There’s no such thing as an average day in my working life because I’m always on the move. Before I came to Chester to direct Alice for Theatre in the Quarter, I was working on a play which toured the South West and after this I’m off to Birmingham to direct episodes of The Archers for BBC Radio 4 (a programme I have been involved in since 1995). Between projects I work from home, in my ‘shed’. an office at the bottom of the garden in Worcester.
Alice is my second project in the city, having directed the Chester Mystery Plays (CMP) last year, so I have got to know Chester pretty well. We’ve been rehearsing at St Mary’s Centre and every day is different. We might be going through the music (all the actors sing and play instruments), rehearsing the detail in a scene or running a series of scenes. As well as working with the actors, I am constantly liaising with the rest of the creative team – writer, designer, musical director, costume makers, lighting designer, stage manager etc. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented people so it’s a joy to see their work coming to fruition. This time it’s even better because so many of the CMP team have been reunited including composer Matt Baker, writer Stephanie Dale and costume designer Paula Cain. Not to mention all the children in the cast, many of whom were in the mystery plays. It’s so good to see them all growing in confidence and skills.
Chester is a friendly place to work. When I was doing the mystery plays, wespent many happy hours in Café 46 in Lower Bridge Street for breakfast and the Brewery Tap, Coach House and the Albion. La Fattoria is a great place to eat – it’s so delightful to find a proper family Italian restaurant in an English city.
Chester is now almost like a second home. I went to the switch on of the Garden Quarter Christmas lights last Friday and bumped into to so many members of the mystery plays cast I almost thought I was travelling in time.
Dress: Rehearsals can be very physical so you don’t wear your best clothes. If I’m going to a meeting or doing a public presentation I have to dress up! What is the favourite part of your job? It’s a kind of miracle that you start with a raw script and a few notes and three weeks later the play is a living, breathing show. I have done a lot of theatre in education, and to be honest some of the most satisfying moments have been watching school children being transformed by the power of theatre.
What is the least favourite part of your job? Paperwork. I also don’t like having to turn actors down when casting for a part and I don’t like being away from home for too long.
What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now? I dream about walking out to bat for England or playing lead guitar for a band.
How do you relax when you are not working? I love walking and watching cricket, football and rugby. I try to see Leicester City play as often as I can and if I get a chance to slope off to New Road in Worcester, one of England’s prettiest cricket grounds , I do.
What is your favourite film? Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King and the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou.
What is your favourite book? Bleak House. I love Dickens for the characters and the sheer breadth of characters and the rich comedy. The Cornish poet Charles Causley is also a particular favourite.
What is your favourite song? Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes?. I also love listening to all kinds of radio – drama, music and comedy.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? My partner suggests George Clooney – on the condition that she can play herself! I think it’s more likely to be Homer Simpson.
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet? No, and I don’t really want it – but having my name read out on Radio 4 as producer or director of a play always takes me by surprise.
●Name: Peter Leslie Wild
●Job: Theatre and radio drama director
●Education: Guthlaxton College, Wigston, Leics; Cardiff University (BA in English, MA in Drama)
●Family: Partner is artist Sheila Farrell; two grown-up children, Emily and Meg
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