STAGEY CHAT WITH JAMES DACRE


The next interview in our stagey chat series is with Olivier and UK Theatre Award-winning Director and former Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate Theatre, James Dacre. James is guest directing the Nevill Holt Festival in Leicestershire this year.

Get yourself comfy and join us for the next segment of Stagey Chat!

Hi James, how are you? Thanks so much for chatting to Stage to Page today! Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us how you first got into the theatre industry?

Good thank you! And delighted to be speaking with you. I first got into theatre at university, started directing and took several productions to the Fringe, and really didn’t stop from there. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to study theatre directing in New York then assisted sixteen or so different directors, made lots of work on the Fringe and trained on the ITV/Channel 4 regional theatre director scheme at the New Vic Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, which was in incredibly inspiring insight into the workings of a producing theatre.

You're guest directing the Nevill Holt Festival in Leicestershire this year. Can you tell us more about the line-up and your involvement?

As guest director I’ve worked closely with an amazing team to programme a really exciting line up for this summer. Alongside the centrepiece production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and residencies from Britten Sinfonia and Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, we have contemporary music from the likes of Jalen Ngonda, Alexis Ffrench and Jordan McKampa, world premieres from Isabella Gellis, Shadwell Opera, Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, Sergey Akhunov, C├ęcile McLorin Salvant, Dan Tepfer, Nicky Spence, Mary Bevan and Joseph Middleton and classical music including Max Richter’s wonderful Four Seasons performed by Britten Sinfonia and with artwork by David Yarrow.

We have comedy from both rising stars and household names including Seann Walsh, Mark Watson, and Jason Byrne, a sensational evening of laughter and captivating stories with legendary cricket greats Jonathan Agnew and Phil Tufnell, and conversations with acclaimed writers and broadcasters from Andrew Marr and Elizabeth Day to Emma Dabiri and Professor Alice Roberts.

Throughout the beautifully landscaped grounds of the 13th century Nevill Holt Estate, we have two major centenary exhibitions of Modern British sculpture, celebrating the works of Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi, and the visual arts programme includes the world premiere of BOTY, a celebration of British Pop Art pioneer Pauline Boty.

Last May marked the end of your time as Artistic Director at Royal & Derngate Theatres. Besides the Nevill Holt Festival, do you currently have anything else in the works?

Last year I founded the production company Living Productions, to champion exceptional writers, composers, actors and creatives, so there’s lots of exciting work to come there. We’ve recently co-produced Alecky Blythe’s Family Business on BBC Radio and a filmed version of Ralph Fiennes’ Four Quartets performance, which is now available on iPlayer.

This summer I’m directing David Edgar’s latest play, Here in America, for its world premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond in September. Set in 1952, it imagines the confrontation between two giants of stage and screen - Hollywood and Broadway’s leading director, Elia Kazan, and his closest collaborator, playwright Arthur Miller - both passionately involved with an actress about to become the most famous movie star in the world. And I’m thrilled to say that we have some very exciting commissions in the pipeline...

You've had an illustrious career already. Is there a standout moment for you in your achievements so far?

From 2013 I was Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate Theatres for ten years and I’m so proud of the work I did there. We produced more than 120 shows of which 60 toured both nationally and internationally, 42 transferred to London and were recognised with Olivier, Evening Standard, UK Theatre, WhatsOnStage and The Stage awards. We engaged hundreds of thousands of young people through our Creative Learning activities. Most importantly, the legacy of Royal & Derngate Made In Northampton series continues, celebrating the work produced onsite, the region’s incredible local creatives and community, and touring that work nationally and around the world.

My blog is called Stage to Page. But if you could turn any book, from page to stage, what would it be and why?

Well, this year’s Nevill Holt Festival includes several examples of page to stage, including Michael Morpurgo reading War Horse with musical accompaniment, Anton Lesser reading Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall accompanied by Debbie Wiseman’s score from the BBC Series, a 50th anniversary celebration of Noel Coward and some remarkable actors joining our poetry reading events, including Kristen Scott Thomas. The festival also has a literary strand with leading writers talking about their latest books, including Jenny Kleeman, Anthony Quinn, Kassia St Clair, Richard Coles, Alice Roberts, Audrey Osler, Amy Jeffs, Simon Martin, Charles Spencer, Sharmadean Reid and many more!

And finally, why should people book tickets to Nevill Holt Festival this year?

I hope there’s something for everyone - both to see something they already knew they loved and discover new favourites.

You can book tickets to the Nevill Holt Festival, here.

**photo credit: Marc Brenner**

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