Spotlight On… Laura James – Theatre Director

Today’s Spotlight On… is with Laura James, our Theatre Director!

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What does your role at the Wyvern Theatre entail?

As Theatre Director I am responsible for programming all of the shows and events that we have at the Wyvern Theatre and Arts Centre and making sure our programme remains varied, diverse and of a high quality that will attract current and new audiences. I am also in charge of leading our fantastic team of staff and ensuring that they are well supported and feel motivated and engaged with their work in order for us to effectively meet targets and successfully grow the business. Other responsibilities include monitoring our Health and Safety and Training needs, overseeing budgets and regularly reporting back to our Head Office.

How did you feel about taking up the role of Theatre Director this year?

It’s a big step so I was nervous of course, but after 11 years at the theatres I felt it was the right time to push myself and take on a new challenge. I am hugely fond and protective of both Swindon and our venues, and have such respect for all the staff here so I had a strong feeling that I wanted to keep the leadership within our ‘family’. I have very big shoes to fill but hopefully as I settle into the role I’ll be able to make it my own.

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What do you like about both venues?

Cliché as it may sound, the people are very much what make our venues. We have an incredible team of both permanent and casual staff, not to mention our volunteers, without whom we simply wouldn’t be able to function, let alone be successful. What I have always loved about working here is the passion for theatre that everyone has, no matter what role or department they’re working in. That really comes across I think and makes what we do so enjoyable and collaborative. The Wyvern and Arts Centre are both great theatres, intimate spaces which are adaptable for so many different types of productions and events and we’re really lucky that they’re generally in very high demand with both professional touring producers and local community groups.

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What can people expect from our new season of programming?

As always you can expect to see a hugely varied programme, with drama, dance, live music, comedy, musicals and family entertainment all featuring. It’s an exciting time for me having taken over the programming and while I’d like to see some new product come to Swindon, I have to keep in mind what our audiences like and will support.

Do you have a top pick for the season ahead?

The Summer Youth Project is always a yearly highlight for me so I’m hugely excited for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in August. I’m a shameless Harry Potter geek so am also looking forward to Spontaneous Potter at the Arts Centre in October. The Birmingham Stage Company are bringing their production of Tom Gates to us in November which I’m keen to see after the brilliant Horrible Histories, Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie shows that we’ve had recently. Also, I can’t not mention Pantomime, which is coming round so quickly…oh yes it is!

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What is your favourite item from the new food menu?

I’m a carb girl at heart so for me it has to be the delicious Pea & Mint Tortellini. The pasta tastes so fresh and the flavours complement each other wonderfully. It’s satisfying and yet not heavy. I also can’t resist desserts and for all you sweet-tooths I would highly recommend the Warm Sweet Waffles – just divine!

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