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Brief Encounter With ... Sue Lefton

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Why did you choose the Bergman version of A Doll's House for your latest production at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester?
Because it is stripped down and to the point.
How does Bergman’s adaptation differ from other versions?
It cuts out all the naturalistic elements of how and why characters arrive on stage, so these parts of the play are cut. It also cuts out five characters – Nora's three children, their nanny and the maid – so it is a relentless investigation of Nora's dilemma. The characters arrive almost like a dream summoned by Nora to push along the action whether she likes it or not.
As an associate director of the Mercury Theatre, how much do you get involved with its programming?
I am asked for suggestions for plays and for casting.
How did you become involved with the Mercury in the first place?
I was interested in their work which sounded like the kind of thing I wanted to involve myself with – so I contacted the Mercury and it went from there. My experience in movement greatly interested Dee Evans (the theatre's artistic director) who was looking for someone to do some work with the company for their company development programmes – a crucial part of the company training.
Actors are paid to come and study once or twice a year for a week on voice, movement and other aspects of essential theatre work, and actors who have worked with the company are invited to participate. It is an enormous financial investment for the Mercury but a unique and valuable experience for all concerned.
 What productions have you been working on recently?
Most recently I directed BetrayalDeath of a Salesman and The Bay at Nice with Family Voices as a double bill.
In the present international economic climate, do you feel that producing theatres and companies in the UK are dis/advantaged or otherwise compared to their counterparts on the European mainland?
At present the British theatre is struggling particularly hard financially, but I have worked quite a bit in France recently and things are hard there as well. The Mercury has brought so many new and varied audiences into the building in the last few years so its a very exciting forward-looking place.
What are you going to be working on next?
I'm not sure what my next project with the Mercury will be next but we are in discussion about this.
Sue Lefton was talking to Anne Morley-Priestman

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