WE ARE ALWAYS THERE – AN INTERVIEW WITH STEVE HARPER FROM THEATRE503
我們一直在這裡 – 專訪503劇場文學總監 史蒂夫·哈珀
Theatre503 is an interesting place, said the people who have been there. In both last year and this year, we had two interviews about Theatre503. No matter from the first meeting with Tim Roseman, former artistic director, or recent visit with Steve Harper, Literary Manager, the impression of Theatre503 is always simple, open and honest, which is its unique dramatic way to approach life and world themselves.
503劇場是個很有意思的地方,去過的朋 友總是如是說。去年和今年,我們分別對 503劇場進行了兩次采訪。不管是第一次 與前藝術總監蒂姆·羅斯曼(Tim Roseman) 見面,還是最近對文學總監史蒂夫·哈珀 (Steve Harper)的采訪,空間不大的503劇 場和僅有不到十人的團隊給我們的印象 是:簡 單 、開 放 、坦 誠 。可 簡 單 並 不 代 表 無 趣,而是以503特有的戲劇性,接近生活和 世界本身。
(PI: PERFORMANCE INFINITY / SH: STEVE HARPER)
PI: Please firstly give us an introduction of Theatre503 and the New Writing Project?
SH: Theatre503 is a very traditional fringe theatre in that, it is a 63-seat theatre above a pub. We specialize in new writing, although we also now have a strand entitled “Second Look”, which consists of first time revivals of forgotten classics of the 1980/90s. We have a history of producing debut plays by new playwrights, but work to sustain relationships with writers as they move forward in their careers. We are a non-funded theatre organization in terms of core funding, but have been nominated for and won numerous awards including the Olivier Award for Best New Play (probably the biggest new writing award) one year, which helped established our reputation in the industry for producing high quality plays and productions. We produce 8 to 9 shows a year, 3 of which we produce solely as 503, with the rest being co-productions with incoming companies and individuals.
503劇場是一個傳統的邊緣劇場,它一共有63個座位,就在一間酒吧 的樓上。新寫作項目是我們的強項,同時新的“第二眼”項目也是我們關 注上世紀80、90年代那些被遺忘的經典作品的復興計劃。我們有推廣新 寫作文化的傳統,同時一直保持與作家的聯系。目前還沒有固定的核心 資金支持。不過503有新寫作領域較為重要的獎項,最佳新劇獎(Olivier Award),也使得503成為重要的新寫作場域。我們一年有8到9部作品, 其中3部獨立制作,剩下的與其他團體或公司合作。對我而言,新寫作文化 的最特別之處,是支持剛剛起步的作家,陪伴他們從第一部作品到第二 部,直到更偉大的作品誕生。
PI: In which ways you work with writers and help new writers to mature their ideas?
SH: We work with writers of all levels.
The production we have on at the moment Land of Our Fathers is the outcome of a scheme we run called “503Five”. That is an 18-month residency with Theatre503 during which the chosen 5 emerging playwrights will be offered mentorship, advice and support, culminating in a first draft submission of a brand new play with at least one of those plays being taken to full production. With those writers we have a very intense on- going relationships.
Then we have the writers of all the main shows. We work with many of those writers dramaturgically before, and once the play is confirmed.
What sets 503 apart are our pioneering schemes and initiatives wherein we work with completely new writers in an ongoing way. We receive unsolicited scripts (scripts from writers that we have no knowledge of). We do get back to all of those writers: to some we offer feedback; others we invite in for a meeting or offer them an opportunity of writing or developing a play with us. One program we have is called “Rapid Write Response”. Rapid Write Response is an event in which we invite writers to create a 10-minute short play, inspired by the main show. The nature of the response is left entirely to the writers’ imagination and we choose the best responses to be performed. So, that means there are a number of opportunities for our new writers to meet with actors, directors and have feedback from 503. It’s open at ground level to anybody no matter how limited your experience is. If we feel that you have the talent and an interest in getting involved, we will do our best in one way or another to give you support. The author of our current show Land of Our Fathers – Chris Urch – first came to our attention through a Rapid Write back in 2011.
第一類就是我們所說的“503五作家”。他們常駐劇場18個月,在劇場裡寫 作、探討、舉辦工作坊。目前劇場正在上演的《父輩的土地(Land of Our Fathers)》就出自其中一位作家。這也是503劇場與作家保持一種持續的 親密關系的表現。
除此之外,劇場與完全意義上的新作家進行合作。收到提交的劇本,閱讀 劇本並給予反饋。我們會邀請一些作家來劇場見面,請他們來看我們一 場主要演出,然後圍繞該劇來創作一個10分鐘的小短劇(這個項目叫做 “速寫回應”)。之後會單獨找一天,選擇我們感興趣的作品進行演出。
只要新的作家們有才能,對戲劇感興趣,我們願意提供各種方式的支持, 並保持這種關系。我們的大門對每個想要寫作劇本的人敞開,並不在乎 作家之前的寫作經驗;而是努力觸及有才華的寫作新手們,努力為他們提 供可能的資源。目前主秀的劇作家克里斯·阿奇(Chris Urch)就是從2011 年的“速寫回應”中脫穎而出的作家。
PI: How many scripts do you read per year?
SH: The theatre receives around about 1000 to 1500 unsolicited scripts a year. We also receive scripts from the people we know, for instance, people who work in the space. We also receive many scripts from America, because of the success of The Mountain Top some years ago, so our reach extends far beyond just our little theatre in Battersea.
