Tuesday 11 August, 5pm
Elizabeth Newman interviewing Brigid Larmour, Watford Palace, and Theresa Heskins, New Vic.
You can join the discussion on Zoom. We’ll be asking questions from the floor and we’d love you to join us!
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In her final year at Cambridge, Brigid directed the Jacobean ‘protofeminist’ comedy, The Roaring Girl at the Edinburgh Festival with the Cambridge Mummers. The cast included Annabel Arden, Simon McBurney and Stephen Fry. The production was a hit, with excellent reviews, and attracted the attention of the RSC. Brigid joined the RSC in 1982 as their youngest ever Assistant Director, and the play was brought back into the professional repertoire in an RSC production starring Helen Mirren the following year.
In 1985 Brigid became Associate Director at Contact Theatre, Manchester. She directed a range of Shakespeares, classics and contemporary plays including Mustapha Matura’s Playboy of the West Indies, the first play to be produced outside London with an all-Black cast, and routinely practised non-racial and gender-blind casting.
She championed and directed the premiere of Charlotte Keatley’s ground-breaking play My Mother Said I Never Should after it had been rejected by the RSC, NT, Royal Court and other major theatres. It won numerous awards, became a worldwide success and a GCSE set text. The play, with its cast of four women, made Charlotte the most produced female playwright around the world after Agatha Christie.
After working as a freelance director in the UK and USA, Brigid returned to the Contact Theatre as Artistic Director in 1989. Together with Administrative Director, Vikki Heywood, she rescued the theatre from imminent closure and put new writing at the heart of the company’s programming, presenting work by Harvey Fierstein, Liz Lochead, Tyrone Huggins, Charlotte Keatley, James Stock, Rosie Cullen and Kevin Fegan, alongside classics like Measure for Measure.
Brigid left the Contact Theatre in 1994 to train as a studio director at Granada TV, where she directed news and some drama. She then developed SHAKESPEARE UNPLUGGED, a series of interactive, promenade productions of Shakespeare for RNT Education, continuing her practice of non-racial and gender-blind casting: David Carr as Henry V was arguably the NT’s first Black British Shakespearean King, and Virginia Radcliffe and Shona Morris each played a female Prospero.
From 1998-2006 Brigid was the Artistic Director of West End production company Act Productions, working with directors like Steven Pimlott and Peter Gill, and collaborating with partners like Sonia Friedman and the Gate Theatre, Dublin. She was also Theatre Consultant for BBC4 Plays.
In 2006, Brigid joined the Watford Palace Theatre as Artistic Director and Chief Executive.
Theresa has made an outstanding contribution to regional theatre by exploiting the impact and intimacy of theatre in the round. With an exceptional sense of how to appeal to diverse audiences without compromising on high standards of creativity or quality she is leading the New Vic to deliver its mission; to make great theatre in the round and to make a difference to the region.
Theresa, only the third Director of the New Vic in more than 40 years, joined from the new writing powerhouse Pentabus where her production of White Open Spaces, a collaboration with BBC Radio Drama, was nominated for a South Bank Show Award. At the New Vic Theresa has capitalised on the immediacy of theatre in the round to provide a framework for her particular style of visual and physical theatre, as in The Wicked Lady, where horse riding scenes were brought to life through aerial dance.
An exceptional director, Theresa is also a writer and she is at her best telling stories that engage audiences at many levels.
A leader with strength and consistency of vision she has been able to provide a coherent message for the Theatre, but also in her work with external colleagues and collaborators. She instils trust in her network and her views of the future direction of the New Vic Theatre. (Cultural Leadership Programme – Women to Watch)
Mon 17 Aug, 6pm: Tom Morris, Bristol Old Vic
Mon 24 Aug, 5pm: Natalie Ibu, tiata fahodzi
Weds 2 Sept, 6pm: Sarah Brigham, Derby Theatre
Mon 14 Sept, 6pm: Liz Stevenson, Theatre by the Lake
Mon 21 Sept, 6pm: Tarek Iskander, Battersea Arts Centre