Director is a man of many connections

Director Peter Gill in rehearsals for The Breath of Life, Lyceum Theatre February 16-26
Director Peter Gill in rehearsals for The Breath of Life, Lyceum Theatre February 16-26

DIRECTING The Breath of Life as part of the David Hare season at Sheffield Theatres, Peter Gill knows what it is like to have a festival devoted to your own work.

In 2002 four plays of his were presented in the Crucible and Crucible Studio.

This time all three Sheffield theatres are being given over to the work of one playwright and the fact that he has the opportunity to direct in the Lyceum was one of the attractions for Gill in returning to Sheffield.

“It was a combination of things,” he said. “Knowing that Daniel (Evans) and Thea (Sharrock) were directing the others, I wanted to be part of that and particularly to support Daniel in his second year.”

The now artistic director acted in one of the Gill plays in 2002 and Sharrock served as assistant director to Gill early in her career.

“I know David Hare, of course, but I have never done one of his plays before, although we have been colleagues as associate directors of the Royal Court,” he said.

But then Peter Gill seems connected to everyone in the business, evidenced over lunch in Crucible Corner where he greets seemingly everyone who comes through the door, not just those connected with the Hare productions but also members of the Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Company who are rehearsing here.

The playwright and director enjoys nurturing young talent and mentions Sheffield’s Lucy Osborne, designer of Plenty in the Crucible Studio, who worked on his production of The Aliens at The Bush.

And incidentally artistic director of The Bush Josie Rourke’s first job was assisting him on The York Realist and she went on to direct Kick for Touch in that Peter Gill season here in 2002.

Rufus Norris, who directed Small Change, is another to have gone on to great things.

“I have been able to bring in a young composer (Christian Mason) and designer (Alex Eades) on The Breath of Life,” he announces proudly.

On the other hand he also values the opportunity of working with experience in his cast of Patricia Hodge and Isla Blair.

“It’s good to see two leading ladies of seniority playing off each other rather than in supporting roles,” he says.