Tuesday, 7 June 2011

David Blumfield

David Blumfield teaches drama at the University of Aberystwyth.  He works with the community theatre at the Arts Centre and has run Castaways for almost 20 years.   I met up with David at the RAFA Club in Aberystwyth, after his production of Mapping the Soul by Lucy Gough.

David Blumfield
Saturday, May 28th 9pm
Aberystwyth, Wales

Can you tell us a bit about Castaways and your current production?

Castaways is the alternative community theatre. There are two community theatres in the [Aberystwyth] Arts Centre. One group tends to do more the musicals and comedies, we tend to do more… the off the boards kind of stuff!  In 1999 the community company was thriving. We commissioned Lucy [Gough] to write a play for us.  Most directors can only have small casts and most writers have to write for small casts because there just isn’t the budget to cover a cast of 25.  She thought it would be a brilliant idea to write a community play and it was staged this time in 2001 at the Arts Centre. It was very successful, so the 20th anniversary of Castaway came around this year and I thought it the most fitting play to do.  It’s a fascinating play.  Its rather like a trifle, you have a taste off the top and think, hmm that’s interesting, and then you go a bit deeper and its something else, then a bit deeper and the play tends to go like that and takes you to extremes.  It’s a fairy tale for grownups, its got all these wild and wonderful characters and all of a sudden be completely contemporary, like with the mobile phone and texting from the grave.  It’s definitely a director’s play.

What is the philosophy or ethos behind Castaways as a community theatre group?

The ethos of Castaways first of all is inclusivity.  The class is run at the Arts Centre, they are not auditioned.  It’s inclusive, regardless of experience or ability.   That’s the main ethos behind Castaways.  It’s right across the board, we have students and trained actors as well.  The other part of the ethos is for a community company to do work that most community theatres would avoid.  We’ve done work by Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Sarah Kane… for a community group to do plays like that, the difficult, challenging plays?!

Who or what inspires you?

Rock and roll!  I take a lot of inspiration from music. Hence the use of the band in the play, the whole time, I was encouraging them, ‘go metal-er, metal-er.   Alice Cooper, Rush, a lot of guitar based rock. We did the Ubu Plays, by the French absurdist and set it to a background of heavy metal and rock.  You’re unlikely to see a show I’ve directed that doesn’t have any music.

Dream projects?

I am a very keen football fan, my club is in the West Midlands, near Birmingham, and I’m a bit obsessed with them.  Dream project would be set in their grounds, probably something about football and Alice Cooper.  Anything about football or rock and roll that includes my club would be a dream project.

Is the director dead?

Noooooo…. Noooooo.   Directing is a bit like cooking, you keep adding new ingredients, herbs, seasonings and it might be too much so you reduce the sauce.  The director is not dead.  Actors need leadership. However a director is not a dictator.  The actor has got enough to worry about.  If you’re playing Hamlet, you’ve got a lot to think about!  It needs someone to worry about everything else, it needs the vision, the images to be in someone else’s head to create the picture.