Transcribed for the hard of hearing. Audio available here.
Terri Paddock: Hello and welcome to In House, the Stagedoor podcast that explores the ins and outs of London’s most exciting and innovative theatres. My name is Terri Paddock, and this week I’m at the New Diorama theatre where I am joined by the artistic director David Byrne. David, welcome!
David Byrne: Thank you so much for having me.
TP: Thank you for having me! We are sat in the dressing room at the theatre, where we are not going to be disturbed I am promised but I do get my experience of a little bit of the actor’s life here which is great. Let’s start actually by talking a little more about this building that we are sat in for the people the benefit of people who might not have been to the New Diorama before. Can you describe where we are, first of all beyond the walls of the buildings.
DB: Yes, so, New Diorama as you’d expect from name is a relatively new building although we’ve been here almost 10 years now so I wonder if we’ll eventually have to change the name.
TP: So you were founded in 2010?
DB: Yes 2010, we opened I think May 2010, which simultaneously feels like it’s gone very quickly and also I can’t remember a time before I was working here! We’re based on a relatively glass and steel campus which has a host of other businesses and charitable organisations on. Everything from Facebook, their big HQ is here, we’ve got arts organisations like Definitely Theatre, a lot of design organisations, marketing organisations, the medical council is based on this campus, and I always think it depends on which way you approach the theatre as to what impression you get of the building. So we’re surrounded by tube stations, we’re in zone 1, so we’re really well connected.
TP: Yes, the closest being Great Portland Street.
DB: Great Portland Street, and Warren Street, and Euston Square, and Regent’s Park.
TP: Very well served transport wise!
DB: Yes. If you get off of at Regent’s Park, and you come through the Regents Park way and the Fitzrovia sort of area I think you think oh, this is an incredibly posh and well heeled part of London. Whereas if you come off Euston Square we’ve got the West Euston Estate behind us, which is one of the biggest council estates in the whole country, which is in the top 10% of various deprivation indexes. There is a road you can cross between the Regent’s Park Estate and Regent’s Park where your life expectancy goes up 10 years.
TP: Wow, you want to be on the right side of that road don’t you?
DB: Yes you do, I cross it most days when I have a little walk around in the afternoon into the park, and I always think I’m going to be however much older than I would be, and 10 years long time. If you come through Warren Street we’ve got Tottenham Court Road which is obviously sort of big shopping, and sort of into the West End and quite touristy and quite Central London, so we’re really on an absolute crossroads of lots of different things and then obviously you’ve got Euston, which is Kings Cross and travel out and around the rest of the country, and you get a lot of people coming from outside of London, or tourists when they come to London that tends to be the drop off point that they sort of start there. So really I think the organisation is placed geographically at those crossroads, and all of those different communities we serve in some sort of way. So we are as building quite a modern looking building.
TP: Yes, because you come into the campus and as you’ve described it is like this incredibly modern and beautifully built, very clean office space, and then you see the theatre and it’s shiny and beautiful and gorgeous.
DB: Yes, I think it always surprises people how scruffy I look! When you come and find an artistic director in an un-ironed shirt and trainers. So we’ve got big glass frontage, which is nice, we’ve got a cafe which is open from 7 in the morning through to when we close at night. So in the morning the cafe is full of business people, locals, mother’s coming to have coffee mornings or people having their sort of business meetings, and then around about 6 o’clock you slowly start to see the change. You start to see the change about 10 o’clock when artists start turning up to come and do rehearsals here, and then between 6 and 6:30 there’s a bit of a breath where everything quiets down for a bit, and then all of a sudden the evening crowd starts arriving. So there’s actually a few clubs on the Campus as well, Union Bar at the weekends and sort of Friday night becomes a nightclub til about 3 in the morning, and we have obviously audiences you come every single night, who travel here to come and see shows so actually it depends which time of the day you visit as to what your impression of the Campus is. So if you’re here during the day and you have all the Facebook people on their scooters and business people and designers sort of running around, or if you come in the night, well it depends what time of night, sort of drunk people stupor-ing, and sort of theatre audiences sitting out on the grass drinking after show, yeah, it really sort of changes.
TP: I love that juxtaposition, it’s fantastic. So then let’s talk about the building itself, the facilities beyond that gorgeous glass Facade that you’ve described, what is here on your site?
DB: So we have a flexible theatre space which tends to be about 80 seats, which has a gorgeous height to it, so our rig is about four and a half metres in the air which is great, and it’s a really beautiful black box space. We’re really pleased with that because a lot of small theatres tend to either be really long and wide stages, or really thin and narrow, so we wanted a stage that felt like you could adapt it as much as possible. The seating bank sort of folds away like in an American High School horror film and you can coordinate the seating however you like, so we’ve had stuff in the round, stuff in thrust, we’ve had stuff facing out of the external doors, any possibility you can think of we can achieve.
TP: And the capacity of that space is?
DB: It depends on the flexibility, actually you change the flexibility, you can go up. We have gone up to about 120. I hope our fire officer isn’t listening! But we’ve gone up to you larger numbers when you flex around a little bit, and you can have loose seating in. And then obviously smaller numbers for those really intimate shows where you want it to be really tense and immediate. A show that comes to mind, we did a show called The Gap in the Light last year, and actually we did a show early this year which had a slightly bigger capacity called A Girl in School Uniform (Walks Into a Bar) where they theatre space is in a complete complete blackout, so there’s no light at all. We went around covering every single small LED on the fluorescent bulbs to cover it, so you can plunge people into darkness. And some of those shows have had smaller audiences in order to really get the feeling of space and things around you, because in a smaller space you’ve got the opportunity where you can reduce that audience size without taking a huge financial risk. We’ve got a beautiful Green Room, which has just been done up which is really nice. A company that was doing up a building close by wanted to come and do some charitable work so they’ve done up our Green Room, and gave this a new carpet, and did our Office which is really nice. We’ve got a garden which gives you sort of access to the back, which means you can escape without going through the foyer, which sometimes is quite convenient! And we built our garden studio out there which is good for rehearsals for our supported artists, and meetings, and clubs and sort of activities, which we do relatively regularly. And then we have our theatre office upstairs, where we all work so there’s one central office where we all sit and sort of plot and sort of plan, and we’ve got some backstage toilets and tech store and public toilets and yeah, that’s it!
TP: As I’ve mentioned it is a beautiful building, such incredible facilities for an off West End Theatre.
DB: It feels like a bigger Theatre but shrunk down because no one would normally build an 80 seat studio theatre as a dedicated space sort of on its own, so it does feel kind of strange to have that facility and that walk around and that wrap around a building around such a small, intimate, studio space. We feel very lucky to have it, and we’re very fond of it.
