IT may be a fraction of the size of some places she has worked but West End hit-maker Ruth Carney didn’t dwell when offered the role of Artistic Director of Sheffield’s Lantern Theatre.
Coming as the Nether Edge venue announces its second professional season, amid dramatically boosted audience figures for its first, she plans to create a lasting legacy.
The former Sheffield Theatres Associate Director behind hits Sisters and Confessions Of A City, Ruth reminded local audiences of her talents when she directed The Lantern’s debut production, a stunning taut drama called Order and penned by the theatre’s then sole creative brains Martin Derbyshire and Matt Risby.
She reveals her new appointment was already on the cards then. “It was talked about but I didn’t decide until after Order. I wanted to see how it went and how I felt directing in the space.
“As a director you have to ask ‘How is it going to fit with me’ particularly after coming off the back of big shows.
“But I love being in Sheffield and the venue and what Martin and Matt have achieved already is phenomenal. I know the three of us together will work really well because we all bring something different.”
Ruth, whose stock rose when she worked with award-winning director Matthew Warchus on Ghost The Musical in the West End and Broadway, Lord Of The Rings and Our House – the Madness Musical, will consolidate her role by directing in October.
Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down is by Doncaster writer Richard Cameron (The Glee Club)who will be involved in bringing it to life.
“I’m making a statement with that – I want local. There’s somebody now in place who can have those relationships.
“Even running a theatre the size of the Lantern is a massive undertaking so you need that artistic centre of people.
“I want to bring cohesion so as well as it being a touring house, a comedy, film, music and art space, it’s about how we spread into the community.”
Her acting academy CAPA, now partnered with High Storrs School, will become the Lantern’s resident school, giving potential for new talent to filter on to the stage.
“We’re also putting a call out to three local writers, South Yorkshire or north Derbyshire based, who we will mentor and develop a 45-minute, one act play for next June.”
Martin now becomes creative producer for touring and self-produced work at the venue. Matt does the same for music, film and comedy.
For Ruth the future is about filling the space with work other county venues didn’t previously host – as well as making the Lantern a production house that belies its leafy suburban location.
“I’d like to see it becoming a place people drink in and use as an arts bar, even when there’s nothing on. There are many venues like The Lantern, but its profile has been raised and more people see it as a professional venue. It will never be in competition with Sheffield Theatres, but it is part of the ecology of theatres in Sheffield. All three of us have the same values and believe in the same things when it comes to what that space should be.”
Among other new season highlights are Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Hull Truck’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Made In China’s We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?), as well as live music from the likes of Orchestre Ruffanti, Robin Hoare, Neil McSweeney, Diabel Cissokho and Mark Morris.
For tickets and season details visit www.lanterntheatre.org.uk