INTERVIEW WITH OLIVER MACKWOOD

Oliver undertook a producer placement through CML, working with and learning from Sir Cameron Mackintosh (Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon). Two years ago he started working at Chichester Festival Theatre (Amadeus, Gypsy, Taken at Midnight) as an Assistant Producer. During the second year of his placement Oliver was asked to lead on four productions (Pressure, Pitcairn, Frankie & Johnny and Mack & Mabel).
As an independent producer, Oliver co-produced Mr. Happiness & The Water Engine at The Old Vic Tunnels with Theatre6. The production was given critics’ choice by TimeOut and nominated for fringe show of the year. More recently he has produced Holes, with Debbie Hicks, described by the Times as "The Beach meets Beckett, only with more laughter". He now leads on Dinner with Friends at Park Theatre, showing Oct-Nov 2015.
Later this year he will be helping to launch Jonathan Church Productions (JCP), as well as producing in his own right with the support of Stage One.

What does Stage One mean to you?
Stage One is an essential part of the theatre industry and it offers an incredible platform for new producers. Stage One is helping me to bridge the gap from working in the subsidised sector (Chichester Festival Theatre), to working as an independent commercial producer. There is a huge wealth of knowledge to draw upon and the support offered is second to none.

Last show you saw and loved?
I thought Oppenheimer, Directed by Angus Jackson, was a wonderful piece of theatre. Not only was it an incredible story told beautifully, but the piece was full of texture, it was technically impressive, and the whole thing bristled with energy.
Of the one’s I’ve worked on, Dinner with Friends has been 18 months in the planning, and I love the piece. It’s about relationships, and not only is that timeless, but it’s hugely illuminating. As you leave the auditorium with the audience, you hear them identifying with characters, discussing their flaws, and laughing at the absurdity of human nature.

What do you think is the best thing about Theatre?
It’s variety. Art is there to inform, to give us hope, teach us something and entertain us. I don’t think any other form of Art does this as well as theatre. I also love the immediacy of theatre, and that you see the work in the most interesting of forms, live.
As an industry, it’s the collaboration. We all like telling stories, and the whole industry works together, be that sharing creative contacts to create the best possible work, or by encouraging more people to go to the theatre. I think we’re more supportive of other people’s work than most industries.

What have you learnt from your mentors?
I was lucky enough to be mentored by Cameron Mackintosh, who has taught me lots of things. Top of that list would be attention to detail. He never sacrifices on quality, and unlike anybody else I have ever met, he has the ability to spot the smallest of issues miles out. Chichester Theatre taught me to get the best out of the creative team by adding value to all parts of the process. You have the responsibility to lead from the front, listen to all parties, and make the difficult decisions. 

What are you working on at the moment?
I currently have Dinner with Friends playing at the Park theatre, which has been a huge hit with audiences, and played to almost entirely full houses. It’s on until the 28th Nov.
I’m also working with a charity called The Big House, which uses theatre as a tool to help those who have no support get themselves back on track. We’re doing a promenade called Electric, under the Rio Cinema in Dalston. Runs until 12th Dec.
I’m aiming to co-produce my first musical next year, there’s a UK and Australia tour in the pipeline, and with any luck a West End production.

To find out more about Dinner With Friends, click HERE.
To find out more about Stage One's Bursary Scheme, click HERE.