Core Theatre Productions was founded in 2004 by myself (artistic director) and my partner, Dan Shearn (creative director) with 7 of our friends who all had some sort of interest in theatre (whether that was in acting or backstage). We wanted to create a forum where people are welcomed and encouraged to develop their skills; whether that’s taking on a challenging role or directing for the first time. We have a committee of 7 so that no ‘one person’ is in charge per se, we all work together to decide which projects we are going to work on each year. Each production is then owned by one, maybe two, people so that decisions can be made when they need to be made – we’re not the kind of committee that has a vote over whether or not to vote on something! Next year is our tenth anniversary which is fantastically exciting and we have lots of things planned, so watch this space!
What is the show about?
So many things! Family, love, faith and change are the key ones that we’ve focused on though. The play is narrated by Michael as he looks back on the summer of 1936 when he was a boy of seven. He lives with his mother and her four sisters, in a cottage on the outskirts of the village of Ballybeg, County Donegal, Ireland. That summer was a time of great change for the family – they got their first wireless radio; Michael’s uncle and older brother of the five sisters, Father Jack, returned home from 25 years in Africa as a Catholic missionary; and his absent father, Gerry Evans, visited not once but twice.
What attracted you to directing this particular show?
I was looking for a piece with some strong female roles, a lot of the productions we’ve put on in the last couple of years have had really good roles for the boys so I decided that it was time to balance things out! Dancing at Lughnasa is such a great story; the characters are so well formed that they feel like ‘real’ people. Once I had read it, I couldn’t resist! From a logistical point of view it was a good choice to make as well; it’s all one set!
I love putting on productions at the Rondo because the ‘black box’ gives you such flexibility with your set design. Our past productions have kept the set quite minimal, partly due to budget constraints but also because that enables the audience to fill the gaps with their own imagination. Our wonderful set designer Julia Marshall-Wessendorf has created a space for this show that picks out the details of the cottage the family live in without over-cluttering it.
Where can people find out more about you, the company and the show?
What other productions have you directed or starred in?
Though the last couple of years I’ve mostly been found backstage directing, I have always loved being on stage, favourite roles include playing ‘Titania’ in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Roman Baths, ‘Annie’ in ‘Seven Tears by Moonlight’ at the Mission Theatre and (though this may sound contrived), Maggie in this production. This August will mark 10 years since my first production as director (Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ at the Assembly Rooms in Bath), which feels like quite a landmark, and I’ve worked on quite a diverse range of productions since then including ‘Wyrd Sisters’ by Terry Pratchett (adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs) which was huge fun, as I’m a great fan of the Discworld; Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, which was my first production after becoming a mum, and was fabulous and stylish; and Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, which is simply a great play, and was our first full sell out.
My A-level drama teacher, Joy Elizabeth Surgey, was a great inspiration. At some point towards the end of our A-levels she went from being ‘Mrs Surgey’ as we had known her for several years to ‘Joy’. We remained friends when our course ended and she moved to Corby. Sadly she died in April after an 8 year fight against cancer; this production is dedicated to her. We will be donating a percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales to a theatre group in Corby that was close to Joy’s heart, Shout, who are planning a piece of theatre to raise awareness of breast cancer.
What was your approach to directing this piece?
For me, theatre is all about storytelling, so from the start we have concentrated on making the Mundy family as honest and believable as we can and getting the story right. The Rondo is such a great space for making the audience feel like they’re a part of what is going on on-stage, it will be fun to include them in the Mundy family for a short time!
Dancing at Lugnasa by Brien Friel,
Wednesday 3 – Saturday 6 July 2013,
doors open at 7.30pm for 8pm start,
£10/£8 Bath Box Office https://uk.patronbase.com/_BathFestivals/Productions/RN52/Performances.