TP: I can appreciate why, and that leads me conveniently on to another question which I’m going to have you explain which is that not many people would build something like this around an 80 seater space, but you have benefited from something called a section 106 agreement. Can you explain what a section 106 agreement is?
DB: So a section 106 agreement is when a developer, or a council, come along and want to redevelop an area but in doing so they would knock down buildings that are of community benefit and of community use, like a community centre or a church or a theatre. And in order to get planning permission they have to replace that facility like for like, so this area here where Regent’s Place was, there was an old crown state building where Diorama Arts who are our sister charity I suppose, we’re not really related to them but we we share a name and some board members, they had a lot of rehearsal spaces and a theatre space and the plan was they were going to build a theatre and rehearsal spaces back again, and the theatre was going to open first with the rehearsal spaces following immediately afterwards. But because of the financial slowdown that you may have read about, the theatre space was going to come online years before the rehearsal space was, and Diorama Arts at the time were mostly a business that rented out rehearsal space, so they didn’t want just the theatre on its own. So they looked for people who wanted to run that theatre space and had a real vision as to what that could be, and what place that could serve in the wider ecology. So that’s how we came to run this building in the ethos that it’s run now.
TP: So we’re going to come back to the ethos, but just before we move on from the section 106 agreement, can you tell me what would the value of a building like this be, do you have any idea?
DB: It will be very expensive. I mean the value of the building would I think be, in rental terms I think it would be roughly, I mean it’d be well over a million. It’s in a really prime location near Regent’s Park. I mean to give you an idea the garden studio we built out the back we built for about £9,000, we got a 5 grand grant from the Theatre Trust, which was very generous of them, and its slightly bigger than one of the micro flats that they’re looking at buying in central London. And the Builder who helped put it up said if we’re going to convert it into a flat and sell it, he thinks we can get £400,000 to £500,000 for it, because of the location of where we are! So the theatre itself I imagine is worth several million. We pay a reduced rent, we still pay rental which is around 30,000 a year on the building, and that’s sort of capped a certain amount below the market rate, so even still it’s not a cheap building or something that you get for free. British land, who built the building and were dealing with the section 106, are brilliant to work with and have been very fierce partners throughout that. But yeah, it’d be very expensive.
TP: So British land built the building, did they then fit it out for you?
DB: Partly. So we got an empty shell of a building, so all the rig, and all the lights we had to find, all the office equipment, we did get some retractable seating and we did get I think some cafe tables I think as part of the last minute negotiations. And there were a few things as part of building but they hadn’t thought of which we had to step in and help them overcome, because they hadn’t built a theatre before at that point. For example, the only way to access the public toilet originally was going to be by crossing the stage, which would have been a nightmare, so they took parts of other buildings to give us corridors so you can get backwards and forwards, and they were very good at getting up to fire regulations at the last minute and doing all of that stuff.
TP: I dwelt on this because it feels to me like I’m suddenly hearing section 106 all over the place, so section 106 plays into the Kings Head Theatre’s new developments in Islington, as well as Southwark Playhouse’s new plans in Elephant and Castle. So I’m wondering if you have a view on this, is section 106 dramatically changing the landscape of off West End Theatre, and is that a good thing or a bad thing?
DB: I think it really depends on how it’s done, that’s the point. I think there are some really amazing section 106 theatres, I think is Streatham Theatre 106 as well? There are some really exciting developments where communities are getting theatres, and I think community theatre is an amazing thing for a community to have, it’s somewhere where everybody can come together, it’s somewhere people can come and be creative and be inspired in a world where everything is coming homogenous. You know I can go to Manchester and get the same sandwich that I have for lunch here, everyone’s wearing the same clothes, and there’s the same shops and the cinemas are showing the same films, actually the thing that really defines us is our cultural institutions. And I’ll look at the community here and 50 years ago they all would have gone to church, and there would have been more sense of togetherness, whereas now the children don’t go to the same schools, they’re not socialising in the same way, they’re not going to the same places on holiday, they are only coming together through the theatre and the cultural institutions locally that they visit. So actually 106 is brilliant if it’s going to bring more communities really high-quality cultural institutions, as long as it is delivered in a way that is best for those institutions and is enacted in a way by those councils to make those operations really viable. There’s been a few examples where there have been restrictions put on 106 buildings where they have to be dually run and they had to be shared with other organisations and they make it almost, you know, it’s stops the ongoing concern of it actually functioning and working. But for example the Kings Head I think is a really exciting development and I can’t wait to see that finished building and to see how they do. I think it’s more about the sort of energy and the ideas behind the building, rather than bricks and mortar itself
TP: Fantastic, because now we come back to the ethos, because a theatre has to be more than the building, the structure, and what you’ve developed here is something really unique. You bill yourself as the first ever companies theatre, theatre exclusively dedicated to the development of emerging theatre ensembles.
TP: Explain that to me, what does that mean?
DB: So I had my own Theatre Company when I graduated University and still work with a lot of that ensemble –
TP: And which company is that?
DB: Our in house company, so we don’t have a name anymore, we’ve sort of moved on! It’s now sort of just in house work here, though we’re going to have to rebrand ourselves when I leave, so someone else can come in and take that on –
TP: When you leave? You’ve just scared me by saying that, are you leaving?
DB: Err, not imminently, not before the end of this interview anyway! But eventually there will come a time. But I noticed when I moved to London there’s a lot of new writing theatres, in fact a lot of the off West End theatres are new writing theatres or they are theatres that are expressly experimental, and work is done under an experimental banner, but there’s nowhere for a company to go and be properly developed and looked after. So when I was starting out our company used to pretend to be from the east of England to get support, they used to have this wonderful scheme called ‘Escalator’ which used to take work to Edinburgh and used to give companies that level of support, so everything you need, all that business stuff, like how do you cashflow your company, how do you budget, how do you register as a limited company, how do you register as a charity, so all all that advice was coming from outside of London And all the performance opportunities and all the money we needed to make that work was not readily available for us on a scale at all. So when this opportunity came up I thought well I know exactly what there’s a gap in the market for: somewhere that can take a theatre company, that can look after them after a number of years, that can really help them develop, can help them on stage really get that quality right, making their work on stage sustainable, but making it affordable so they can pay themselves, they can pay themselves between productions to do all the work that that needs, that can give them the contacts they need to take that work on, and support themselves, that can help them get the funding that needs to make that work exciting, and all the technical support as well as the organisational support, so all the business stuff you need to make any company really viable and workable. The sort of support that new businesses in other sectors get but actually theatre companies really don’t have, or if they want to get that training it’s really expensive and just out of their reach. So the plan was that we’d take theatre companies from right at the beginning, so right from graduate level, sometimes before that, and we would look after them, we’d build them up, build an audience for them and then say goodbye and send them to bigger institutions and bigger opportunities 4 or 5 or 6 years down the line. So we’re supporting a company, a whole company, in the way that somewhere like the Bush or the Finborough might support a writer.
