doubles. It’s all happening right there! I think that can be very exciting for an audience to be part of. Because we’re doing it for you!

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?

That’s an interesting question. I think that in the past there was a feeling that you had to be in London to be able to have access to creative opportunities. More and more I am seeing opportunities arising in Wales. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is here in Wales and is considered one of the, if not THE best Drama School in the UK. The College also connects with young people in harder to reach communities in West Wales and the Rhondda Valleys and potentially further afield. We have the incredible TV studios at Roath Lock, and we’re always hearing about films or TV shows being made in Wales. We have the great work of NTW which seems committed to taking performances and opportunities to every corner of the country. That being said I believe that as a country we can still continue to improve to make art accessible to all members of all communities.

RWCMD in Cardiff, South Wales

http://www.rwcmd.ac.uk

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

I have been working with schools or young people in West Wales and in the Rhondda Valleys so perhaps I’m biased by this, but I would like more funding to be made available to those hard to reach communities. The world can seem quite disjointed to us at the moment. So community engagement through art is what I’d fund. Art can be used to change mentalities or to challenge stereotypes. It can also be used to educate in a creative way. And it should be fun! Everybody likes to have fun right?!
What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

City of the Unexpected

We have such a rich tradition of storytelling and have produced an unbelievable amount of talented writers, actors and singers over the years – and hopefully we will continue to do so. The last really great thing I experienced in the Arts was the Roald Dahl ‘City Of The Unexpected’ event that happened all around Cardiff City Centre. It was truly amazing. It featured so many different creative, quirky and stunning moments. And what I truly loved was that it was different for everyone who saw it – as some of the moments just popped up for a few moments and then were gone. Another thing about it that really excited me was the sheer number of people who attended. It made me realise that we, as artists, can make bigger and braver choices and people will embrace it. If the arts in Wales can continue to do that then I’ll think we’ll have a very bright future.

City of the Unexpected

Many thanks for your time
It’s been an absolute pleasure!