A strange meeting in a churchyard sets in motion a chain of events that will shower a young man with money, break his troubled heart and lead him deep into a labyrinth of deception and discovery. TS Theatre Productions present Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations at the Wyvern Theatre on Mon 11 September. We sat down with Sarah Lewis who plays Jaggers and the show’s director Peter Hynds to find out more about the show, the creative process, TS Theatre Productions and more. Read more below.
Hi Sarah, thank you for your time. We are really looking forward to Great Expectations! What first drew you to the piece and why did you want to be involved?
Sarah: I’ve been a member of TS Theatre Productions for years now and I know that anything they do is bound to be exciting and fresh. I have faith in our Director, Pete Hynds, to put together a professional production. Working with the company is always enormously rewarding; it’s challenging but also so much fun. The opportunity to perform at The Wyvern is a big enticement too. I was the assistant director when TS put on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and I was so jealous I didn’t get to go on stage!
Who is your character and how would you describe them?
Sarah: I’m playing Jaggers, the lawyer who holds all the secrets of the protagonists. In the novel, Jaggers is male, as would be expected of lawyers contemporary to Dickens’ writing. When I read the lines though, I was really keen to audition for the role as I loved his chutzpah. Jaggers is ambiguous and could either be an arch manipulator or an altruist. I’ll leave it to the audience to decide what motivates her.
That’s really interesting! How have you approached playing the role?
Sarah: She’s a difficult one! I think she has to have an attitude of complete entitlement and confidence in herself. Pete’s circus-inspired setting has helped as I feel able to properly strut around the stage. I see Jaggers as the Ringmaster, ultimately in control of the action and the players around her. I need, however, to make her believable and part of the story rather than outside of it. It’s a delicate balance and I hope I can find it.
Hi Peter, Who are TS Theatre Productions and what do you do as a company?
Peter: TS Theatre Productions are a company of extremely passionate and talented misfits! When we set up the company in 2011 we wanted to produce theatre that was weird and a bit crazy and that would challenge us and our audiences. That’s always been my aim as a Writer and Director, to challenge and entertain, and to provide something a bit different to the Swindon Theatre scene. We work with both existing and original plays and have taken various pieces around the South West, to London and to the RSC. Our last production at the Wyvern was One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Most recently we performed Four Sunsets (which you might have caught at the Arts Centre last September) at the Reading Fringe Festival and then returned to a sell-out audience in Swindon.
Why did you choose Great Expectations to stage?
Peter: Funny story. A member of the company had been asking me to look at it for about four years and I kept refusing, I thought it wasn’t dark enough or wouldn’t allow for a TS twist. Then I finally read this version and it all fell into place. It’s a heart-breaking, and yet hopeful piece at heart and I thought we could bring our TS fun to it. And who wouldn’t want the chance to direct Miss Havisham, Jaggers, Pip, and Mrs Joe? Just amazing characters.
What’s been your directorial approach to the text and what have been your inspirations?
Peter: I love working on text. I love taking something apart and then putting it back together to make sense for us as a company. I approach everything I do with the same basic principle. What is the story? How can we tell the story? I worked with a director at drama school who put huge emphasis on giving the text the respect it deserved. At the time I thought he was a nightmare, but now I fully appreciate that lesson. If you are working from a script, you need to put the work in.
Photo Credit: TS Theatre
What can audiences expect from the show?
Peter: They can expect an amazingly talented cast who have worked extremely hard. When we started I had a crazy idea about how we would stage it and thankfully the cast have trusted me! We will be telling a well-known story in a way that people maybe won’t expect but I like that and I can’t wait to take the audience along for the ride. We’re really looking forward to returning to the Wyvern and just hope we can do the play and the great Mr. Dickens justice.
What future projects are you working on?
Peter: We are working on several projects at the moment. A fun take on The Wizard of Oz is in the pipeline. We have about ten plays that we would like to read through and we are always on the lookout for new writers and concepts. We are also working on two film projects and a new play called Bliss. The creative scene in Swindon is buzzing at the moment and it’s a privilege to be a part of such an exciting time for the town.
Great Expectations will be at the Wyvern Theatre on Mon 11 September.
For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/GreatExpectations17