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This week our creative producer Fiona Lindsay writes about meeting famous faces many years ago...

Back to the Future


A favourite film trilogy of mine is Back to the Future and, despite watching all three films at least 10 times, they never seem to lose their appeal. Doctor Who has a similar allure and it makes me wonder what it is about time travel (or should that be time and travel) that captivates me.

My childhood was peripatetic and I missed out on many of the basic foundations that make up a solid education. However, the gaps were filled with exposure to other cultures and their stories as, en famille, we followed my dad to wherever in the world he was posted.

Perhaps it’s no accident, then, that I gravitated towards working in a professional world of which travel - both actual, imaginative and virtual - is part and parcel. On endless car journeys my grandmother used to say“the only limit is your imagination”, and hours would be spent reading plays and books about times gone by. I found myself more interested in learning through being and doing than any other form of recall.

Theatre was my first love and I was extremely lucky to grow up professionally at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. The exposure to different worlds and times through the prism of play texts in performance never ceased to excite me and take me on imaginative adventures. My tribe of fellow time-travellers were actors and directors and our time passed balancing the tension that exists between show and business as we strived to make a living.

Recently I had the huge pleasure of working once again with an actor who began his career with the RSC before being swiftly taken up by film and television offers. Seventeen years ago, Richard Armitage and I spent months touring around the UK with a production of The Duchess of Malfi – him playing a minor role whilst understudying the leading male part and me running the on-stage education programme.

We’d meet in stale-smelling green rooms too early in the morning before going on stage to run an interpretive choice session in front of students and teachers. My abiding memory is of Richard talking with a passion about the importance of physicality in performance and demonstrating the effect that his high-heeled shoes had upon how he played his part. Our next professional encounter was in the much more fragrant environment of a dressing room at The Old Vic where I’d invited him to give a filmed interview about his performance as John Proctor in Yaël Farber’s acclaimed production of The Crucible. During the conversation we time travelled back to Salem 1692 and to 1950’s America in the grip of McCarthyism and, although time had passed since we’d last spoken, Richard’s passion for detail in performance remained in place. We made comment about our worlds colliding again and about the coincidence that the film of the production was being captured by another fellow RSC alum: theatre director Robert Delamere.

Robert and I also met for the first time at the RSC – again, about 20 years ago. Robert was hailed as belonging to an exciting group of young, up-and-coming creatives and was making his RSC directing debut at TOP (The Other Place) with a new play by Peter Whelan coincidently starring a young Anna Madeley (now playing opposite Richard Armitage as Elizabeth Proctor). At about that time I began to create and host pre- and post-show occasions that were to be the foundation for what became a thriving RSC Events programme. Robert was always willing and enthusiastic to unravel the creative process in front of audiences and to stay on late after shows and answer demanding and challenging questions from people. His desire to share work was impressive. Six years ago our paths crossed again. In a coffee shop somewhere in central London, along with Tom Shaw, we hatched a plan to try and harness our shared ambition of making the highest quality productions available to the widest possible audience. We’ve been developing this together ever since.

On December 4th 2014 Richard, Robert and I stood chatting at the premiere cinema screening of The Crucible in London. For a moment, it was if time had stood still, but we had all travelled a long way. Back to the Future makes a lot of sense.