Wednesday 18 September 2019

Interview with Cheltenham Playhouse’s chairman

A venue that’s steeped in history and offering an impressive programme of theatre, music and film, SoGlos heads backstage in this interview with Cheltenham Playhouse’s chairman, Malcolm Ball.

Boasting a jam-packed programme of community theatre productions, live music, and film screenings, Cheltenham Playhouse remains an integral part of the town’s cultural scene.

Going behind-the-scenes, SoGlos discusses all-things theatre with the chairman Malcolm Ball, discussing his love of theatre, favourite production, and what’s in store for Cheltenham Playhouse.


Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your passion for theatre?

It was really grammar school where I was bitten by the acting bug, and then in the 1980s I set up a non-professional theatre company with three friends, who managed to get a one-night slot for a show at Cheltenham Playhouse.

That show was the start of a 30-year association with the theatre and I think it’s something that brings life skills, confidence and friendships.

How long have you been directing plays for?

Since about 1982 and if I’m honest, I was pretty rubbish when I started! But now having watched hundreds of plays, I’ve learnt a great deal.

When I direct now, I imagine I’m in the audience and I want the story to unfold in front of me, provoking an emotion of some sort whether that’s laughter, anger or sadness.

What makes Cheltenham Playhouse a unique venue?

There are very few such beautifully equipped community theatres in the UK, where small professional or community performers can stage at a pretty reasonable cost.

We seat just under 200 in our tiered auditorium and patrons love the great view and intimate atmosphere. Also, the friendly and attentive staff are mainly all volunteers.

What future productions would you like to see at Cheltenham Playhouse?

That’s a hard one! Over the years we have staged some great musicals and hard-hitting plays.

Recently, I have been to visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I would love to see Paines Plough’s production of Every Brilliant Thing or Growth, which were both stand-out shows for me.

What is your favourite production of all time?

I was so blown away by Dan LeFranc’s play The Big Meal at the Ustinov Theatre in Bath, I decided to direct it myself at Cheltenham Playhouse a year later.

What can visitors expect from Cheltenham Playhouse in the future?

Well, I can’t give too much away but the trustees and the team are busy planning.

The arts landscape is forever changing and it’s only right we look to provide a platform for the staging of improv, dance, arthouse cinema, and a great selection of plays and musicals.


For more information, see Cheltenham Playhouse, call (01242) 522852, or visit cheltplayhouse.org.uk directly.

By Sophie Bird

© SoGlos
Thursday 09 November 2017

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