AFTER directing shows in a golden era of success for the old Derby Playhouse, Paul Clarkson is delighted to be part of the current revival at the venue.
Now known as Derby Theatre, home-produced shows have recently been restored under new artistic director Sarah Brigham. The first in-house production, Cooking with Elvis, was well-received and the theatre is following that up with an adaptation of the classic Kes, famously filmed by Ken Loach.
Paul will take two parts in this tale of a 15-year-old who is bullied both at home and at school but who finds an escape when he starts training a kestrel.
Paul says: “For somebody who grew up in the 70s, the film of Kes is imprinted on the brain. There are certain scenes, such as Brian Glover as the football teacher, which bring back such memories. I also read the book as a schoolboy after I was inspired by the film.
“So it will be fascinating to do a stage version of it. I have read the script and it will be really fluid in the way it will be staged. You always worry about moving into another medium something that is so iconic but they have done a fantastic job of it that it will exist in its own right as a stage show and will bring it to a whole new generation. Because, if you mention Kes to people 20 years younger than me, it’s not seared on the brain in the same way.
“Added to that is the fact I’m a big bird watcher and a massive fan of raptors, so it’s almost like a dream job. There’s a bit of football in there too.”
Paul is also excited by the challenge of playing dual roles in the production.
“I’m the newsagent who Billy steals chocolate bars from whilst he’s up ladders and Mr Grice, the headmaster. As the head there’s a great scene where he’s interrogating four really bad boys and this poor little innocent lad comes in to bring a message and they offload all their smoking materials on him.”
Paul belives that despite being written in the 1960s, Kes will still resonate with audiences today.
He says: “I have worked a lot in education and I know that people’s talents aren’t always recognised in the strict structure of the national curriculum and the sausage factory of exams and I think it’s still difficult for young people to investigate parts of their characters and passions within school. The wonderful scene where Billy becomes incredibly articulate when he explains about looking after a kestrel, sums that up.”
Paul hopes that Kes will get the same reaction that some of the hit shows received back in the 1990s whe he was associate director: “I remember the glory days of the wonderful musicals, packed houses and the buzz in the city about what was happening at the theatre. I was fortunate to ride on the coat-tails of that. It’s great that people now think they have a theatre back that’s again programming shows for them,”
Kes can be seem from September 13 to October 5. Call 01332 593939 or go wwww.derbytheatre.co.uk.