What gets me up in the morning – Giles Croft, Artistic director
I have been a fan of Nottingham Playhouse since first arriving in Nottingham in 1983. I remember a striking visit when I took an Estonian visitor (with an extraordinary past which included a childhood in a concentration camp, and learning English by staring at Dickens’ novels until a meaning emerged), to the panto. It was a memorable evening, witnessing one of our British traditions through entirely new eyes.
Over the years, I have been to such a wide range of drama, dance, and comedy, it is hard to pull out highlights. Most recently Forever Young, the Kite Runner, and I Was a Rat have stayed with me. Two of the latter productions were directed by Giles Croft. I am delighted to welcome him to this monthly guest blog spot where we get a taste of people’s motivations for a wide variety of occupations.
What do I do?
As artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse I have a number of different roles that are usually complementary but occasional compete. Firstly I am responsible for defining and implementing the artistic policy of the theatre. Secondly, I have an executive role within the theatre which means that, alongside general management functions, I engage in negotiations with our numerous stake holders and I report to the board. Finally, I direct a number of the productions; in the past twelve months that has included Charlie Peace, The Kite Runner, The Ashes, The Lost Plays Revue and Of Mice and Men.
This is the third theatre I’ve worked in as artistic director – The Gate, Notting Hill and Palace Theatre, Watford being the others. I was also the literary manager of the National Theatre for six years working under Richard Eyre, a former artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse. The Playhouse is one of a diminishing number of producing theatres and we make between ten and twelve new productions a year, many of which tour the country with some going to London and occasionally abroad. This year alone we have taken our work to more than 30 towns and cities in the UK as well as performing at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, North Carolina.
We have over 120 staff many of whom are highly skilled artists and craftspeople in their own right including painters, props makers, dress makers and carpenters. These numbers are supplemented by an equivalent number of actors, directors, designers and writers that come through the building every year. I have been here for 13 years, by far the longest time I’ve spent in any job. It has proved to be constantly stimulating and satisfying.
What gets me up in the morning
My main challenge and motivation is to create a programme that is both interesting enough to continue to enhance our reputation whilst attracting audiences numbers large enough to keep us open. Maintaining the balance between artistic aspiration and financial good sense is central to my role and means that I can never become too indulgent.
Of course this can only be achieved by working closely with my colleagues at the theatre, and they are another reason why I get up in the morning. We have am extremely committed and talented group of people working across the company who demonstrate a remarkable enthusiasm for what we do.
Audiences are another essential part of the mix; I do what I do because I want people to see the work or engage in the numerous activities we undertake. Sometimes they’re more willing to do so than others, but that volatility is also part of the attraction.
Finally, when I’m in rehearsal the desire to spend the day solving the puzzles that any production presents is a strong motivation to turn on the early morning kettle; that said, after a particularly heavy production week I am rather more inclined to get up in the afternoon!
Giles in action directing The Kite Runner (photo: Robert Day). For more information on Nottingham Playhouse, click here or follow Giles on twitter on @GilesCroft
And more – see what gets other guests up in the morning
Suzy Lishman, Vice President of the Royal College of Pathologists
Linda Frier, award winning accountant of Coalesco
Simon Hallion, architect, Shared Architecture
Ruth Hyde, chief executive of Broxtowe Borough Council
Jo and Mark Beattie, mother and son artists