TP: And also in the phrase that I just read it’s not just companies but ensembles, which seems a distinction to me. So can you clarify what you think that distinction is?
DB: Some companies, it depends how the company is led and is put together, so some companies are a creative team where the actors change every time, some companies are the actors. So they are an ensemble that work together year after year. We said recently that we’re probably the closest thing in London to a Rep Theatre, because audiences come back year after year and they see the same actors in different roles. It’s one of those places where you can see the work of that company develop, and it’s often the same people on stage. And the joy of an ensemble is that you get to see a full actors range and learn how they perform, you get to see the nuances and development over time, and audiences really love that. It’s amazing how much retention of audience there is between company to company. So there are differences, because each company works in a slightly different way, but actually some of our most popular companies are very much those ensemble companies who met who are training at places like LeCoq or on the Central Collaborative Devised Course, and it is the actors and performers themselves who are the leading that company forward. And there are some companies that are led more by directors or other creatives who come together and have a very set style and the actors come into that process, rather than are the Organic beginning to it, if that makes sense.
TP: It does. You talked also about a focus on early career companies, but I think also you work with what we might call middle career companies And is there a challenge, I mean, if you’ve been doing it for a while you can still have been doing it for a while and maybe not have acquired all those skills that allow you to get to the next level, is that something that you identified?
DB: Absolutely. And what’s interesting is that as reputationally we’ve grown some of the early career companies have become mid-career companies. That they’ve all grown up a bit, and they’re having regular money come in, and they’re paying themselves and doing it most of the year round and touring internationally and touring all across the country and doing really well, but we are still their home, and their base. And then there are companies who really like the way we work, and have come in maybe later on. So a company like Definitely Theatre I think are a really good example, who have been going for quite a long time, but actually they wanted a home and somewhere they could regularly perform who really loved their artistic work, and really wanted to go the extra mile and make that space accessible for them and for their audiences. So they’re definitely a middle career company, they’ve been going a long time and they’re very very good at what they do, but there’s definitely space here for them as well. They are still taking big artistic risks, they’re still trying out really exciting new ideas. So that is absolutely still part of what we’d called that emerging energy. I think people always say how do you define emerging, and I think the problem is that emerging has become a word with negative connotations because a lot of people use it as an excuse not to give people anything. So not to give them any money, not to give them any space, not to really give them any opportunities, or resources, or to fob them off with the scraps that are available because they’re emerging so they just need something small. Whereas actually companies that are just starting out, and you’ll know particularly that catalytic energy you need to get a new venture and new idea off the ground, actually it needs more than when you’re up and going. And I think in London you can absolutely define emerging by looking at its flipside, you know, those stagnant companies. Companies that do the same thing over and over and over again. Those companies that are on their 15th profit share production And aren’t able to reinvest that much into improving the quality or the ambition or the scale of that work. We’re looking for those companies that want to do better, who are looking 2, 3 years down the line of what could we achieve, who every time they come and talk to me about an idea it is better than the last idea, it is more ambitious, the scope of it is more breathtaking. They really want to try and do something spectacular, to surprise those audiences who are coming back. And as long as a company has that sort of energy, that’s the sort of company that we want to support and we want to be behind.
TP: Fantastic. So rewinding to 2010 when you first opened, how many companies did you start with?
DB: I think we started with probably about 10 or 15 companies, that I already knew from being a director, who we were really inspired by and who were doing some really great work. So we didn’t have everybody we needed, I think we opened with a third of the company’s we were working with we were really excited about.
TP: Can you name some of those?
DB: Yeah, part of our first season, RashDash were part of a first season with our first 2 shows. And since then they’ve been everywhere from the National, they’re on tour at the moment with their Three Sisters which is just about to come to London at The Yard, which has been co-commissioned By Bristol Old Vic and everybody, and they’ve just gone from success to success, and I’m incredibly excited to see that show. I’ve heard some amazing, amazing things. So companies like that, and also some of the companies that we’re working with now. So Rhum and Clay were part of our family very early on, and they’ve gone from being fresh LeCoq graduates to they’ve just done their first big International British Council tour, which is really exciting. They’ve been Associates at the Watermill And they’ve gone on and really taken over that scene, they’re one of the regulars on the touring circuit now. And I think over the first three years it was about building up that family of companies. We didn’t have any money when we started out, so it was about going out to find those companies who we knew we could get really excited about, who were willing to buy into that mission of what we were doing. I remember the first year that I was artistic director we went up to the Edinburgh festival and we took 6 people up, including board members and I gave each of them a stack of my business cards and said here are the target people that we’re going after, here are the top 10 companies that we’re really excited about and we want to make a case to and convince, and if you meet anyone give them my card and get them in touch. And I remember meeting Kate Stanley From Idle Motion, who were an associate company here for a long time, and meeting her outside her venue, at the Zoo Roxy I think it was, and I said hello I’m David Byrne I’m from New Diorama Theatre, and she reached into her lanyard and pulled out about five of my business cards! I think she’s got more of my business cards now than I do. But it was about going out and hunting those companies it wasn’t about waiting to see what came through the post. Because I think no one was doing what we were doing back then, it was about trying to convince them and sell them that mission early on, and sort of saying this is what we think is possible. We don’t have much resource at the moment, but if you come on board you can make this happen, and this can be a home for you and this is what we think this could become. What is great about working with artists is that they have a great propensity for buying into Vision and excitement in that way.
TP: Well that is a huge shared vision to bring on so many people, as part of something really pioneering. So you started with 10, how many companies have you worked with since 2010?
DB: So in the last year we’ve supported just over 70 companies, through a variety of different schemes and programmes we’re working with.
TP: Just in the past year?
DB: Just in the past year.
TP: So over the past eight years?
