Rosamunde Hutt tells us who has inspired her throughout her career.
When I became the Director of Theatre Centre in 1993, arts consultant Irene MacDonald was on the Board. My first day was the company’s 40th Birthday and I felt like a butterfly landing on a rock. Theatre Centre was a magnificent national treasure that had inspired thousands of children and nurtured scores of actors and writers. Irene turned to me during the celebrations and said “whatever you do, challenge the orthodoxy”. This wise counsel has been at the heart of my career as an Artistic Director; keep taking creative risks, keep on pushing the boundaries.
I was lucky enough to travel by train from Derby to London on a cold winter’s evening with Theatre Centre’s founder, Brian Way. The whisky flowed. As did the stories. Brian was a remarkable example of a leader. He empowered so many. He let people fly. He created rigorous systems to ensure quality practice. He put the child at the centre. His vision, ‘I believe Theatre Centre is concerned with opening the doors and windows of the heart, mind and spirit’, has remained the guiding light of my artistic practice.
I worked as an actress in a golden age of Welsh theatre when there was a fully funded Theatre in Education company in every county. As actors we ran the companies, devised the shows, hired the writers and dictated the policy. Hijinx Theatre was one such an actors’ cooperative. They asked me to be an ‘outside eye’ when a production was going awry. Then they asked me to direct a brand new show from scratch: ‘Me?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ they said. And my directing career began. This four-strong band of brilliant actor-managers taught me always to give opportunities to others.
Even in 2013 there are very few models for the female artistic leader. As a child I was spellbound by the world of dance. There I could see women at the helm; Marie Rambert, Ninette de Valois, Martha Graham. To hear about a woman who formed her own company and created great works of art, but also who changed the landscape of dance forever, a true visionary, gave me courage and inspiration.
When I was at school my class was taken up to a show in London. Peter Brook’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Amazing! I recall actors juggling, on stilts, flying through the air. Actors who had to push beyond their comfort zones. Shakespeare seen anew. Experimentation forged through months of work. It was there I felt the joy of seeing an ensemble in action. As I wave goodbye to ‘The Snow Queen’ actors as they set off on Trestle’s UK tour, dancing, storytelling, stick-fighting their way through Anupama Chandrasekhar’s exuberant play, I think my passion for ensemble theatre started right back then in 1971, inspired by the astounding theatre magic of Peter Brook.
Rosamunde Hutt is Visiting Director at Trestle Theatre Company and a Freelance Director.
Contact Rosamunde via Trestle Theatre at email@example.com