Ian McGlynn is a playwright and director. He has been the appointed Theatre Director for the Rondo Theatre, in Bath UK, since 2007. Ian is also founder and Artistic Director of Provocation, a theatre company devoted to new writing. He is the writer and director of Life and Soul, playing at the Rondo from Wed Sept 28th- Sat Oct 1st.
Tickets for Life and Soul, please visit the Rondo website.
More on Ian
Follow on Twitter @ianmcglynn and @provocationtc
Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/ProvocationTC
Friday, September 23rd 2011
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on my new show Life and Soul, which opens at the Rondo on Wednesday. It’s a story about three young women and their relationships with alcohol, what happens to them, the problems they have, and where their lives are going. It’s about hope and what happens when people don’t have hope in their lives.
What are the strengths and or the weaknesses of being the playwright and the director?
The strengths are that you have a vision of the show in your head that you are able to get to the stage, more along the lines of an auteur type of production. The main problem or difficulty is that any big flaws in the writing you may not be able to see as a director - because they’re your flaws, and they may well be carried into production without being challenged. I think that’s a big disadvantage. One tries to be as objective as you can. You try as the director to forget you wrote the script and treat it like any other script.
Who or what inspires you?
What really inspires me is the world around me. Things that happen to people, that affect people. Shows that have been on the surface politically influenced, that is very important to me - but underneath it all, still want to tell a human story. I am not necessarily inspired by theatre practitioners and things that go on in theatre. I think to some extent theatre has become far too inward looking. As a medium it’s about expressing something about the world around us. I prefer to look outwards. You just latch on to things sometimes that interest you and get under your skin and somehow present themselves as stories you have to tell about people.
What was the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t give up. Keep going.
What are the challenges and triumphs of running the Rondo Theatre?
The challenges are keeping it going. It’s a difficult economic situation at the moment and the Rondo exists on a hire basis. We don’t pay money to people to bring their shows to us, it’s all done on what they can earn through the box office. Getting companies to take that risk, and keep coming back and taking that risk with us, is a tough call. Its something we manage to overcome by being a good space to play in: people enjoy performing there. The potential rewards are there, so people can, if their marketing is good and they sell their show properly, come away from us earning more money then they would on a conventional deal. Our triumphs have been presenting a large percentage of new writing. Which is again a difficult sell to people, because new writing at the level we work at involves brand new theatre companies, brand new playwrights, who are unknown or next to unknown with no track records. To develop an audience for that and keep that audience coming back year after year is tough. We’re seeing a lot of changes, with the Arc Theatre down the road possibly closing and the Ustinov theatre taking on a really bold and ambitious new strategy, so hopefully our commitment to new writing and new companies is really paying off at the moment. Audiences are pretty good and our reputation seems to be gradually increasing notch by notch, year by year. That is a big triumph, keeping up with that policy and not giving up and going on to more commercial things.
As a playwright, the dream project is the next play. I am very luck in running a theatre so the next play I put on, whatever it is, will be my dream project. It would be really nice to be able to do something in a massive theatre that lots and lots of people come to, so it would be nice to write and direct something that went on at The National or somewhere like that but really, the dream is the next project.
Can you give us a hint on what the next project may be?
The next play I'm working on is about a right wing racist group. That’s what bubbling up at the moment.
Final question. Is the director dead?
No. Ever since I've been working in theatre I've never been involved in a production that didn’t involve a director. I think a director is necessary to bring a bit of clarity, objectivity to the project. Sometimes they bring a strong artistic stamp, sometimes their specific input is more organic and things evolve. But no, the director is far from dead. The director continues to be one of the links key to any production; and also in running a theatre. I am very lucky to be a practicing director who is running a theatre and my predecessor at the Rondo, Andy Burden, is also a practicing director. It’s good to have a person from that artistic side of things in a position of responsibility and power in a theatre building – I think it’s very important. I think we’ve all seen theatres that have been run by marketing people and the route they can sometimes go down. The director is still a very important figure. I hope.
Thanks Ian for sharing your thoughts!
“Be swift, be swift, be not poetical.” - Harley Granville Barker