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‘It’s an opportunity to celebrate live theatre’: James Hillier directs Sunnymead Court at the Tristan Bates Theatre

The director chatted to Emma Clarendon about Sunnymead Court by Gemma Lawrence, playing at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 22 September 2020.

Hi James, it’s fantastic to hear that Sunnymead Court is going to be performed on stage. How are you feeling about it?
It’s a dream that we are able to be making theatre, although in quite a different way. To be collaborating with a group of actors and creatives towards a common goal is deeply satisfying.

How are you finding creating a piece of theatre during these new circumstances?
There are new rules to adhere to but there will always be restrictions or parameters during any creative process. You need to lean into these and use them to fuel the work rather than inhibit it.

For those who don’t know could you explain a bit more about what Sunnymead Court is about?
It’s a beautiful, uplifting, funny play about two women who are looking to make a connection during lockdown. It’s innovative and tries new things. Gemma is a very exciting new voice.

How did you come across Gemma Lawrence’s play?
Sunnymead Court was written for the Tristan Bates Theatre after I was asked to create a socially distanced theatre experiment by Mitchell at The Actors Centre. I gave Gemma and producer Jack Holden a shout as we were due to be working on another of Gemma’s plays at the time. We talked through lots of ideas; what we wanted to see on a stage right now, how we wanted a play to make us feel and how to make an audience feel comfortable about being back in a theatre. Then Gemma went away and wrote something spectacular.

What was it in particular that made you want to  be involved in bringing Sunnymead Court to the stage? It’s an opportunity to celebrate live theatre, work with an amazing group of creative people and bring joy and positivity into people’s lives.

How would you describe the play? Unmissable!!

By Emma Clarendon

Sunnymead Court will run at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 22 September until 3 October.


from News, Reviews and Features – My Theatre Mates

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