DB: Over the past 8 years I haven’t done the maths. But a lot of the companies return year after year. But in the last year for example we’re doing a diversity rehearsal room project, so it’s for ethnically diverse led work, and they can come get some free rehearsal space. So we gave away 52 weeks of free rehearsal space, because we found that a lot of black or asian led companies didn’t have the contacts or networks to get lots of free rehearsal space, you know they didn’t have my dad runs Jerwood or similar. So we had a huge number of companies come through that. We write checks for companies to go to the National Student Drama Festival, for students who are from a poorer background, and if you write to us we will write you a check, which is only £100 but we’ve had a lot of companies come through that. And then we supported two companies with much more money to actually go to the festival once they were selected. We loan money out to companies, there’s a lot of companies who we are supporting and working with through that program, and there’s about 30 or 40 companies who performed as part of our main program on stage.
TP: Amazing. And so from this ethos, from this show vision, from 2010 fast forward to I think it was 2016 when you launched your first umbrella artist development program. So how was that different from just the ethos of the theatre you’ve already described?
DB: We were doing a lot of it already. But we were doing it quite secretly. We found really early on that a lot of our companies were being picked up by really big buildings, and really big organisations around the country, and they were being made associates in these multi-million-pound organisations, which was great and gave them a real regional touring route, and more investment and money in their work. However they were still coming to us to ask for the things they were slightly embarrassed, or worried about talking to other people about, like cash flow problems, like you know we’ve got this great tour booked, and we’ve got all the money in place, except we’re 10 grand down until the end of the tour and we don’t know where we’re going to get it from, and we don’t know who to talk to about this. And I think they thought that a lot of the time they were doing something wrong, and they’ve f***** it up somehow, and they couldn’t make it work. And we started to address problems like that which tended to be more business problems privately, to see whether or not it would work. And as word got around internally that we were doing it the demand picked up for those sort of opportunities, for us to do days on fundraising, for us to be sharing our fundraising applications with all of artists, you know, stuff that we weren’t necessarily publicising. I think we were probably doing a lot of it for about 2 years before we decided actually, I think it’s time we started talking about it.
TP: And formalising it, and really nailing your colours to the mast?
DB: Yes, and saying this is what we do and this is what we can offer, and there were two reasons for that. First of all we wanted other organisations to be able to learn from the ideas that we had. So the first artist foundation program was just a basic, this is what we do and this is how it works. We then commissioned a report from Eleanor Turney, who we run Incoming festival with, she interviewed all our artists without us present, it was like having a social worker, o talk about how well things were working and what they thought about things. And second programme, the sort of 2.0 version, came accompanied with artist evaluation on how well it worked, what was great about it, what could be improved, where we were going right, where we were going wrong, which we published as well. So people outside this theatre around the country could learn from those ideas and those innovations that are in there. I think it’s our job as a small organisation and an organisation that isn’t core Arts Council funded, to do radical things. I think it’s our responsibility to do things other people might not dare to do, or might not have the tenacity to go after. I think if we can prove it works then people might take on those ideas with more confidence. So actually a lot of the ideas that we’ve pioneered and a lot of the spirit we’ve pioneered Has been replicated in other organisations, in fact just last week a company in Hull called Middle Child which has just become an NPO for the first time have launched a big artist development program, which has credited our artist development program as the main inspiration for going to do that, and being the guiding light for how they might support artists in a variety of different ways, and it’s an excellent program.
TP: So you’re happy with that, you buy into the imitation is flattery, you’re happy that other people can take up these ideas?
DB: Oh it’s the very point of it, is the idea that artists are better supported around the country and are better supported by the theatres they are performing at, and that have been tasked with the funds and responsibilities to look after them.
TP: And the company you’ve just mentioned, what is their name again?
DB: Middle Child.
TP: So Middle Child, as you’ve just mentioned, is a National Portfolio Organisation with the Arts Council but you art not?
DB: We are not, no.
TP: And that must be a conscious choice of yours, not to be?
DB: Yes, I mean a few years ago there were big conversations about going in at a certain level, a few years ago there was a desire to have some of the smaller theatres as part of it and we decided that that wasn’t a good time to apply and make a case, and we’ve ummed and ahhed and we’ve thought about it, I mean I have very mixed feelings about it, both ways, I like the fact that we’re outside of that portfolio, mostly because, I mean i love a lot of the companies in the portfolio, a lot of the companies we’ve supported are part of it, but actually for a small organisation we didn’t know 4 years ago we would be at this point. I like the flexibility and the freedom that you have to explore things that come along that really excite you, and to go down avenues that might be a bit more unexpected. Whereas there is, quite rightly, because it’s public money and taxpayers money, that when you’re part of that there is more of a rigidity, more reporting, there is a greater buy-in, and in this round we did look and put together some thoughts on what we’d look like as a portfolio organisation, and that wouldn’t have necessarily been for me as chief exec, I think there would have had to have been someone else who would have the right skills and desire and hunger for that sort or relationship.
TP: So how do you fund the New Diorama’s work?
DB: Well actually the art council are very generous to us, we get more money than a lot of the small theatre NPOs from arts council England. They are, especially in London, not only very supportive of us but also very brave, in some of the stuff they fund. They’re definitely our boldest and most exciting funder, and we’ve got a great relationship with them. We’ve got some trusts and foundations who support some really high quality work, and who have been with us for quite a long time and are really excited by the work they’re seeing on stage and where they’re seeing that develop. We’ve got some business sponsors, which is incredible, so this season we’ve got ASOS, you can imagine looking at me I’m very excited about ASOS! Sophie our exec producer did the ASOS sponsorship, we’ve got Santander who have been a sponsor for us pretty much since we opened, we had a really good link through one of our board members, that made that happen and they’ve been a really brilliant supporter and come and see a lot of the work and do events and stuff here and that’s been great. Mandy.com, who were castingcall pro and stage job pro and that whole family have come on board to help with our artist development program this year.
TP: A great technology partner.
DB: Really great technology partner, and they have been wonderful to work with. It’s been a real eye opener actually looking around their site and the amount of opportunity that’s there, and the resource that that offers, its quite staggering. And they’ve built us things like application portals and all sorts of stuff.
TP: So you’ve jumped to the thing I wanted to come back to which is the artist development program. So the first one you announced was in 2016, but you’ve recently announced for the end of 2017 for this year a much more extensive program with a platform that Mandy has built for you. So tell us what’s happening with the artist development program now, how has it expanded?
DB: So this year we’ve added in some bigger partnerships, which are great, I mean the Mandy partnership is wonderful. But for us it’s about trying to find partnerships that help us tackle those bigger opportunities. So we’ve partnered up with Green Rooms, who are an Arts hotel in Wood Green.
TP: I love this.
DB: Have you been there?
TP: No, I want to go!
DB: It’s amazing!
TP: But first, explain what the partnership allows.
