Brief Encounter With ... David LambertDate: 20 October 2009
What is the Norwich Theatre Royal Actors' Company? How did it come about, and when? The company was set up under the umbrella of the Theatre Royal, Norwich about two years ago, with the intention of providing Norwich and the county of Norfolk with a professional theatre company performing contemporary and challenging work that would be unlikely to be seen outside London. The first production was David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, followed by Mark Ravenhill’s acclaimed pool (no water), The Ugly One, and most recently David Harrower’s Blackbird which has just finished playing to superb reviews and excellent audiences.
How did you personally become involved, and why? As director of the Norwich Theatre Royal’s Studio, I wanted us to be able to offer our professionally-trained staff more opportunities to hone their craft and the chance to work with top-rated national talent on stage and behind-the-scenes.
What influences the choice of plays? We look for several things in the choice of script, but basically the main criteria we look for are quality writing and a contemporary setting.
Are the casts drawn from a pool of players or otherwise selected? We look for as much local talent as we can, but we also audition in London.
What is the frequency of performance and length of run for each production? At present, we mount two productions a year, each one running at the Norwich Playhouse for a week. We hope in future to be able to put on more productions, and possibly look at touring existing ones.
What do you see as the highlights of the company? We have had some extraordinarily good actors performing and the standard of productions has been extremely high. I suppose the highlight for me is getting a professional company going, and the wonderful comments we have had from our audiences.
Are there financial constraints and, if so, what are they? Inevitably there are financial constraints but we work very hard with organisations and sponsors to support the company either on a play-by-play basis or more long-term.
Why are the plays performed at the Norwich Playhouse and not at the parent theatre? Norwich Playhouse is the ideal space for work like this. The ethos of the company embraces that of the Playhouse and we are very pleased to work with our sister theatre.
How close otherwise is the relationship between the Theatre Royal, the Playhouse and Norwich's other performing spaces? We work with a number of other venues. The Playhouse also hosts the Norwich Theatre Royal Arts Course summer show on a regular basis and The Garage hosts performances for the arts course as well.
What is your own professional background? I trained as an actor and director at the Bristol Old Vic, and have worked in the business in both roles since then. I have also been at the Theatre Royal since 1989, directing productions.
How do you see the Actors' Company developing? We will continue to work hard to enhance the reputation of the company. We have already worked with high-profile and highly-regarded performers like Roger Lloyd-Pack, Jamie Glover and Stuart Organ, and we aim to continue to work with actors of their calibre as well as the best talent from the region on and off-stage. We already have two productions planned for 2010 and look forward to more projects in the years to come.
David Lambert was talking to Anne Morley-Priestman