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Malvern bard’s backing by star
THE first writer-in-residence at Malvern Theatres comes complete with star approval.
Nick Wilkes’ first play in the role will be Elysian Fields this autumn – and it will feature the instantly recognisable tones of Simon Callow.
The actor is best known for his roles in Shakespeare and Dickens plays and films, and Nick says he “broke all protocol” at the theatre by handing him a script in the hope he would get on board.
Callow said he liked it but didn’t love it, so set Nick the challenge to write something that caught his heart – and Elysian Fields was it.
“One must take off your hat to him for supporting theatre of all forms,” says Nick, who also hopes the high-profile involvement will boost ticket sales.
In the current climate, Nick feels more theatres are being “forced to be creative” as there is less touring content available.
In answer to this, the writerin- residence programme was created following discussions with the venue’s chief executive Nic Lloyd and two further plays will follow in the next 18 months.
“Malvern Theatres is a tremendous venue regionally but it doesn’t really have any inhouse, professional productions.
It’s a big step forward for the theatre and a giant leap for me.
“It’s very exciting because we have theatre coming from within Malvern Theatres and the chance to create some money for the building when arts funding is thin throughout the country.”
He said it was a challenge but one he was looking forward to.
“The general public will always go and see a play they have seen – new theatre is quite hard to sell but I passionately believe it is very important,” he said.
The first production sees the central character, Stephen Fields, having the worst day possible.
Although he wakes in an unfamiliar place, he feels fitter, healthier, and more relaxed than he has for years but he doesn’t know how he got there and faces the prospect of never leaving.
“It has been hard writing this one. It deals with issues of life and death that you don’t often talk about out loud.”
But there will be laughs along the way, too. “I hope when the audience exits they feel refreshed, fulfilled, optimistic and a little wistful all at the same time,” said Nick.
Nick trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and he has 10 previous productions under his belt as Malvern Bard since 2007 and has penned a total of 60 plays in 13 years.
Elysian Fields runs from Tuesday to Saturday, September 17 to 21, in the Festival Theatre.
Visit malvernbard.com or malvern-theatres.co.uk.
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