DB: So one of the problems that we had a lot of the companies we support come from outside of London, because we’re one of the few theatres that’s really affordable for the small companies to come to. But they were really struggling when it came to have places to stay, because it’s very expensive to stay in London, a hotel room in London is phenomenally expensive. So we’ve had this idea in our head for a while of finding a 15 pound bed, that if we could link the price of a bed for the night to a price for a ticket to a show that’d be perfect. So all you need to do it sell one ticket and you’ve got a bed for the night. So we were looking round for a while, and somebody said…
TP: It’s funny, you’d think oh well, you know, people who work around the theatre, they can just put people up, but we don’t have spare rooms most of us.
DB: No, we are in someone’s spare room already! So it’s a struggle. So someone said have you heard of Nick Hardwright, who opened Green Rooms Hotel, he’s sort of a social entrepreneur, and we went to the hotel and it’s beautiful, and they’ve been really keen to partner up with theatres and to partner up with arts organisations who are trying to support artists who are just starting out, so they’ve given us a large allocation of free rooms and a blanket offer that you can stay there for 15 pounds a night if you’re being support by NDT and our artists development program. So that’s been amazing.
TP: And if you live in London, can you take advantage of that?
DB: Yes, yes, I sort of really want to go and stay there, it’s an incredibly zen space, the rooms are very simple but yet very artistic, the furniture is beautiful. We’ve just had a company down from Bristol who were like ‘the furniture was amazing’, it’s a beautiful space to stay.
TP: I love it too because, if you look at the commercial West End, it’s a very common thing to have a hotel partner for shows that are bringing over American artists or whatever, Broadway transfers, but this is the first time it’s gone for fringe theatre I believe, is that right?
DB: Yeah, I think we’re the first fringe theatre to have a hotel partner! But you look at those posters and you think why can’t we do that?
TP: Why not? And so, is an airline partner next?
DB: Well, you laugh…
TP: I’m not laughing, I’m not laughing!
DB: We have looked, we have looked, we have looked to see, we’re transferring 4 shows to New York over the next 2 years so we’re already talking to people about what that might look like and how that might work, and what people would want in return for that and how much free air-mile we might get out of it. So we are seeing if that would work. I think the really big one for this season is the partnership with Underbelly.
TP: So yes, let’s talk about that.
DB: Because every time we talk to our artists and we say ‘well what do you want’ they always say an Edinburgh venue, and we’ve looked at starting an Edinburgh venue but there are people who do it so well, I mean I’ve been supported by Pleasance my whole career, and they do it beautifully in Edinburgh, and you look at that and think I don’t think we could do that any better. So I think there are already spaces there, but it’s just so expensive. So when Underbelly approached us and said we really want to start supporting ensemble companies and you guys do ensemble companies really well, what could we do together, what could we do together, we were really excited about the possibility of setting up a fund that helps some of those more ambitious shows get to the fringe. Because increasingly, I’m not sure if you go to Edinburgh, but it’s a lot of solo shows, because it’s getting so expensive to be ambitious. So we wanted to find a way of getting resource and marketing and press firepower to those ensemble companies to really help them make a splash, and we’ve got 3 really great companies we’ve chosen for this first year.
TP: Ok before you tell me who those companies are, what do they get as part of this?
DB: They get, this year, 3 grand in cash to help them get up to the festival, they’ve got an extra thousand pounds because the Arts Council have helped us with some of the London based stuff so they’ve got another thousand pounds so they can hire rehearsal space, or they can pay themselves a little bit more, or they can buy stuff they need. They get all their press done for them, so Borkowski who do our press and PR here, who are the wizards of press, I mean they are amazing, are going to not only do the whole program but they’re individually the press company for those companies, so they will do all of that, so editorial and getting all their reviewers in. They get 6 or 7 hours a day of flyerer time, so they’ll get people going out and flyering for them.
TP: Which is so important in Edinburgh.
DB: It is important, and really really great. They’re getting some really brilliant slots at Underbelly, all the slots are in their main Cowgate space, all at really prime times in really great venues. They’re getting all their production imagery and photography and stuff done for them for free for them, we’ve had our designer work on them and they look absolutely fantastic and really brilliant, and we’re buying access performances for all of the shows so they’re going to get all of their work captioned, so they can attract a wide an audience as possible.
TP: I didn’t even realise that productions at Edinburgh had access performances, that’s amazing.
DB: It’s becoming more common, we’ve always done it for our shows, and last year we brought caption shows for every NDT supported company that went up, and they’re incredibly well attended, so we thought well, we’re going to continue with our commitment here and try and spread that up to the festival to make that happen.
TP: And what about accommodation in Edinburgh, have you got a Green Rooms in Edinburgh?
DB: We don’t, we tried to find one, but the problem is Edinburgh accommodation is the only time people make money in Edinburgh all year round, however using our contacts and our networks and Underbelly’s networks, they found really affordable and nice accommodation which is great. And what normally scuppers companies is having that money upfront, so actually the 3 or 4 thousand pounds up front means they can put down their deposits. The fact that they’ve got a better venue deal than you’d traditionally get from one of the big 4 venues means that at the end of the festival they’ll get a better payout than they normally would, and with the extra marketing and press that box office will be more substantial, so actually it just makes the festival possible. We’ve always said here there is a difference between supporting companies, so they learn something, and just giving them everything. So what we’ve tried to calculate is that bite point, between giving them everything that will make it possible and make it achievable, and giving them everything so that they don’t really learn anything. We wanted them to come out of the festival with some money, with the experience of having done it, with some contacts, and the ability that actually if they wanted to now they’ve got the tools they could go back next year under their own steam and they can keep building that audience and that reputation.
TP: So this partnership with Underbelly is called the Untapped Award, so it’s presented by Underbelly and New Diorama, and the first three beneficiaries of the Untapped Award are?
DB: Are Breach Theatre, with a show called ‘It’s True, It’s True, It’s True’, which is based on some 16th or 17th Century, I’ve now forgotten, it’s a rape trial transcript of a female painter who was attacked and raped by a male painter and she accused him in court, and she was then tortured by the court to prove her testimony was real. And then the painter, the male painter, was exiled and brought back by the Pope after 1 day, and for the rest of her career she painted very very violent depictions of men being attacked. So that’s by a company called Breach Theatre, who are one of our supported companies here, so we already had a relationship with them. They are an incredible theatre company, they won a Fringe First for their last Edinburgh show, which was called ‘Tank’, which was about a 1976 experiment to see if we could teach dolphins to talk. Their first show The Beanfield won the total theatre award for sort of best emerging company, and we think that’s going to be really exciting, it’s 3 women performers on stage reenacting the court transcripts, but also with a lot of other theatre, sort of, involved with that.
