From the glitz of London’s West End to Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre, Mark Goucher will bring his wealth of experience to town in his new position as chief executive in March 2017.
Revealing his aspirations, favourite shows, and love of Gloucestershire, the multi award-winning producer discusses all-things theatre with SoGlos.
I’ve been an independent theatre producer for 25 years – I started pretty much straight out of university. I began at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and then moved to bigger shows that toured the UK, and then shows that started in the West End. Essentially now, I’m a West End producer.
About 15 or 16 years ago, my partner and I bought a house in Gloucestershire, and I’ve lived in the same area, between Stroud and Cirencester, ever since.
When I heard that the Everyman Theatre was going to have a new chief executive, I decided that I would apply, on the basis that the board would allow me to continue to run my company in London
The aim for me is to bring more shows, not just mine, but other producers’ shows, here to Cheltenham, so that we can increase the reputation of this theatre – and that’s what I’m going to try to do.
I believe that I can find ways to get better shows, with bigger names, that we can bring to the Everyman Theatre.
I can’t tell you at the moment exactly what shows will be coming! I will be taking over in March, but Geoffrey already has a lot of the autumn programme in place.
I’m going to add a few things into that, but the work will probably really start towards the end of 2017, and going into next year. But already, a lot of other producers have contacted me about wanting to start work here, and essentially what we have to do is make this theatre as good as Bath Theatre Royal – that’s my task.
Also, the Everyman Theatre has a very strong reputation in the community, there’s a lot of outreach work that’s done from here, in terms of education, helping underprivileged children. This is an area that I know nothing about, but it’s an area I’m really, really interested in.
Without the main house being successful and making money, we can’t do the outreach and education work, so I need to learn and make sure it continues to the very high standard it’s currently done to.
The theatre produces a couple of its own shows, such as A Passionate Woman which then go on tour, so we will continue with that. And yes, plays that are in the West End, we’ll still bring here.
There’s a lot of work that doesn’t come here – the challenge with the Everyman Theatre is that it only has 650 seats, so economically it’s quite difficult to get really top shows with big names, because you can’t take the same money. If as a producer, you have the choice of going to Bath Royal Theatre, or Cheltenham, you’ll choose Bath.
But, I believe that I can make a change to this, and that I can find ways to get better shows, with bigger names, that we can bring to the Everyman Theatre.
No – I’ve got shows of my own in the pipeline over the next couple of years, and I don’t know exactly which ones will be coming here, and how we’ll make that work. But, we’re certainly going to try very hard to build on the reputation of Geoffrey Rowe, who’s been here for 10 years, and try to make the theatre more prestigious.
It’s really about the fact that I live locally, and while I split my time between London and here, I do tend to be spending more time here.
I came to Gloucestershire because I have friends who live here, and I genuinely fell in love with it. I absolutely love all of the Stroud valleys where I live and I developed outdoor passions – I love walking, I have my own horses, and I always have something to do here.
So I think it’s just because I love this area and there’s no other theatre that I would run. Also, having produced shows for 25 years, I’d like another challenge – and that challenge is running a theatre.
There are 50 employees here, and hundreds-of-thousands of people come to this theatre every year, so it’s a big responsibility to take it over. I still can’t quite believe it’s actually happened! I still wake up and think ‘Really? You’re going to do that today?’ And I guess that I am!
Hundreds-of-thousands of people come to this theatre every year, so it’s a big responsibility to take it over.
There will be a shift – I hope that we’ll see more new shows come here, before they go to London or on tour. At the moment the theatre tends to receive shows after they’ve been on at the West End for a long time, or when they’ve been touring for a while.
My aim is to get newer shows here first – it’s just trying to make the programme feel more exciting.
No, I produce shows, plays, comedy, straight plays, and musicals – so I do a bit of everything! The trick here is to create a balance of work.
The work in the Everyman’s studio theatre is very important. There are dozens of productions in the studio every year, and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with all of those.
I don’t have a particular favourite. I produced Trainspotting before it became a film; The Vagina Monologues in London, which was very important; I commissioned and produced Yes, Prime Minister after the television show; and I'm just doing a show which is opening shortly in London, with Griff Rhys Jones and Lee Mack, based on Molière's The Miser.
One of my favourite shows is the musical Hairspray, and I have another big tour starting this year. It’s a big show, and somehow or other, I’m really, really hoping to make it work here – I’d love it to come to Cheltenham, but it’s very challenging as it’s such a big show.
You see Hairspray, and you just feel happy! I’m trying to make it work that it could finish its next tour in Cheltenham, before it goes back into the West End in the summer of 2018. So, we’ll wait and see!
I loved it, and it was a great production – we went into the West End two or three times, but I personally don’t want to revisit it. It was an extraordinary experience. I cast Gerard Butler in it 20 years ago, and we had some amazing people in it, but I don’t want to do it again.
I haven’t yet but I’m definitely going to see it!
By Kathryn Godfrey
Friday 03 February 2017
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