Location: A Café in Chelsea
The Bread & Roses Theatre Production and Marketing Manager, Roman Berry, sat down over coffee, with producers Joshua King (who also plays Richard II) and Christian Warwicker and had a candid chat about their theatrical debut RICHARD II, Open The Vault Productions and all things Theatre. Here’s what these passionate emerging theatre makers have to say:
What led you to establishing Open The Vault Productions?
Joshua: I’ve learnt from Drama School that if you make your own work then you’ll have more success.
Christian: And we we’re sitting together at the flat one day during our final year of Drama School and we thought let’s do it, let’s create our own company. So, we started Open The Vault Productions.
Who are the key people behind Open The Vault Productions and it’s ethos?
Joshua: It’s me and Christian who are co-founder and producers of Open The Vault Productions. We settled on the name Open The Vault ‘Productions’…
Christian: …rather than ‘theatre’ because we wanted to grow and expand. We had a short film to begin with, titled Everyone Welcome, we filmed it on one day. We enjoyed the process so much and thought let’s keep going and on to the next one.
Joshua: We really believe of what’s right for the production and invest on people who are right for the production
Christian: …as opposed to getting collaborators for aesthetic purposes. It’s not about gender, race, or certain aesthetic.
Joshua: Especially, working with people who are brilliant and passionate at what they do. There’s a saying from Guillermo Del Toro, about having the right person, for the right role no matter who they are or what they are. What’s really important is what they bring to the project. That’s really exciting.
Christian: But it’s also about collaboration. It’s collaborative and having different ideas that we haven’t thought of, is important. It’s better to have different ideas.
Why did you choose Shakespeare’s Richard II?
Joshua: We love Shakespeare and so we started talking about what play we wanted to do, but I’ve always had Richard II in the back of my mind and I asked Chris to read it and the rest is history.
Christian: So, we thought of Richard II as our first theatrical venture. We picked one of the lesser of Shakespeare’s plays, because we can adapt it and be creative with it, do what we want out of it, in terms of making it relatable and contemporary, it’s perfect.
Joshua: I also really love Richard’s character. Such a well-rounded character. The way we also adapted it is that everyone has something to do. Our Director Joshua Jewkes, describes it as Games of Thrones, meets Thick Of It.
Christian: We approached Joshua Jewkes to be the Director for Richard II. We knew him from our Drama school, through conversation we had a lot in common. When Joshua (King) and I were talking about who should be directing and we just thought he was the great fit. We’ve seen him direct at Drama School and really enjoyed his work.
What attracted you to The Bread and Roses Theatre to debut this production?
Joshua: We first applied for Camden Fringe but we somehow didn't get our venue and dates, so we thought we could do it at the same time.
Christian: So, we knew about Bread and Roses Theatre, having seen performances over time, that it’s always been a great theatre to try out new work, so we approached Rebecca Pryle (The Bread & Roses Theatre Executive Manager) and the rest is history.
Joshua: The theatre happening in London is really important, because it encourages everyone to ‘cut their teeth’ in new work and take risks.
Christian: Edinburgh Fringe is also something to look forward to and aspire to create more work. It’s in a good place right now.
What inspires you in theatre making and why is theatre, a piece of writing or arts in general matters to you?
Joshua: Sometimes, Art or piece of new writing, will either have people hate or love it. That’s their purpose. There should be a debate. That’s what theatre should do. When Ibsen, wrote Ghost, he was critical of middle classes, people hated it at that time. Theatre should pose questions.
Christian: I believe, theatre pushes things forward, push ideas forward, because there are certain concept, certain ideas which were once offensive and showing these things, will have an impact and effect to people.
Joshua: We want people to come out from watching our play or any work, having that human story connection, having the reaction… and that they are affected by it.
Christian: There’s a lot of pieces by Martin McDonagh, that has a lot of offensive stuff in the story line and some people might hate it but they come out affected by it.
Joshua: We love writers like him, because their themes are truthful and surreal…
Christian: …there’s no good or bad guys, the lines get blurred. Nobody is perfect, everyone has flaws. Taking influences from these writers and hoping that we find our own voice through it as well.
Joshua: And we as producers, we want a to do more of a collaborative art form. We believe it’s very important going forward.
What next for Open The Vault Productions and what do you aspire to be as a company?
Christian: We’re very excited for the future. We ‘ve got stuff that we’re writing, but we’re also interested in meeting other writers and collaborating with them.
Joshua: That’s why we’re planning a scratch night event, which will be around the first week of December. By having this event, we can collaborate more and it’s not always about us who’s in the show, but other people to join the company.
Christian: Going forward, it’s about openness and trust. Sometimes, ideas come from a differing view. And I know we don't have all the answers. To easily let go. It’s embracing collaboration.
Joshua: Also, we are an artist driven company and we don't want to invest in things that we don't believe in. We also want to be representative of the industry as a whole. We believe there are 55% of women in the industry, but the major roles are for men. Often, women are very typecast and this needs to change. Chris and I believe, that with this company, we want to be part of the solution and to help push change forward.
Christian: One of the things we ‘re most proud of, during this whole process, is to be able to say, we’ve done it, that we’ve produced a piece of theatre and of course collaborated with the right people along the way.
Call someone out by name: who should see this production?
Christian: Martin McDonagh. I would love to have the chance to work with him.
Joshua: Martin Scorsese!
RICHARD II is currently playing until Saturday 25thof August.
Richard II: Joshua King
Henri Bolingbroke: Melanie Beckley
Duke of York: Hannah Victory
Amurele: Nathan Lister
Willoughby: Elena Clements
Thomas Mowbray/Northumberland: Christian Warwicker
Queen: Lorna Reed
Lord Marshall: Michaela Carberry
John of Gaunt/ Sir Stephen Scroop: Peter Hardingham
Green/Servant: Roisin Moore
Producers: Christian Warwicker and Joshua King