This week, we’re talking to Northampton based director and writer, Andy Routledge
Tell us a bit about what you do in theatre
I’m a director – I work primarily with new writing, devised theatre and community-inspired projects – and I’m the Artistic Director of 60 Miles by Road or Rail.
What first inspired you to get involved in theatre?
I did Drama as one of my A-Levels but I didn’t expect to pursue theatre any further than that. When I was studying English at the University of Nottingham I stumbled across the Nottingham New Theatre – the only theatre in the country that is 100% run by its students. Becoming a part of that community defined a lot of my university experience. It was here that I really fell in love with the live and social aspects of theatre – both in its creation and its reception. I got involved in many aspects of theatre-making – acting, directing, set building, technical theatre, and took work across Nottingham, to the Edinburgh Festival and the National Student Drama Festival.
What shows have you worked on?
I co-created Ventoux with 2Magpies Theatre, a show about Tour de France cyclists Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani. Following runs at Curve and Summerhall it toured to over a hundred theatres, community centres and cycling clubs across the UK. It’s actually supposed be touring Scotland right now! I was the trainee director at Royal Exchange in Manchester in 2016/2017 and as part of this I was the assistant director on 5 productions, the first of which was A Streetcar Named Desire staring Maxine Peake. In 2018 I directed a research and development of a new project called 60 Miles by Road or Rail, a political piece about how Northampton has changed over the last 50 years. Earlier this year I directed When We Died which was written and performed by Alexandra Donnachie and produced by Carbon Theatre for Vault Festival. I first read the play when it was longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting (which I’m a reader for) and we developed it here in Northampton alongside Serenity Sexual Assault Health Centre.
Which productions have you most enjoyed being part of?
Probably 60 Miles by Road or Rail. It started off as an idea for my dissertation and it’s been a lot of fun seeing that idea develop as more people have become involved. I sat down with over a hundred Northampton locals and asked them to share their personal experiences of how the town has changed as a result of its New Town designation in the late 1960s.
I worked with a group of local artists (Subika Anwar-Khan, Jo Blake, Helen Crevel, Davin Eadie, Courtenay Johnson, Ryan Leder, Dan McGarry and Joshua Val Martin) to explore how we could present our findings theatrically. Whilst we were making the show the news that the County Council had gone bust came to a boiling point, and there was something very interesting about moving between rehearsals and the political protests in town. We presented our preview show in September 2018 at Royal & Derngate as part of Generate, and it was really special sharing the production with the people whose stories inspired it. A new year-long version of that project is supposed to be taking place now, with a new show supposed to be happening again at Royal & Derngate in October, but sadly we’ve had to postpone that for the moment…
But it will be returning! You can check out www.60milesbyroadorrail.co.uk to find out more about the project, and can share your own Northampton or Corby story too.
If you could direct any play, what would it be?
I love the work of Sam Shepard. Family, place and class are themes that I find myself regularly drawn to. I’d love to direct Curse of the Starving Class. It’s arguably the least well known of his Family Trilogy (the others being ‘True West’ and ‘Buried Child’) but I think it has a lot to say to our lives today. And it’s wickedly funny.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen on stage?
I absolutely loved the Young Vic’s production of Death Of A Salesman, which I saw twice. I also loved James Rowland’s Song of Friendship cycle in Edinburgh. And Hamilton, obviously.
What do you love about your local theatre community?
I love that Northampton offers a range of quality theatre that is both made locally and that comes from around the country – from new plays and classics, large-scale touring musicals and comedy. In recent years it feels that there has been a resurgence in Northampton’s local music scene too. I’d love if we could create a sustainable studio culture in Northampton, both for local professionals and touring studio work, to offer a home for the type of theatre that doesn’t sit in the other spaces.
What have you been doing theatrically during lockdown?
I’ve been reading loads of new plays and writing script reports, as well as trying to develop my skills in dramaturgy. I’ve been regularly attending In Good Company’s Mega Zooms, Warts and All Theatre’s PROPER Catch Up and the Young Vic Directors Programme workshops, all of which have provided a bit more structure during this strange period. I’ve also been trying to develop a few projects that were confirmed before lockdown, primarily working with writers and designers. I’ve been watching some of the theatre streams, but not as many as I thought I would. I miss the liveness and being in the room with other people too much!
In these dark times for theatre, who would you like to encourage people to support with a donation if they’re able?
I’m supporting my local theatre, Royal & Derngate’s Back Together campaign
Intermission Interviews are the work of Becki Cockcroft and Matthew Neuenhaus. Becki is Marketing & Press Assistant at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate theatres, and a freelance marketeer, designer and photographer, and Matt is Marketing Officer for Birmingham Hippodrome.