An Interview with John R Wilkinson
Talking Heads is coming to the West Yorkshire Playhouse this week. The Mumble managed to catch a wee chat with one of its directors…
Hello John, so where are you from & where do you live? Hello John, so where are you from & where do you live?
John: Hello. I am from Leeds, albeit its murkier backwater – Wetherby to be exact, where I still live. One of the great thing about Talking Heads is all three co-directors are from the North. Well, Amy’s from Lancashire but we’ll forgive her that.
When did you first develop a passion for theatre, and what, for you, makes a good piece of theatre?
John: My mum’s always been involved in light opera, so it probably stems from that. Also, I used to be an avid Masters of the Universe collector when I was little, so imagining all sorts of scenarios with He-Man and Skeletor probably helped as well. A good piece of theatre for me includes various things. There’s got to be a real element of mystery, or discovery if you like, in it. You should leave asking as many questions as you’ve had answered. It should improve your perspective on the world around you. I often talk about productions finding an “active somnolence” – a kind of hypnotic quality. They should call. You should respond. They should soothe and mend you in doing so.
Can you tell us about your studies?
John: I trained at Bretton Hall College and the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds.
You are Director in Residence and Agent for Change at West Yorkshire Playhouse; can you tell us how you got the job & what your role is?
John: I was appointed in October 2017. Aside from directorial responsibilities, the role is designed to support the creation of opportunities for other D/deaf and disabled creatives and setting up opportunities during Ramps on the Moon tours for local D/deaf and disabled artists to introduce themselves to their local theatre.
You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
John: 1 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition)
3. Withnail and I
What does John R Wilkinson like to do when he’s not being creative?
John: Which is most of the time! Let’s see: Well, James Brining and I cry over the current plight of Leeds United. Netflix, Books (Historical Fiction, Sports Biographies) and Cycling. I’ve also just had Botox – in my legs, not my face!
You’re directing Talking Heads at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. What’s exciting about this project?
John: It’s very special for various reasons: It’s the last show in the Courtyard before the Playhouse undergoes redevelopment. It’s also my first time directing in my home theatre, and the opportunity to co-direct with James and Amy is really exciting. We’re each of us working with fantastic, generous actors. As you may know, four of the monologues have already been on tour around Leeds, so it’s great to offer them out to our community. It also means we can present a very different show, putting them all together on stage in one big production.
Do you & the cast socialise outside of rehearsals?
John: Yes, we had a party last Saturday, actually!
What does the rest of 2018 have in store for John R Wilkinson?
John: Immediate priorities? My sister’s getting married at the end of next month and I’m looking forward to the World Cup!
Photography : Anthony Robling
TALKING HEADS IS SHOWING AT THE WYP
JUNE 14th-23rd 2018