• Sara Lamerton

Be bold, be brave, and believe.

When accomplished professionals implore you to be brave and keep going, it gives you hope that you’re not totally deluded and irrational to have dreams and aspirations!

On Thursday we were extremely fortunate to meet yet another crucial cog in the well-oiled theatrical machine that is the Theatre Royal Plymouth (TRP). As a producing theatre that supports the production of new, innovative plays, it’s become apparent during our time on the Bloggers & Critics Scheme just how socially conscious and forwarded thinking TRP actually is.

So when we met with Hugh Borthwick, TRP’s Production Manager, it was a real opportunity to find out more about the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring such an action-packed calendar of events and creative opportunities for new and emerging artists, as well as established shows and world-wide sensations to life.

Confident and self-assured, Hugh projected an image of a calm, controlled and articulate man who’s both modest and sure of himself, yet someone you probably wouldn’t want to mess with! Unlike other people we have had workshops with over recent months, he greeted us with no plan or preconceived agenda. He kept the session open for free-flowing discussion and made sure to answer our, (my) sometimes nosey and dirt-digging, questions with openness and professionalism.

Discussing a range of topics from what the day-to-day life of a Production Manager actually looks like, to the controversial history of TRP’s journey in Plymouth since its birth in 1982, and what makes working in the industry challenging and rewarding, Hugh even managed to segway politics and topical social issues seamlessly into the conversation at crucial moments; although that’s not necessarily hard in our current climate, I guess.

Leaving personal opinions aside about particular shows, Hugh wasn’t shy in coming forward regarding what evokes pride and keeps him motivated, alongside what he finds most challenging about the delicate balancing act in a sometimes fraught environment that is a live production setting, especially when you have so many cooks simultaneously baking cakes over various platforms.

Hugh clearly works hard, often long hours, and is a very respected member of the team who strives for excellence. Highlighting what motivates him personally, and the theatre in a wider context, it’s clear that there’s a conscious push towards community engagement, which was also highlighted during our last workshop with Ben Lyon-Ross, TRP’s Talent Development Producer. It may not be immediately obvious or apparent to someone merely glimpsing aspects of the theatre’s work from the outside, but TRP actively involves and collaborates with a wide and diverse spectrum of the community making creativity increasingly accessible to ‘everyday’ people, whilst supporting emerging creative talent that bring thought-provoking and wildly original content to Plymouth, who then often successfully take this further afield.

It has been a privilege to meet a mere handful of the people involved in some of this groundbreaking work, and, what I will remember most and take away with me from the hour we spent in Hugh’s company was his message to keep going, to be brave and bold, to push for what we believe in, and to strive to make things better in whatever form that may take for us.

So thank you, Hugh. I will aim to do just that.

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