Theatre wants to reach out to town's younger generation

interview with Deborah Rees, New director of Cast in Doncaster {|Cast in Doncaster|click here}

Thursday, 20th April 2017, 12:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:55 pm
Deborah Rees, new director of Cast in Doncaster

The new woman at the helm of Doncaster’s Cast theatre is looking forward to involving more of the local community with the venue.

Deborah Rees has just taken over from interim artistic director Matthew Russell, who stepped in after the four-year-old venue’s founding artistic director Kully Thiarai left to work at the National Theatre of Wales. Deborah was previously in charge at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

She’s only just getting her feet under the table after starting in early March and we won’t see her direct influence on what Cast puts on stage for about 18 months, as theatres have to work so far ahead to book shows.

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Deborah said: “In the some ways, it gives me a chance to see how things are working and the audience response.

“What I really like about the programme at the minute is that it’s really got some work that’s artistically quite brave and interesting. It’s a real mix.”

Deborah has already been talking to people in Doncaster to see what they think about Cast and said some people have yet to discover it.

She wants to see something for everyone at Cast, including work that’s more challenging as well as what’s broadly popular.

She’d like to see some circus and some folk music on stage, too.

Sadly, there’s less scope for Cast to create its own productions now, she said. “I think the venue opened with that intention but the way that the finances have stacked up means we’ll be looking at being more of a receiving venue. We’ve not got the funds available to make in-house productions.”

However, Cast will continue to produce its own pantomimes, which have proved very popular.

She’s hoping in future to organise some co-productions to create new work that way. “We’re also very much involved with the big outdoor Global Street Art Festival still. That will be an impressive spectacle.”

That’s one way that the theatre can reach out to people, by taking shows out on the streets, she said, which is work that that the Right Up Our Street community arts project has already started.

She added: “It’s a very aspirational building. I think that it’s surely got to be a place that people feel perfectly able to come to.

“A lot of the work of the theatre is going to be outside and making links with people outside. It’s a big building and can be intimidating. I’m making sure there are ways of people engaging with it and not just coming to shows.

“I think it would be amazing to make sure that every young person is engaging with it in one way or another.

“The theatre is going to be there for a long time. I’m holding custody of it.

“In the long term I’m making sure it’s engaging people as they grow up and moving on on their lives.

“It’s taking a bit of time to settle down, Audiences are growing and it feels like it’s on the up.

“There’s lots of work and lots to do. It’s exciting.”