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Fantastic news for the RSC – well deserved Greg

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It's such a pleasure to see news when a good friend gets a great job. When a good friend gets the job of his life it's even better. So today Gregory Doran is rightly applauded by staff, colleagues, the press, and his new employers as artistic director designate of the Royal Shakespeare Company – the greatest bard show on earth.

Spool back a few years (ok 35) and there we were creating a sponsorship brochure, just like every student theatre company did then, and does now. We sent out 400 letters to companies across the UK. We needed funding to get together the very first British Universities Shakespeare Company.

And thank you, thank you ICL (the British computer company) pitched in £25,000 to make our dream possible. We gathered a company of 25 artists from 14 different universities, opened Romeo and Juliet in the West End (as you do when you are naive and headstrong – first performance of the show, opened to cultural attaches and the national press, and it was not a good night!!!), and then we toured the UK with the show – and the audience, press, and friends really liked it.

It was great working with Greg then. It was great working with Greg when he landed the job of artistic director of the last Blue Box season of the old Century Theatre Company in Keswick. And now it is absolutely great to see him get the top job.

Why write this blog – well it's about perseverance, and self belief, and making your own things happen. Greg’s appointment should be a reminder for every creative producer, emerging director, young theatre company, student of theatre, that if you keep going long enough, and keep making work, and keep being loyal to your friends, you will get noticed. If my memory serves me Greg had to go out and raise his own funding to make his first  major show happen at the RSC. He did it. It was a great hit. He kept working with them.

When we were 21 and doing R&J we told each other we’d make it by 25. When we were 25 and Greg was an actor/assnt director and I was freelance in Edinburgh (oh and we were losing money doing a major exhibition of quilts on tour in the UK – but that’s another tale) we both said we’d make it by the time we were 30. As we passed 37, I think, I remember having a conversation with Greg and him saying – all we really want is a real job by the time we’re 40. He got full-time at the RSC and I got full-time at Cameron Mackintosh. Now 13 years on he has got to the top… and he’s never forgotten those who travelled with him. (Guess who was the first person to email me and tell me Greg had got the job at the RSC… Greg.)

Good on you Mr Doran. May you continue to create great theatre. May you find yourself a great new Exec Director, and great creative colleagues – so that you can continue to do what you do best – create productions that enchant, delight and surpise. And thanks to Brian and Martin of ICL for an inspired investment back in 1977 in a young director’s vision and his very handsome company of student actors.

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