Dorset-based theatre company Dramatic Productions return to the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne this summer with their second annual season of repertory theatre. Featuring a new play each week, the season includes A Bunch of Amateurs - Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s laugh-a-minute comedy, the classic British sitcom Rising Damp and Agatha Christie’s edge-of-your-seat thriller Love From A Stranger.
Tracy Jane Murrey, Artistic Director of Dramatic Productions, tells us more about what audiences can expect this summer...
Hi Tracy - What are the challenges facing you in putting together the Wimborne Rep season?
Rep is the most difficult of disciplines, the theatrical equivalent of running a marathon. We rehearse all day, performing a variety of shows over three short weeks. It’s intensely hard work but also exhilarating and rewarding because we have such great support from our local audience. Communities coming together through theatre is what it’s all about.
What can audiences expect this year?
This year we have chosen three cracking plays which, hopefully, will appeal to everyone. We’re keen to showcase some of our much-loved, local professional actors so expect to see the wonderful Julia Savill, Russell Biles, Celia Muir and Mark Freestone amongst other familiar faces.
Our first show, A Bunch of Amateurs, is a hilarious modern comedy co-written by Nick Newman and Ian Hislop, who most will know from the BBC’s Have I got News for You? It’s a love letter to amateur dramatics – an arrogant Hollywood star gets tricked into playing King Lear at a Stratford that certainly isn’t the birthplace of the Bard. It’s a sleepy village in Norfolk!
Our second show Rising Damp needs no introduction. It’s laugh-out-loud funny with all the characters we know and love.
Finally, we have a taught noire thriller by the queen of crime, Agatha Christie. Love from a Stranger is full of suspense, with all the usual twists and turns.
How did you choose the three plays?
Finding the right plays can be difficult and I spend a lot of time reading scripts. The thing is you need a great story with good characters that the audience will love and the actors relish playing. For example, recreating the iconic Rigsby from Rising Damp is a big challenge. Russell Biles, the actor taking the role, has his work cut out for him. He must be the Rigsby we all recognise but not a carbon copy or impression.
We also need to consider the setting of each play and how it can be transformed into something different and exciting for each show as the turnaround in rep is so quick. A lot goes on behind the scenes with our amazing set designers. I hope I’ve chosen well.
Which are you looking forward to directing the most?
This year we are delighted to welcome a new director, Joshua Ward. He will be directing our first play A Bunch of Amateurs. Josh started at Dramatic Productions several years ago as a sound designer and then progressed to starring as Greg in Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking and Lawrence in our production of Abigail’s Party last year. He is incredibly talented and one to watch!
I can’t wait to get my teeth into Rising Damp but Agatha Christie’s Love from a Stranger is a play I’ve always wanted to direct, especially at the Tivoli. It was written in 1936, the same year the theatre was built. How wonderful it will be to transport an audience back to that era with all the fantastic music and period costumes in the perfect historical setting.
Is it good to be back in Wimborne at the Tivoli?
The Tivoli Theatre is our summer home and performing there is the highlight of our year. It’s a beautiful, historic theatre much loved by the community. They fought hard to save it from demolition in 1979. There is a real sense of love and pride for the building in Wimborne. It’s a huge asset for the town and a cultural gem.
Dramatic Productions feel privileged to be returning to the Tivoli for the 7th year in row. We can’t wait to be working with their wonderful staff and volunteers again.
Any plans for the future?
We’re currently working on the exciting new feature film Lawrence: After Arabia with Gryffyn Productions. Shot in Dorset and France and due for release in 2020, it’s keeping us very busy. Theatre remains our passion though and we’re looking to extend repertory further afield.
The Wimborne Rep season from Dramatic Productions runs from 25 July - 10 August at the Tivoli Theatre, featuring a new play each week. Tickets are on sale now from the Tivoli ticket office on 01202 885566 or online at www.tivoliwimborne.co.uk