TP: Sounds fantastic.
DB: We’ve got a company called Nouveau Riche, with a show called Queens of Sheba, which is based on a true story of 4 black women who were refused entry to a nightclub. It is probably the best 15 minute pitch I’ve ever seen, we were all blown away by it, it was so funny, so witty, the physical comedy of it was amazing, it really packs a punch as well, and we’re really excited about that. Again, all females on stage. And then the final company is This Egg, with a show called Dressed, which is based on a true story of one of the company being attacked and sexually assaulted at gunpoint, and the piece that we saw, as you can imagine, was incredibly affecting. And the actor now makes all their own clothes, so it’s sort of an odd combination of styles, so they’re going to be making the clothes and you can see the clothes that they sort of make, and this is from a company that have been on our radar for a long time, had a big Edinburgh success last year with Me and My Bee, which was a family show, so this is very different. And again, it’s an entirely female stage company, so we have a completely female line-up, which has been completely accidental, we didn’t aim to set out for that. But I think it makes a really powerful statement in a year where I think a lot of those female stories are being heard for the first time, and they’re all I think completely different perspectives and completely different tones and styles, on an issue I think everyone is talking about and trying to sort of cement, so I’m really excited to really see them take on the Fringe, I think we’ve got an excellent line-up.
TP: On the female front, you also run a female leadership program, is that right?
DB: We do!
TP: Tell me a little bit about that.
DB: Something we found early on was that our male producers and artistic directors tended to be incredibly confident in what they’re doing, but often with a real lack of skills to back it up. And our female producers, of which the majority of our work is female led, in fact I think next season every show is female led and produced, and again it’s not by design it just happens to be this sort of work I think maybe is a more collaborative way of working, more appeals to female producers and directors, had huge ability but actually relatively low confidence and relatively low expectations of what they thought leadership meant. I think they were looking at a sort of like a Trumpian leadership style, and thinking well that isn’t me, I’m not leading this properly.
TP: And well, I don’t want to do that.
DB: Yeah, whereas actually they’re really good leaders, and a lot of it was thinking about well how can we give them the resource and the structure to both talk about the challenges they’re facing in an environment they can really thrive in and also that sort of gives them the toolkit and skills for the challenges they’ve got coming up. Because there is really no training for producing once you get into the field, or directing, or leading, you learn by doing it. So we thought well, professional development for leadership is something you worked in an institution or an organisation, but you don’t get if you’re an artist on your own or if you’re running your own theatre company because professional development is expensive, and the last thing you spend money on is yourself.
TP: I think when you talk about it, I love it so much, because it is as you say, these things are common in a corporate environment, but the New Diorama it’s almost like you are the HR and development department for fringe off west end theatre, and emerging artists.
DB: And it’s amazing, so we’ve sent several people now on The Clore Leadership Program, which has been great, and of course the thing is we reap the benefits, because these are all exceptional producers, and the work their making benefits from it, and we benefit from it in return. Helen, who is our producer, has also set up a female leadership set, so we sent her on an action learning course and they now meet every 6 weeks, to — well actually I don’t know, I’m not allowed to know what they talk about! I’m not allowed to know what is discussed, but I know it’s going really well and they’re all, and it’s been going for over a year now, and they all get a huge amount of that. But it’s about investing in those individuals in a way they can’t invest in themselves, and it’s probably the best investment we make.
TP: Wonderful. So going back to this year’s Untapped winners, are we going to be able to see the shows here in London, at the New Diorama?
DB: Yes. Breach are coming back for an extended run of their show, and that’s going to be a part of the next season. Nouveau Riche are going to be bringing it here for a week, I think that show is going to be picked up pretty quick by somebody, so we’re doing a week as soon as the festival’s over, to leave time for it to go off to a bigger venue, because I just think it’s so amazing that we didn’t want to restrict where that might go. Dressed is being supported by a number of London theatres, so we’re not quite sure where it’s going to have its full run yet, but we’ll definitely be doing performances here next season, maybe a smaller run and it might go on to one of it’s other producing houses for a more extended run, depending on how the Edinburgh run of it goes.
TP: Another really clever byproduct of being a company’s theatre, which I have to tip my hat to you for, is that you are able to program so far in advance, because you know what the work is and when it’s coming up and that it’s going to be of a quality that is deserving of a run in your theatre. So indeed you normally announce a full year.
DB: A full year in one go, yeah, which has all sorts of unintended consequences.
TP: What are the unintended consequences?
DB: For example we get a lot of groups coming to see work here, coming from abroad, because they set their itineraries maybe 8 months in advance, there are very few theatres which are programming that far ahead, even the National Theatre, the West End is, so they’ll go and see, so we’ll get groups coming to see a devised show here and Phantom of the Opera, and going to Madam Tussauds, and that is what they do.
TP: But you announce far, far in advance of say, the National, that you mentioned, and the flagship institutions, you are ahead of the game.
DB: Yes, which is again an unintended byproduct of it. It’s because we have a very small team, and doing one season each year means that we can focus, we’re 3 full time members of staff here, so it means we can focus on other things and it means those companies have got more stability, they can be fundraising, they can be marketing and selling their shows, so yeah it’s been a really good system for us.
TP: So you’re annual program, am I right in saying it runs September to June?
DB: September to June.
TP: Ok, and what are some of the highlights for 2018/19?
DB: Well, we’re changing the way we’re programming quite radically, we’re launching this next week, but by the time you’ll be hearing this we will have already done it, so you’ll be able to see how well or otherwise this announcement has gone. We’ve noticed something over the last few years, increasingly emerging theatre companies are being forced into sort of Festival programming models, because it’s great for theatres to run like festivals. So you get places like the Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Festival, Vault Festival, at places like Soho, our neighbours (CPT) run a festival program model where you’ll do several shows in one night, and you’ll run things for one or two performances, and it’s great for theatres because you can support a load of artists, lots and lots of artists are being supported, it means that box office is pretty stable, because everyone can sell a few performances, and it means you can talk to funders and supporters and say we’ve supported lots and lots of people and we’ve had lots and lots of people through the doors. However for artists I think it’s becoming a real issue, because you can never really build an audience, because you’re only ever performing for a short period of time. In London if you’re not on stage, you’re not getting paid, because to get any sort of funding you need to be performing and engaging with the public, to be earning any sort of box office you’ve got to be on stage and making that work, and the deals of these festivals and models of programming are relatively poor, they tend to be 50/50 splits, which nobody is making a huge amount of money out of. It means no one has any technical ambition, you can’t do anything really visually exciting or build a really exciting set or do anything really exciting with your technicals, it means you’re really stuck. And it’s glass ceilings you at a certain level. And over the last few years we’ve been waiting for people to come along and pick some of our companies up, to take them on to that bigger opportunity, boost them up to mid-scale, so they can start expanding that ambition. And it’s just not happened. People are very worried at the moment, theatres are holding onto their resources and their money, and there isn’t that escalation that we really hoped would happen. So we thought something needs to be done about it, and maybe we are the ones to do it. So next season, we are reducing the number of programmed companies we’re supporting from about 30 to 7. It’s about us saying, instead of helping a lot of companies just about get by, and giving them enough to keep them afloat, what if we said actually we’re going to get the most talented companies we’ve got, the best ideas we’ve got, and we’re going to throw everything behind them, in a game-changing move to really help them boost up their careers. So we’ve chosen 7 shows, from 7 companies, they were chosen from we asked all our companies to pitch work and ideas that we thought could run, and over next season we’re going to build up to doing a standard of 5 weeks. So 5 week runs.
