Producer’s view from American play “The Mountaintop:” By Stephen Hall, last few days at Frank Collymore Hall
“The Mountaintop” is showing at the Frank Collymore Hall, with some tickets still available for this coming weekend – on the 18th,19th and 20th of April at 7.30pm. Interestingly, tickets can be purchased online http://www.ticketpal.com/ and printed on your own printer. The system works very well and is a great step forward for Barbados. No more long queues and then finding there are no tickets for the dates you want at the outlet!
- Stephen How has this latest journey (The Mountaintop) been for you?
Melissa It’s been long, it has given me something positive and creative to focus on while I was nursing my father through 3 years of cancer, but has been deeply fulfilling. I love putting all the ingredients together. I have a vision each time and so pick the right directors and then suggest the actors, but 9 times out of 10 the director likes my suggestions of casting, so this is just serendipity! I love working with company director Peter Lewis on all the technicals and the set. We collaborate. Everybody has to have a dream, so to make the vision of a play a reality, is very satisfying.
Melissa This time around we’ve been 50% Barbadian and English on stage. Also, this is by an American playwright and not a European classic, plus, this year we have greater outreach. We are working with Amanda Cumberbatch from Tiger Eye to provide workshops for young women in association with the American Embassy and Scotiabank and Republic Bank sponsored the playwriting workshops.
- Stephen What would it take for you to bring 2 or 3 plays to the stage, each year?
Melissa I have been asked to do this. Not much. I love doing this. Peter Lewis, the other director of Gale Theatre, and I are ready to develop. Two way cultural exchanges start there. It will need a bit more funding, but not huge amounts. I believe there are better incentives in place now for people considering donating/sponsoring us. We would like to still unite talent, but broaden our choices of plays to include Caribbean works as well as some music ones.
- Stephen When the Empire opens (one day!) with around 290 seats, will that be easier to fill for a longer run?
Melissa Yes, Barbados needs a few, smaller venues, to do exactly that. That’s what they have at UWI. Having said this, we also have a history and relationship with the Frank Collymore Hall (FCH) and their wonderful manager, Fran Wickham Jacobs. I don’t know. Maybe we still open in FCH and then move to another new venue…
- Stephen Did you decide on a two hander purely to keep the actor’s salaries costs down?
Melissa Not to keep the actors salaries costs down, but the entire costs down, (laughs) but it’s not my driving motivation. I was brought up on the world’s great peace activists like Martin Luther King and Ghandi and Robert Kennedy and just naturally wanted to do a play about King that was well written and made me laugh and cry.
- Stephen What are your next plans for theatre here in Barbados?
- Stephen Thank you for the opportunity of speaking with you. Everyone is clearly enjoying your play from the first weekend, so anyone else wanting to experience Broadway/West End quality theatre on the island, had better buy their tickets as soon as possible! Here’s looking forward to your next play at the FCH.