A Conversation with Simon Ferry (+audio)

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In the second monthly Conversation at BATS Theatre, actor and director Simon Ferry talked about his time running Centrepoint Theatre and his journey from a rural background to the world of theatre…

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In the second monthly Conversation at BATS Theatre, actor and director Simon Ferry talked about his time running Centrepoint Theatre and his journey from a rural background to the world of theatre and film.

Ferry says he had two goals when he took up the Associate Director role at Centrepoint. "I wanted it to be sought after. Both by audiences and practitioners. And I wanted the theatre to be self sustaining, to be able to more strongly determine our own direction and destiny."

In a conversation with Christian Penny, Associate Director of Toi Whakaari, Ferry shares his work, motivations and dreams. The audience was then invited to join the conversation.

  • Listen to the Conversation with Simon Ferry.
  • In the second monthly Conversation at BATS Theatre, actor and director Simon Ferry talked about his time running Centrepoint Theatre and his journey from a rural background to the world of theatre and film.

    Ferry says he had two goals when he took up the Associate Director role at Centrepoint. "I wanted it to be sought after. Both by audiences and practitioners. And I wanted the theatre to be self sustaining, to be able to more strongly determine our own direction and destiny."

    In a conversation with Christian Penny, Associate Director of Toi Whakaari, Ferry shares his work, motivations and dreams. The audience was then invited to join the conversation.

  • Listen to the Conversation with Simon Ferry.
  • Simon Ferry is a freelance actor and director. He was selected as artist in residence at Shakespeare's Globe Centre in London in 2004. His solo show Lullaby Jock premiered this year at Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North, where he was artistic director for the last five years. His film work includes Magic and Rose and Out of the Blue.

    Ferry told of the research into attracting a youth audience at Centrepoint, which revealed that the audience saw it as "a place where my Nana goes". To counter this they launched, The Dark Room, a small second space to develop work and younger audiences. The marketing was viral and the audience was small but loyal. "We text them and they come!" and they are starting to spill over into the main stage"

    Ferry also reveals how Centrepoint set goals to reduce their funding dependency and the importance of moving from a 'give me the money' relationship towards a more collaborative approach with funders.

    He speaks of the trap of dependency on funding. "It's a huge attitude you can get stuck in - I am dependant! I am completely dependant on someone else to let me do my thing. We've had thirty years of that type of relationship. And it's been hard to break."

    When asked what he thought would be the effect of a total cut in public funding he said there would be an outcry, but only from the artists.

    "I think sometimes we like to think theatre is important, and deep down I think it is, but if I'm not connecting then it's not important, it's not in peoples hearts, minds and lives. And if it disappeared, no big worries it'll come back in some other form, and that sometimes is not such a bad thing"

    On the last Monday of each month Christian Penny, Head of Directing and Associate Director - Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, interviews leading theatre makers about their work, motivations and dreams and invites conversation from the audience.

    Conversation producer Briar Monro says the theatre sector is calling for better critical dialogue and thinking around the work.

    "Practitioners and audiences are frustrated at the level discussions are [or aren't] reaching at other public forum, audiences are asking for greater access to the process and purpose of the artists. If theatre is to survive we have to increase the level of dialogue with each other and the audience," says Briar.

    The next Conversation is with actor, director and producer Paul McLaughlin at BATS Theatre on Monday 29 September at 7pm.

    Paul is a graduate of Otago University (B.A) and completed post-graduate papers in Community Theatre, Directing and Playwrighting. After a year in Gisborne as a QE2 Arts Council Artist in Residence - (directing/producing two site-specific Shakespeares amongst other works) he then spent two years at Toi Whakaari/The NZ Drama School, graduating in 1996 (Dip. Professional Drama [Acting]).

    For the last 11 years he has been working continuously, mainly as a highly sought-after stage actor. Paul has appeared in over 30 theatre productions, in locations such as Dunedin, Brisbane, Christchurch, Ruatoria, Nelson, Gisborne and Wellington.

    In 2004 he won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Actor of The Year for his stunning portrayal of the title role in 'Albert Speer'. Paul also works regularly in NZ film and television. With over twenty film/TV credits to his name, the most enduring have been core-cast roles in the TV2 drama 'Jacksons Wharf', 'Insiders Guide to Happiness' and the hit TV1 comedy 'Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby' as hapless principal Roger Dasent.

    "Paul McLaughlin is a writer's dream. In Gormsby, no matter how pathetic his character was on the page Paul had the intuitive gifts and courage to make him truly wretched and somehow likeable. He was fabulous!" - Tom Scott

    Some of Paul's stage credits include 'Cabaret', 'Macbeth', 'Fool for Love', 'Mouth', 'She stoops to Conquer', 'Speed-the-plow', 'The Love of Humankind', 'Oxygen', 'The Bach', 'Drawer of Knives'`, and the Pullitzer Prize winning stage sensation 'Doubt' (Chch Production of the Year 2006). Paul also tours 'Peninsula', Gary Henderson's profound new play. Since it's World debut at the Christchurch Festival in 2005, 'Peninsula' has featured at The Brisbane Arts Festival and The Nelson Arts Festival 2006.

    More information

    Conversation is on at BATS on the last Monday of each month at 7pm. For more details, or to go on the Conversation mailing list, contact Briar on briarmonro@clear.net.nz

    11/09/08

    Written by

    The Big Idea Editor

    12 Sep 2008

    The Big Idea Editor

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