每年大概收到1000-1500個劇本。另外一部分作品來自我們熟悉的 劇作家。因為劇場前些年的《山巔(Mountain Top)》這樣較為出名的作 品,我們還時常收到一些來自英國以外的國家,例如美國的作品。
PI: This question is about the style of Theatre503. As audience, sometimes we feel each time we walk into 503, you will provide us a “different” show from the previous shows we have seen here. While in some other theatres, we feel their productions are, to some extent, quite similar. Can we say so?
我們總能感覺到503多變的藝術風格,好像每次來503看戲都有不同 的感覺。而不像其他一些劇院,具有較為統一的、可以預見的風格。是這 樣的嗎?
SH: Yes, I would say, hopefully every time you come to 503, what you see is a good show with a high level of quality writing. There is not a “503Style” play. We have produced musicals, historical plays, a wide range of subjects…we feel that for the audience, it’s really exciting for them to come back not quite sure of what kind of play they are about to watch, and we are certainly not delivering the same play or the same style again and again.
的確。我們沒有單一的風格。我們的作品類型涉及較廣,從音樂劇到 歷史劇都有。我們不想設定一個特定的風格。因為對觀眾來說,一定想要 多種不同的體驗。對作家來說,更是要引導他們自己的興趣,寫出他們真 正感興趣的話題。我們不會重復地為觀眾呈現同樣風格的作品。
PI: What kind of audiences you will see usually in the theatre?
SH: It’s a complete mixture. We have a regular local audience who come back again and again to shows but we also have a bigger audience community because of our established media profile and our excellent reputation for high standard productions. We are known as an exciting theatre to go to if you are looking for high quality productions of contemporary, quality new writing.
有本地的社區觀眾,他們也往往會常回來看戲。再就是我們劇場的聲譽 不錯,媒體的關注度也較高,能夠吸引更廣泛的戲劇群體。當然,可能每個 作品不同的風格,也會吸引不同的觀眾。總體而言,是較為混合型的觀眾。
PI: It must be difficult run a theatre without core funding. What are the basic ways in which you are looking for financial support?
SH: Indeed, we have no regular funding. We do receive some funding from the Arts Council for particular projects, but that’s certainly not every project. We also look towards a number of trusts and foundations, as well as private sponsorships from individuals interested in supporting 503 or a particular production, and box office takings are often fed back into future shows. We simply have to explore all avenues of potential revenue and be as creative as possible in our approach to this situation.
的確我們沒有一個常規的核心資金支持。某些特別的項目能夠收到 英國藝術委員會(Arts Council)的支持。我們有一些基金,來自願意支 持劇場或者劇場某個作品的觀眾。我們的票房收入也會再度回歸到作品 中。確實,我們當下的確需要各種渠道來吸引資金。
PI: Many of our Chinese audiences have never been to London or watched a show here. Can you describe what’s a normal day (for you) at 503?
SH: Well, I don’t know if there’s a normal day at 503 (laugh). For me personally, it would involve maybe a meeting with other senior members of the team to talk about the show we have on and the upcoming shows (our weekly programming meeting.) Then I may have a literary meeting, where I’ll have a discussion with the artistic director and other members of the literary team about new plays and projects that I have been looking at and suggesting those that we should pursue. Then potentially there will be a few meetings with individual writers, which could be general introductory meetings or ones related to a specific play. Finally there may be other building related issues that as a core team member I am also often asked to feed into.
我不知道我們有沒有“日常”(normal)的一天(笑)。我們的一天中, 可能會安排與管理團隊見面,了解現在的演出和討論未來一段時間的演 出計劃。再就是與新作家的會談。他們有時候會過來打個招呼熟悉劇院, 或者來商討為某個作品合作的事情。而作為文學方面的負責人,我要閱讀 收到的劇本,與藝術總監和文學團隊的人交換意見。此外,我還可能去趟 票房,了解收入情況等等。因為經營一家劇院,需要照顧這些方方面面。
PI: Any suggestions for the new writers?
SH: I think the most important thing is to not be scared of the writing. Not to be too self-critical too early; to write something rather than think about writing something. Write about the subject or the issues that interest you in the form you wish to write them in. Be brave, and be confident about the quality of your writing. Everybody starts somewhere, and everybody develops in different ways and at different rates, so be prepared to be thinking in the long term, not necessarily just about the play you have written but the many more plays you intend to write. Be open to engaging with theatres in many different ways.
最重要的是,不要被寫作這件事嚇到。初期不要對自己太嚴苛。開始 寫而不要總是想著開始寫。以你想要的方式寫你感興趣的話題。勇敢一 些 ,自 信 一 些 ,因 為 每 個 人 都 有 起 點 ,然 後 漸 漸 寫 得 更 好 。所 以 ,現 在 開 始 寫 ,發 出 去 ,設 法 得 到 回 饋 ,然 後 繼 續 !
Agreed interview time passed quickly. Steve chatted with us for ten more minutes about the opportunity of cooperation between the UK and China, then he looked at his watch and smiled to us, said “I’m sorry that I need to pick up my children back to home from school now, and you are always welcome to 503.” Looking at his smile, I whispered in my heart: what is dramatic in the end? In Theatre503, dramatic can be daily fragments from ordinary people, and it can also be a significant event recorded in the history. Next time, when we come into 63-seats Theatre503 built above a bar, what can we encounter? I cannot help expecting unforeseeable unexpectedness.