Brief Encounter With ... Making Noise Quietly director Peter GillDate: 23 April 2012
Cardiff-born Peter Gill has had a long and illustrious career in the theatre as an actor, a playwright and a director with major associate and artistic directorial stints at the Royal Court, the Riverside Studios (he was its founding artistic director) and the National Theatre.
Tell us about Making Noise Quietly.
The evening consists of three plays which address the subject of war and violence, but quite tangentially. They are very personal stories and often quite oblique to the subjects - and all the better for being so to my mind.
The first is set in a field in Kent in 1942 but to all intents and purposes you wouldn't know it was set during the war. The second play is set during the Falklands War and the third in the 1980s with references to various conflicts including the Second World War. But they are not "war plays" as people would understand them; they have no element of Saving Private Ryan about them.
Why these plays?
They are classics of their kind really. They are a particular genre from a writer who has got a particular voice and they marked his first big flowering. He wrote plays before and after but these just seem to strike a chord whenever they are done. I have known Robert since he was starting out as a writer. I first met him when Stephen Poliakoff brought him to my flat for tea once when he was about 23 and he had just come to London.
What are the challenges of directing three plays in one?
“We were thinking about that today. The difficulty is that the problem you solve in one play won't solve a problem in another. In the ordinary course of doing one long play sometimes what you solve in Scene One solves something in Scene Eight without you knowing it. It is as much work as doing three long plays even though they have a thematic or poetic element connecting them. They all have separate casts so nothing an actor is solving in the one is going to help anyone in the third play. But we'll see if it makes a difference with an audience. We don't know yet. I'd forgotten quite how hard it is. I've only done double bills before and they are hard enough!
How are you enjoying being at the Donmar Warehouse?
I'm enjoying it very much. I've been here twice before as a director and a writer. This is the first time with Josie Rourke but that's fine because Josie used to be my assistant. I've known her since she left university. She directed a play of mine at Sheffield and assisted me on The York Realist. I also worked with her at The Bush.
You've had an amazing career in the theatre. What are your highlights?
The highlights are always the last thing I did and the last thing I did was a revival of A Provincial Life, a play I wrote based on Chekhov's story My Life - The Story of A Provincial when I was 25. At the time it was given one performance with a rather illustrious cast one Sunday night at the Royal Court in the mid 1960s.
The new National Theatre Wales revived it at the Sherman Cymru and it went very well. I believe it was well received in The Independent (editor's note: four stars). I haven't read the reviews - but I will, I'm not being coy.
Do you have any particular ambitions for the future? Anyone you want to work with?
No, I've been very lucky so I'm happy to do whatever comes up as long - as it's something I want to do.
What's next for you?
I recently finished writing a play before and I want to see what's going to happen with that.
Are we allowed to know what it's about?
Not really, no.