INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA STAFFORD

Rebecca Stafford is an independent theatre producer and general manager. Rebecca’s work has always sought to be on the leading edge of how drama and comedy are presented to the public. Her particular area of expertise is producing site-specific and event theatre inside prestigious UK heritage sites. Her recent site-specific productions include; Frankenstein Revelations (The Medical Society, York); Moby Dick (The Guildhall, York); Witness for the Prosecution (Regional Tour); The Importance of Being Earnest (The Mansion House, York); The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (Merchant Adventurers Hall, York); Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band (Regional Tour).
Her site-specific productions have been voted one of the ‘Top 12 Regional Productions’ of 2014 and 2015 by The Stage and she was awarded a Stage One Producer’s Bursary in early 2016. Rebecca is credited as being the originating producer for the first ever site-specific staging of Agatha Christie’s Courtroom drama Witness for the Prosecution.

At the moment you are…
Just launching a major new production of Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie at London County Hall with my co-producer Eleanor Lloyd.

After working with listed buildings on many site specific projects, what are the main issues you’ve been faced with?
The main thing has always been about managing the relationships with the organisations and owners, putting the protection of the building and space first. They are often somewhat nervous at first as they have no true marker for what to expect. It is also about educating the wider team and the actors about the nature of the space. There is a collective responsibility to look after it and return it back in the same condition. If I get invited back I have done my job well. The more practical considerations are things like electrics for lights/sound, creating a bespoke seating plan for the space and trying to achieve a blackout - I am always chasing that total blackout.

What does Stage One mean to you and how has Stage One developed your career?
Stage one has played a crucial part in my career as it provided me with the specialist development I needed to take my work to the next level. I’m not a London based producer (my office is in York) and so making that leap to invest in myself really has paid off, to the best of my knowledge such extensive producer programmes don't exist in the north-east. After I attended the Stage One workshop in October 2015 I went on to be awarded a Stage One Bursary. I can wholeheartedly say that without that bursary I would not be about to mount my first London production!

When did you first discover your passion for theatre and what was your journey to becoming a Theatre Producer?
I guess I would say that I was a late starter, mainly because I suffered from a chronic illness until I was 26. Because of that experience theatre became a platform for me to provide others with escapism. I wanted to create experiences that would bring people together and introduce new audiences to theatre. I felt that staging plays in interesting and beautiful locations was a great way to do that as it removed all formal barriers.

What draws you to Agatha Christie’s works over other authors?
For an author of her time, a female author, her literary achievements are phenomenal. This is an author who is a highly skilled playwright as well as a novelist, an author who has only been outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. She really was a woman before her time. I find her skill as a plot writer quite remarkable. With Witness for the Prosecution you can tell that she attended trials at the Old Bailey because the attention to detail in the dialogue puts you right there in the heart of the courtroom. It really is the perfect play for the Chamber at London County Hall.

Last show you saw and loved?
The Graduate. It was very well done.

What do you think, is the best thing about the Theatre Industry?
The dedication and commitment. I also love that first moment of presenting your work to the general public, seeing their reactions is always a special moment.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Pick your battles. As a producer there are many to pick, so pick them wisely!

To find out more about our bursary and workshop, visit our website HERE.