Light fantastic project as Ruth settles into new home at Sheffield Lantern Theatre - VIDEO

Ian Soutar talks to Ruth Carney about her plans as she gets set to become the new artistic director of the Lantern Theatre

FORMER associate director of Sheffield Theatres Ruth Carney is to become the new artistic director of the Lantern Theatre as the venue in Nether Edge announces its second professional season.

Ruth Carney, Artistic Director for The Lantern Theatre, Sheffield. Photo by Dean Leivers.

Ruth Carney, Artistic Director for The Lantern Theatre, Sheffield. Photo by Dean Leivers.

Carney will take up the position in July, taking over from Martin Derbyshire who will become creative producer for the venue along with Matt Risby.

“The three of us will work together to move the project forward,” she said. “We each have particular strengths. I will direct our second production in October, leaving Martin to concentrate on the theatre itself and other elements of the programme with Matt responsible for film, comedy and music.”

Carney is already strongly connected with the bijou Victorian theatre in Kenwood Park Road which is the base of CAPA, the theatre academy she established after leaving Sheffield Theatres, and having directed the company’s inaugural production, Order, early this year.

She has recently worked as associate to director Matthew Warchus on Ghost the Musical both on the West End and Broadway following previous collaborations with Warchus that included Lord of the Rings and Our House - the Madness Musical. At the Crucible she directed Sisters and Confessions of a City.

“It was a stroke of luck being able to direct Order and I really loved being in that space and feeling the audience all around and the community that the theatre has. I like the way people stay in the bar afterwards and have a drink,” said Carney. We have pencilled in productions over the next two years with three or four of our own each year.”

The second professional in-house production will be Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down by Doncaster playwright Richard Cameron, best known for The Glee Club, one of six plays he has written for the Bush Theatre in London which transferred to the West End and went on national tour.

He has also written for the National Theatre and for TV including the award-winning Stone Scissors Paper.

Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down, which won The Independent Theatre Award 1990 and a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival, is about three women in the Don Valley living in abusive relationships with the same man. “I like issue-based pieces and this ticks a lot of boxes for me,” said the director.

Cameron will also participate in a new writing project to unearth promising writers from the South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire areas.

He will be one of three established writers as their mentors, along with Sheffield’s Rony Robinson and Simon Burt from Wakefield (a graduate of once of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme once of the Royal Court Young Writers’ ProgrammeRoyal Court Young Writers Programme) who will mentor the writers to be chosen in September from idea through to performance at the Lantern next June.

“It’s not necessarily about young talent, they can be any age,” pointed out Carney. “I know how hard it is to create new work and get it performed and my contacts and my knowledge can help.”

The second season will include touring work from Hull Truck with The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, while Made In China, associate company of the National Theatre Studio, will bring their performance of We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?) to the Lantern fresh from previews at Battersea Arts Centre as part of a short national tour, and Fine Time Fontayne in a new two-handed version of Stephen Lowe’s original adaptation of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

“Creating links with other companies around the country will be important,” added Carney. That will also involve taking Lantern’s productions out on tour.

“I’m particularly looking forward to building on the phenomenal success of the Lantern’s first season. I have spent a number of years as a freelance Director and as an Associate Director and the experiences have been thrilling. But I am now keen to have a career at one venue, develop its programming and educational offerings to the people of Sheffield and beyond.”