TP: That’s a really nice length of time.
TP: Because you can get the word of mouth going.
DB: And some press.
TP: Yes, I mean that is exactly right, with the press if it’s 1 or 2 weeks they often just don’t have time to come and see it.
DB: It’s gone. It’s there and it’s gone. Even 3 weeks, it’s very very hard. Each company is going to be given 10’000 pounds, as a cash thing upfront, to help them build and make the show. We are going to give them a split of that box office, so we’re going to have a first call so we can recoup some of that money, after that we’re going to split equally with the companies that are coming in. We’re not going to give them marketing and press support, we are going to do all the marketing and press. Everything from printing the posters to posting them through letter boxes, to hiring a new member of staff who’s going to look after marketing and audience development, we are going to do all of that for them. We are going to do all the access for them, and the linking with our communities, so we’re going to do all their access performances, all of that, on their behalf to make that work. We’re going to hire graphic designers and photographers and videographers to make all of their trailers and to film their shows, and we’re basically going to do everything for them apart from making the show. And we’re partnering up with some mid-scale venues, who are going to come on board to ideally look at taking that work on once it’s finished here. So we’re already talking to the Royal & Derngate, and the Barbican, we’re talking to 59 off Broadway, where we’re taking some shows, transferring some stuff over there off Broadway over there to their 200 seater main space. We’re going to do everything we can to get these ideas up, off the ground, onstage in the best way we can to the most people we can and then onto the biggest audiences around country and around the world.
TP: David, that is so exciting, I can’t imagine how excited the 7 shows must be, the 7 companies, so please tell us, who are they? Just briefly too, because I know I’m taking up a lot of your time.
DB: Well, actually, we are still about to contract, so I can’t at this point tell you exactly what they are! We are really excited about them though, and you may have to take a look, but there are some brilliant shows that are coming in as part of that, and what’s interesting is that by asking companies to do something for 5 weeks, that’s the longest a theatre company would have run anything for, because even Edinburgh’s only 3 and a half weeks,so actually the ideas people have been bringing to us are ideas that have the scope to reach that bigger audience. They’re all their most exciting and public facing ideas, so we’re really confident that people are going to be really excited about them. They’re all things that I would have gone and seen if we weren’t programming here.
TP: Excellent, I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see that program. Just before we wrap things up, I just want to back up for a moment and talk a little bit more about you personally.
DB: Which is much less interesting!
TP: That’s why I’ve saved it to the end! No, but in addition to all the incredible things you are doing here at the New Diorama, you are a writer and director yourself, you’ve had a great hit this year with Secret Life of Humans, which indeed you’re taking to New York this summer.
DB: I woke up for the first time this morning worried, so I can tell it’s coming over the horizon.
TP: So tell me about you as a playwright and as a director, how do you balance that with your work here at the New Diorama?
DB: Really badly, I find it really hard to balance them off, it’s really difficult. I’ve always written from a very very young age, I really love making and writing theatre. The devised stuff we make here is different to the stuff I might write for television, or film, they’re more scripted pieces that are more authored. When you’re devising, you’re sort of writing work to inspire ideas from other people and then you’re writing that up and you’re endlessly evolving it. So it’s quite different work in different contexts. The company that I’m working with for Secret Life of Humans, we’ve all made shows together before, so it’s quite a comfortable and warm environment, and it’s quite a difficult process, I mean it’s opening work that’s initially is really bad, and it gets better and you keep improving and keep working on it. We’ve just run it in London for 5 weeks, on the last day we were still putting scenes in and new ideas, it evolves constantly in front of audiences. It’s the first time we’ve ever toured something out to New York, so we’re all incredibly excited about it. And they came along to see it and were really excited. They came really early in Edinburgh, we opened it in Edinburgh, and if anyone’s ever opened a devised show in Edinburgh, it’s horrible! And you live with a first draft all month, because you can’t go in and change it once it’s there, so they came in really early on and said we really love this show, and we sort of thought they were joking initially, we thought this is never actually going to happen! We’ve developed the show lots since then, so hopefully they’ll be delighted that they brought this show and we’re hopefully going to bring them something much better and coherent. But yeah, the first show is already sold out in New York, and the advance is much better than we thought it would be, I think they might think I’m the other David Byrne! Which would explain all of this seemingly amazing luck.
TP: Do you know what’s next for you as a writer or director?
DB: No, and I don’t think I’m going to make anymore theatre for a long time.
TP: Why is that?
DB: These processes are really long, they’re about 18 months ago, and every time it’s an 18 month process, I sort of want to try something different. I’ve done 2 sort of back to back, I’ve loved doing them, but actually I think I want to try something a bit new. I want to try something with film, something just a bit different. I also a few years ago did a lot of television writing, which I sort of dropped to do more theatre stuff, and I’d actually like to go back to that and sustain it and get that going again. I think it’s just about variety.
TP: But we’re not going to lose you to television?
DB: No, no, I’m sure I’ll still be here. But I think making devised theatre takes a lot out of you, it’s a very emotional process, it’s very draining, I find it very hard and quite depleting. And actually with a lot of the new ideas that we’re going to be doing here over the next few years I think that’s where my energy and attention needs to be. And with only 3 of us as I say full time here, when I make work Helen, who’s our producer, also stage manages my work and is in the room and a vital part of that process, so it means the team here suddenly becomes very very small. The building doesn’t stop when we do that, having a theatre is a bit like having a child that needs to be looked after all the time and you need to be with it all the time and it puts a great strain on everybody else, so actually I think maybe having a bit of a break maybe quite nice. We’re reviving an old show, so we did a production of Down and Out in Paris and London last year and the year before and 59E59 off Broadway liked it so much they asked if we had another show with the same ensemble, and we do, so we’re taking that out to Broadway next summer.
