INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL BUCKROYD
This week we've been chatting to Artistic & Executive Director of the Exeter Northcott Theatre, Daniel Buckroyd. In the lead up to Stage One's reopening of our regional producer placement scheme, we wanted to catch up with the Northcott who have been one of our fantastic hosts this year. Daniel was appointed at the Northcott in May this year on the back of his success as Artistic Director and Joint CEO at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester.
What can we look forward to for 2018/19 at the Northcott?
We’re just about to open a brand new production of Schiller’s Don Carlos, starring Tom Burke, in partnership with Nuffield Southampton Theatres and the Rose Theatre Kingston; and then in Spring we’ll be launching a national tour of a new hip hop version of Wind in the Willows with Metta Theatre, one of the Northcott’s Associate Companies, and re-mounting my own production of Turn Of The Screw, also touring the UK. And that’s before we even mention visitors such as Kneehigh, Richard Alston, English Touring Opera; plus of course the Northcott panto!
You took on the role of Artistic & Executive Director earlier this year coming from the Mercury theatre in Colchester. What, if anything, has been the most notable change in coming to the Northcott?
There are so many elements of this new job that are familiar from my role at the Mercury - a dedicated staff team, a building that’s nearly fifty years old and in need of investment, an intimate c500 seat auditorium - however there are key differences too. Strategically, the Northcott’s partnerships with the University of Exeter and Exeter City Council offer some pretty amazing opportunities for the theatre over the next few years which I’ll need to lead on realising in this new role; artistically, there’s more of a balance between produced and visiting work at the Northcott than I’ve been used to, so a chance to work with a wider range of artists, companies and producers; plus there’s an incredibly strong audience for dance, physical theatre and opera alongside a track record of generating big audiences for drama and music theatre, which is a great foundation to build future programming upon.
How has hosting a Stage One apprentice supported and will continue to support the organisation?
I was so pleased to discover that I’d be ‘inheriting’ a Stage One apprentice at the Northcott, as I had a great experience with the scheme at the Mercury a few years ago. Charlotte Haswell-West, the Northcott’s current apprentice, is already proving herself to be an invaluable member of the team as we launch into a review of the way the Northcott manages it’s programme, and I get stuck into the business of programming our 2019/2020 season. Of course, as her skills and knowledge increase she’ll be able to take more and more responsibility, but it’s also hugely helpful having a different (younger!) perspective within our programming discussions.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love it when I get to play a part in bringing people together - a staff team working together, an acting company pulling together, an audience coming together to share in the experience of a live event - it’s always been the collaborative, social nature of theatre that’s fuelled my passion for it.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing regional theatre?
Hanging on to everything that makes visiting a ‘traditional’ theatre building magical, whilst simultaneously pushing the boundaries of the experiences we offer our audiences and patrons to compete in an ever more crowded cultural marketplace. And making less money go further!
What is the best piece of advice you could give to those looking to produce regional theatre?
Regional theatre isn’t regional because it’s not London - it’s regional because it’s about theatre institutions rooted within particular regional constituencies supporting artists to make great work in dialogue with particular regional audiences - put those audiences at the heart of everything you do and you won’t go too far wrong.
One show you’ve seen and loved that will always stay with you?
So many, but Complicité’s Mnemonic leaps to mind - the exquisite interweaving of it’s three stories and the thrill of being lulled into the drama by Simon McBurney and a great audio coup de thêatre.
Lastly… where would you recommend for a pre-theatre dinner and drinks in Exeter?
Yikes, I haven’t been in Exeter long enough to know all the best haunts, but the Cosy Club is very nice (www.cosyclub.co.uk) and Chef Paul at the Northcott does a mean pre-theatre dinner menu!