Tabitha James interviews David Greig, the new Artistic Director at the Lyceum Theatre. Mr Greig announced the Lyceum’s new season (16/17) on the 3rd May which includes a number of world premieres in its programme. There is also a move to including more amateur performers in various productions such as The Suppliant Women and emerging talents in the Variety Nights.
TJ: I was hoping to start off with the reasons why you chose the shows that you have for next season? Are they ones that are old favourites and with the world premieres how did you decide to take the plunge for putting them on?
DG: Some are plays I’ve always wanted to see staged – Winter’s Tale is my favourite Shakespeare for example. I’ve long wanted a go at The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other as well. Other shows, like Suppliant Women, are projects I’ve been working on before I got the job. But they seemed perfect for the theatre. Then the rest I found by speaking to writers and directors, seeing what they thought and fired them up. Then a lot of time daydreaming and reading.
TJ: The adaptation of Aeschylus’s The Suppliant Women sounds extremely interesting– has this been something you have always wanted to adapt? Following the success of the Iliad is the Lyceum looking to include more classical adaptions?
DG: Yes! I’m glad you think it’s interesting. The project came to me from Ramin Grey, the director with whom I did The Events. As soon as he told me about it I was intrigued. It’s so ancient and yet feels like it could describe news events from yesterday. It involves young people, democracy, music, athenian thinking, shamanic ritual!! I’m thinking of it as a sort of opening ceremony for my whole season.
I hope we’ll keep doing work from all the repertoires. The Greek repertoire is particularly rich. I’m sure it won’t be the last one I’ll put on the stage.
TJ: What did you do to prepare for becoming the Artistic Director of the Lyceum? Has it been something you aspired to do or was it a new direction for you?
DG: It’s a new direction, definitely. But I’ve aspired to artistic direct a theatre for a few years now. I am so excited by dramaturgy, by working with directors and writers on their projects and helping them to shape and realise them. But I’m also passionate about the theatre as a civic, democratic, space. A space where people gather and encounter new thoughts, hard ideas, comedy, humanity. So it’s a great privilege to be able to shape the civic space of Edinburgh – the Lyceum.
TJ: Will you be directing some of the shows next season or coordinating the production efforts?
DG: I will direct one show, Glory on Earth, about Mary Queen of Scots and John Knox. The rest of the shows I’ll contribute advice and support to the creative teams.
TJ: Is directing a passion of yours or do you prefer writing the script and letting it go? Can it be frustrating to see what a company does with your script when they take it in a direction you hadn’t expected/created it for?
DG: I love directing. It’s a pleasure. I find writing very very hard. Writing a script is mostly like chiselling ice off a rock with a wet stick. Frustrating and hard and uncomfortable.
But then there is a great pleasure when one’s script comes into rehearsal. That’s pleasure.
Mostly I love being in the rehearsal room.
TJ: Are you going to be continuing to write your own scripts during your time as artistic director or will your time be spent coordinating the Lyceum productions?
DG: I’m still a writer. Co-ordinating and dramaturging Lyceum productions is going to take time, for sure. But I will also make time to adapt plays, write new plays and work on projects for the theatre.
TJ: As an online source for young readers we are especially interested in your plans to cast a large number of amateur performers. Will it be an open audition process or will you be reaching out to university theatre societies and local amateur dramatics groups?
DG: Yes. There won’t be an audition process as such. We’ll invite people to participate in workshops and if they’re interested then we’ll ask them to be part of the process. The Suppliant Women chorus will be recruiting soon – there’s a form to fill out if your readers are interested in that. Then, if they fit our criteria, they will be asked to a workshop. But in The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other workshops will be in spring 2017.
Written 2,500 years ago by the great playwright Aeschylus, it is a tale of a group of women’s flight to escape forced marriage and find protection as a civilization decides their fate. It is a story that echoes through the ages to this moment – the first ever English-language production of one of the world’s oldest plays.
At the heart of this story are fifty young women in full chorus arguing for their lives – the Lyceum is looking for a community cast from Edinburgh to play this title role.
If you are a woman aged 16 – 26, and prepared to commit to the rehearsal and show schedule between August and October 2016, this could be your chance to work with Director Ramin Gray, Composer John Browne, Artistic Director David Greig and appear on The Lyceum stage alongside professional actors.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest and find out more.
TJ: Finally your Lyceum in the City – will this be drama productions or different forms of creative work? I saw that Jenny Lindsay will be helping program the Sunday Variety nights. Will Lyceum in the City follow a similar vein like encouraging new works and exposing the audience to new writers?
DG: Yes! Jenny is doing Variety nights with us. That’s a great place for new talent.
Lyceum in the City will be a program of work across the city and in different spaces. It will be a mix of new and classic work. But we’ll be announcing more about that in September.
Many thanks to Mr Greig for answering our questions; the Theatre team at Young Perspective are very excited about the upcoming 2016/17 season.