TP: So you, David Byrne, not the other David Byrne, is having 2 off Broadway shows?
DB: Yes, which is incredible, no one is more surprised than I am! Perhaps they are, but no, we’re delighted. They haven’t been here, I think they think we’re bigger than we are. This year we’re being billed in their main house, with a big new Alan Ayckbourn play, next year we’re being put in with a, I probably can’t say what it is because they haven’t announced it, but a big West End show, I think they think we’re like a proper big mid-scale house.
TP: Shh, don’t tell them.
DB: Yes, don’t tell them!
TP: Another thing I wanted to ask you about personally, when we get together I love talking politics with you. And I won’t go off with everything we could talk about, because we’d probably be here another hour, but I do think we’re living in a time of immense political upheaval, and I wonder what you as someone who runs a theatre, who writes and directs theatre, what do you believe is theatre’s role in dealing with this upheaval, or does it have one?
DB: It’s a really good question. In house, we’ve been looking at ways of bringing people together. And I mentioned earlier that, you know, we live in an area that’s very divided. We are based in an area where the inequality, and I think that inequality is the big problem that we’re facing around the world, inequality is absolutely at its peak. You know, as I say, you have areas of great deprivation and then you have the most expensive house in the country, and I suppose therefore the world, in Regent’s Park, and those people are living very separate lives. And if you believe that integration and people coming together is a fundamentally good thing, which I do, it’s about bringing people together to start them talking. Theatre is going through an age where once again it’s an incredibly vetted and unique thing. I always think this when I go to conferences, about how can we digitise theatre more, and actually where else are you going now where you’re sitting for 2 hours, in some cases 3 or 4 –
TP: Or 7.
DB: Or 7, without any other interference and you’re just listening and you’re watching and you’re thinking. And you’re sitting side by side with other people, and it is a communal experience. I think that is incredibly powerful. Down and Out in Paris and London, which we did last year, was about poverty traps, really, ultimately, when you get down to it, explaining poverty traps to people. About how if you don’t have any money, you don’t have any credit, how do you buy a bed? Well you go to somewhere like Brighthouse, and if you can go to somewhere like Argos with 200 quid you can buy a bed, but actually if you’re buying it on credit it will actually end up costing you something like 2 grand. It’s about explaining and looking at those thing and how those things happen, without passing any real political judgement on how we could fix it or what we could do. And that gap was really purposeful. It was about leaving people a gap, we weren’t preaching or trying to convert anybody, it was about leaving a gap for people to have a conversation or a debate. Secret Life of Humans is exactly the same. It’s about what brings us all together, we are all human, and we have all come from the same gestation of homo sapiens years ago, and we have a shared history. Amd actually we can learn a lot about ourselves now by looking back at where we came from, looking at ourselves fresh maybe for the first time, we don’t see ourselves really. It’s a bit like the painting on the wall of your house that you’ve had there for years and years, that you don’t really look at until a friend comes over and you look at it and you go, well actually you know I hadn’t noticed this before. It’s about for us finding moments where people can come together and where we can, sort of, find the things that bind us together rather than the things that push us apart. Overtly political theatre, I think as I’m getting older I realise that actually, is anybody who doesn’t agree with your initial starting out point really going to come and see your show about, you know, the financial crisis, or is going to come and see your show about the patriarchy. Are we getting people in who are really going to have a debate about this stuff? Actually there are probably other ways we can do it, other ways to build a platform, and as somebody who runs a building in a community, that’s what it’s about for us.
TP: Fantastic. And you do all of that we just 3 full time staff.
DB: It’s why I look so sleepy! They do most of the work.
TP: So what have I not asked you that I should’ve asked.
DB: Oh wow, that’s a very good question. What should you have asked… There are loads of really exciting new theatres opening at the moment, which would be good to talk about, which I’m getting really excited about.
TP: Which ones are you getting most excited about?
DB: I think there’s a next generation coming through that are doing really great stuff. Theatre N16 I think are great, and I really love the pioneering spirit of Jamie and his team.
TP: Jamie Eastlake, who runs it.
DB: Yeah, they’re based over at Styx at the moment, he’s taking, I can’t believe, it’s like a phenomenal number of shows to Edinburgh this year, so by the time this podcast comes out he’ll either be incredibly successful, or dead. There’s Alphabetti, that’s opened in Newcastle, we’ve just set them up as a charity, we did that here for them, I’m on their board now, and they’re doing just brilliant stuff in that city. It feels like a really brilliant time for people starting up their own ventures and getting stuff going, and there’s just a real spirit and energy to that new generation, and there’s a trying to find new ways of working and new ideas and new solutions to old problems, which I’m just incredibly passionate about. I get excited by nothing more than going to a new theatre and hearing the vision behind it, it’s really exciting, it’s my favourite thing.
TP: Fantastic, and marrying that spirit and that vision with, as you’ve described already, the skills that give the companies that longevity to keep going is wonderful. Well David thank you so much!
DB: Thank you!
TP: I love talking to you, I’m so much a fan of what you’ve already achieved here and I can’t wait to see the new program when it’s on. Ohh we forgot to say, one more thing actually, I’ve remembered what I’d forgotten, and that is that you do conclude the 2018 season with a festival, just give us the elevator pitch about Incoming.
DB: Incoming Festival is basically the best of the best stuff we’ve seen all year, from companies just starting out. So it’s great for audiences, all the tickets are a fiver, so that means you can come and you can try out work that you might otherwise not have been to. Last year 70% of audiences had never been to work by that company before. For the last few years we’ve run it just here, but this year we’re running it here and at HOME in Manchester, so it’s going to be happening simultaneously across 2 cities, which we’re really excited about.
TP: And it’s in partnership with?
DB: A Younger Theatre, who are brilliant to work with, who are Jake and Eleanor, and between the 3 of us we program the festival.
TP: I’m just going to keep on filling in names for you, so that’s Eleanor Turney and Jake Orr, who are wonderful and they have great vision and spirit too.
DB: Yes, they really do.
TP: Fantastic. So, let me just conclude by saying to all you theatre goers out there excited by the brilliant work being done here at the New Diorama, check out and follow the New Diorama on the Stagedoor App. Stagedoor’s clever little algorithms will keep you up to date with your favourite theatre makers here, and help you discover exciting new work. So thanks again David, for joining us, and until next time thank you guys for listening.
DB: Thank you!