INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW HUGHES

Andrew Hughes is one of the 2015 recipients of the Stage One Bursary scheme to support his independent producing partnership with MOTOR.  Andrew will be debuting new play Ross & Rachel by 2015 Olivier-nominee James Fritz at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015 as well as touring Thomas Martin’s time-travelling spoken word murder mystery show Professional Supervision to UK Festivals. He also continues to work frequently with Punchdrunk and has previously worked with Vicky Graham Productions, Siobhan Davies Dance and Blind Summit Theatre Company.

What does Stage One mean to you?

It’s a support network. It feels like one of the biggest challenges that strangles ‘emerging’ theatre professionals is a real lack of transparency – about funding, programming, making work – that means it’s really easy to feel like you have lots of questions but no way of getting answers. Stage One is a huge platform for asking those questions to people who might be able to help. Even if the answer is ‘yeah, I struggled with that too, there’s no easy solution, let’s go to the pub instead’ it’s so vital to connect people with other people and start opening up the process of making theatre. Otherwise it’s a closed shop and the same people will be making the same shows forever.
A lot of the work I’ve done to date has been with companies in the subsidized sector and I have always been very naïve about what being a commercial theatre producer actually means. There’s an odd prejudice I think that means people are suspicious of something being commercial as though you’ve left your morals and taste at the box office and have pound signs rolling around your eyes. It’s only through being involved with Stage One that I’m realizing commercial can mean producing theatre for the widest possible audience in a way that, if you get lots of the elements right, can work as a business model.
I also feel like Stage One is really unique in its focus on developing individuals. A lot of the funding and support (that is otherwise available) is project specific but very little that allows you to say ‘you know what? The most amazing thing for me right now would be to be able to focus on the work I want to do rather than juggling 10 jobs at once to pay the rent’. It feels particularly great to get that as a Producer actually - usually I find you’re the one trying to take the stress and problems away from everyone else and when the buck stops with you its nice to have the support behind you of people who understand that process.
Getting a Bursary might also mean that I actually start calling myself a producer... Maybe... I should probably work out what a producer does though first!

Last show you saw and loved?

A View From The Bridge. Obviously the answer everyone else has given but it was the first thing in a long time that got me genuinely, gut wrenchingly excited again about theatre.  Every theatre experience just needs to be that good - audiences are taking two or three hours out of their lives to sit in a darkened room with a bunch of strangers and there should be something really special about the intensity of that period of time you share with them. I love that I saw it alone at the Young Vic and then was able take some friends to see it in the West End on £10 front row tickets. I’m now taking my mum to see it in the cinema in a few weeks. She’ll probably hate it now because I’ve built it up so much!
The Wild Duck by Belvoir St Theatre at the Barbican has also really stayed with me. I was a wreck by the end. They also had a live duck on stage so that’s always going to be a winner.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

Edinburgh Festival. James (the writer) texted me the other day saying ‘I just realized that whatever happens we’ll have a play on this summer’ which is exciting! Introducing the audience into the equation is the thing that makes you conscious of what you’ve done and I’m really excited to understand what we’ve made.

What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’. There is a way of taking the work deadly seriously without taking you or your ‘career’ seriously at all. Don’t try to be successful, try to be good ...I’m starting to sound like a fortune cookie now aren’t I?

Ross & Rachel by James Fritz, 6-30th August at Assembly George Square (The Box)
Professional Supervision by Thomas Martin, 29th May at the Plymouth Fringe and 13-18th July at the Flare International Festival

@andrewjhughes