"It’s a really exciting time to be in Birmingham and The REP is a big part of that": Meet REP Foundry Artist Will Jackson
What made you first want to create theatre?
I was really lucky when I was little and my mum took me to see Cats in London. There was a bit when Old Deuteronomy (who's this really old, mangy king of the cats) came through the audience and shook my hand! It blew my mind that he was even allowed to do that. Since that moment, I have always tried to find new ways of breaking the rules and recreating the magic that I felt when I was younger.
I'm a theatre-maker and a director. Sometimes you might catch me writing and occasionally even acting. I love trying a variety of approaches when making work and working in different disciplines. I've worked on new writing, cabaret, stand up, improv, musicals and opera. Within all of these, music – whether live or pre-recorded – and comedy play an important part. Although I haven't worked with cats... yet...
What excites you most about being a REP Foundry artist?
It's a really exciting time to be in Birmingham. Culturally, it's always been an exciting city but I feel like it's beginning to make some real waves and The REP is a big part of that. Being chosen to be represented as one of their emerging artists is a huge honour. REP Foundry has churned out some incredible artists with work that I really admire and getting to be part of that same legacy is really exciting.
The thing I'm most excited about though is getting to collaborate with the other artists on this year's Foundry. They're all amazing and I can't wait to get to know them, learn from all of their different styles and approaches and start creating stuff!
If you could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be, and why?
OK... So on my shortlist I've got... Zoë Coombs Marr, Ruth Bratt, Alistair McDowell, Liam Steel, Lucy Prebble, Matthew Warchus, Emma Rice and Bijan Sheibani. These are all artists that have really inspired me and I'd love to have even a glimpse of how they work, let alone collaborate with them. Also four companies who always make fabulous stuff are Little Earthquake, Kill The Beast, Fat Rascal and The Wardrobe Ensemble. I'd love to make something with them too.
But… my absolute dream is to be behind the Scissor Sisters jukebox musical. They're my favourite band. Their music is so theatrical and exciting and I'd purely do it just to meet Jake Shears - I'm not joking! If Phyllida Lloyd can do it with ABBA, anything's possible.
Who or what in theatre inspires you most?
I am always most inspired by theatre that finds new ways to interact and engage with audiences. When you're writing or devising something new you've got to ask: why does this need a live audience? If it would be a better film, TV show or radio play then it shouldn't be done on the stage.
The punters are the people who are usually paying your wages and as a theatre-maker you've got a responsibility to make an exceptional event that's not only worth the ticket price but also worth the bus fare in and maybe even a babysitter. So whenever I see a show that really connects with an audience and makes them the priority I always come away excited and thinking about what sort of thing I want to make next.
Also, I'm always blown away by lighting designers. They can turn something from mediocre to incredible with just a few lights. The technical rehearsal is when the magic in theatre really happens. When you see the actors on set with the lighting for the first time - it all suddenly becomes very real.
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