Q & A with Producer, Edward Snape
Q – The forthcoming production of Goodnight Mister Tom is the first ever Children’s Touring Partnership production. Can you tell me how the Children’s Touring Partnership came about?
A – It first came about from a symposium organised by the Theatrical Management Association investigating the state of play of regional touring theatre. There was a particular breakout session where theatre managers and theatre companies got together to talk about children’s theatre. This was then followed by a whole day at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre where 80 people attended, working in either the commercial or the subsidised sector in children’s theatre. One of the clear issues that emerged was that producers and theatres need to work in a more collaborative way to create imaginative and creative theatre for children.
Q – What are the aims and ambitions for the Children’s Touring Partnership?
A – If this first tour is the success we hope it will be, our ambition is quite simple: to continue to tour excellent theatre for children. Regional theatres and commercial producers have worked well in the dance world in the past, and we would like to emulate that in the children’s theatre world. We noticed that there is a lot of theatre out there for pre-school children but there is a shortage of good quality work for older children. That’s where we think the Children’s Touring Partnership will be brilliant. There’s a real need for it, theatres want to work together and with producing theatres such as Chichester Festival Theatre and producing management such as Fiery Angel, we can all create something special together.
Q – Why did you choose Goodnight Mister Tom as the first title for Children’s Touring Partnership?
A – We felt it was a strong title that fitted very neatly into the age range we want it to reach, that is, older children of 8 plus. The great thing about this title is that avid book readers will know it but even if you haven’t read the book you may have seen the television adaptation with John Thaw. That seems to me a really good starting point. It’s also a literary based project and therefore the schools should respond well, encouraging further reading and curriculum interaction. It’s also a mission of intent for the Children’s Touring Partnership’s commitment to producing challenging not fluffy work. There are many issues in this play, with dark moments, handled sensitively and truthfully. The Children’s Theatre Partnership allows us to approach this piece from a different angle. For example, we can afford to have the parts of William and Zach being played by children and tour them around the country which in a normal commercial producing route would have been too expensive. As a result, audiences are going to get something incredibly different and special out of this production.