WHEN it comes to theatre, everyone has a pretty good idea what it is actors do.
The director’s role is less obvious, so Steven Wren, director of this year’s Eden Court pantomime Sleeping Beauty, explained what his work on the show involves.
Tell us what your role as a director entails?
Putting on a show is a hugely collaborative thing, but as director, the final artistic choices are mine. I have the vision for the production but I’m the yes/no man to other people’s suggestions. I oversee all the departments; script, song choices, style of music, style of choreography, I direct the actors, though often that’s just about channelling their ideas and making sure they don’t bump into each other.
I also like to coordinate with the permanent theatre staff and get them excited about the vision for the production so they can enthuse our audience.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Planning! With such a huge production, I have to be organised. I’m responsible for 8 actors, 6 dancers, 3 in the band, 24 kids and 15 crew. That’s too much to leave to chance, so I’ve been rigorous with myself. Roy, the choreographer also plans meticulously, so he keeps me on track too.
What else have you been up to so far this year?
I teach voice to acting students, I deliver corporate management training (so I guess I’d better be good at managing this production!) presentation skills training, voice-overs for TV and radio ads and I did a major refurbishment on my flat.
What is your favourite pantomime memory?
When I was six or seven seeing Stanley Baxter and Ronnie Corbett as Ugly Sisters in Cinderella at the King’s Edinburgh. In those days (1966/7) they threw out boxes of sweets. Buttons was throwing them to the stalls and circle. We were in the front of the upper circle, so my dad whistled to him and shouted "up here" There was a drum roll, and he launched the Fruit Pastilles towards us, but they fell short, onto the vents above the lights along the edge of the circle. So I was held by my waist to reach over for them.
Stanley’s costumes were all elongated and tall, while Ronnie’s were all squat and rounded. The whole thing was so exciting, the music and dancing, and it’s this sense of exuberance that I try to get into shows I direct.
How will you be spending Christmas this year?
Fretting about the company. Are they healthy? Have they still got their voices? Are audiences enjoying it? Christmas dinner will be a family affair at my brother’s.
In the show some of the characters travel through time in a Time Machine. If you could travel through time where would you travel to and why?
To 78AD, the year before Vesuvius erupted and covered Pompeii in lava and ash. It really is the most extraordinary place. I’d love to know what life was really like there. Books showing artists’ impressions of the beauty and extravagance of it, don’t, I’m sure, paint a realistic picture. So just for a day, I’d like to go back to ancient Roman times to see for myself.
• Sleeping Beauty runs at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, from Tuesday 3rd December 2013 to Sunday 5th January 2014.
For more information call the Eden Court box office on 01463 234 234 or visit the website www.eden-court.co.uk