1. David Lan: Career Path

    02:26

    from Victoria and Albert Museum / Added

    104 Plays / / 0 Comments

    I got into the theatre as a very young person; I got interested when I was about 11, 12 in conjuring. I started as a kid doing magic shows for kid' s parties, I hate to think what they were actually like, but at the time they seemed really rather brilliant. I started working with a puppet company, a marionette company, sort of semi-professional company and then I moved to another totally professional marionette company that I was working with in my holidays. Then I started working in a local theatre, the university theatre had a very good workshop and I used to go and work there in the holidays painting sets and things. What I really wanted to do was be an actor and when I left school I trained as an actor for a couple of years at the university in Cape Town and then I started writing plays. I realised pretty quickly I didn' t really want to act, actually I' d quite like to act now, but then I realised I didn' t really want to do it. I was writing plays and I came to England, for various reasons, but one of the reasons I came was because - we' re now talking about the early 70s - and the focus of - I mean there are two big in European theatre - in the English speaking theatre the focus is either London or New York. I came to London. I did various other things as well, I trained as a social anthropologist and I did fieldwork, and so on and I did that for a number of years. But I continued writing for theatre. I was very lucky because when I was really quite young - my early 20s - my plays were picked up by the Royal Court, done in the theatre upstairs and the main house at the Royal Court while I was working as an academic and doing all that. Then I finished the academic work and I was still writing in the theatre and I started working in television, mostly documentaries, and so on mostly writing them and directing them a little bit. And then found my way back to what I' d always wanted to do, which was directing in the theatre. Then ridiculously quickly slightly alarmingly quickly, after I started directing I got the job of running this place and I' ve really just been doing that ever since.

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    • David Lan: Audience's experience at the Young Vic

      02:01

      from Victoria and Albert Museum / Added

      85 Plays / / 0 Comments

      I guess the simplest way of saying it is that what I’m interested in, as artistic director of the company, is the shows that we create and the relationship between those shows and the audience, everything we do is about the moment at which you bring the show and the audience together and that’s the only thing that matters. It’s the coming together of one group of people who have prepared something and another group of people who are prepared to receive that, whatever it is, whatever the show is. So it’s all about that moment and the only thing that matters is what happens in that moment. It’s nothing to do with literature, it’s nothing to do with what happens in the universities and the study of plays, it’s just about experience. So we’re very interested here in the values of performance. We think of what we do not as plays but as shows. I’m as interested in the way a play is presented to an audience, is directed, is conceived, is given to an audience as I am in the play itself. Which is not to say that writers are not important – writers of course are tremendously important. In fact, writers are the most important thing – of course they are – we know that. But there’s no point in having a wonderfully imaginative piece of writing if the play’s not wonderfully produced. By produced I don’t just mean how it’s directed, but also the relationship between the show and the building within which it happens, the way the audience is received into the theatre, everything about the experience, everything that happens when the audience comes into the building. So I think – I’m not saying we’re unique in this, not by any means – I mean, most people, not everybody thinks in these terms, but we’re particularly interested in the total experience.

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      • David Lan, Artistic Director, 'A Christmas Carol'

        01:53

        from Victoria and Albert Museum / Added

        84 Plays / / 0 Comments

        Q: What does the South African setting bring to the story? DL: I think the main thing that it brought was the kind of immediacy that the story must have had when it was originally published. Because – and one of the reasons why Mike and I really fell for the idea very quickly was because if you transpose the Victorian setting with the very extreme disparities of poverty and wealth right up against each other, and put it in South Africa now, it fits very, very well, firstly. And secondly what also happens, what frequently happens at a time when people have got wealthy very quickly through a big social or political or historical change, like it happened in England through the middle part of the 19th century, is you get this real moral struggle amongst people about just who they are and what their responsibilities to other people are. And Scrooge in the original story, in the original Dickens, is a man who has distanced himself morally from his community. And the same sort of situations and the problems that arise are very, very common in South Africa now because some people have made an enormous amount of money very fast and they want to hold onto it and the only way they can hold onto it is if they deny the links of kinship that are very, very powerful and this causes all sorts of real dilemmas, both for the people who are trying to keep the money and people that are trying to get it off them. So one of the things that’s selling it in South Africa now gave us was a way of re-thinking this story so that it was as if it had been written yesterday. The reality of the tensions of the story were very clear, very powerful.

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        • David Lan: A chance to do something new

          01:14

          from Victoria and Albert Museum / Added

          23 Plays / / 0 Comments

          I try and run theatre so that every show we do does two things. One is it’s got to be a really good show – that’s the most important thing – and it’s got to be a really good show which attracts an audience. But the other thing is it’s got to give somebody, principally the director, but other people as well, the opportunity to do something they haven’t done before, whether it’s the younger director working in a bigger space, with more rehearsal, a bigger company, bigger resources or whether it’s a really distinguished director like, for example, Luc Bondy, who’s an associate here, Luc did his first English language production with us, and so on. Always trying to do something which has never been done before. Doctor Faustus – 2002 - Now Faustus, what wouldst thou have me do? Faustus: I charge thee, wait upon me whilst I live, to do whatever Faustus shall command, be it to make the moon drop from her sphere or the ocean overwhelm the world. - I am a servant to great Lucifer and may not follow thee without his leave.

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          • WOZZECK In Focus: David Lan

            00:51

            from English National Opera / Added

            115 Plays / / 0 Comments

            This May Carrie Cracknell presents a powerful new staging of Berg's 20th century masterpiece. David Lan (Artistic Director at the Young Vic theatre) talks about Carrie Cracknell. Performances 11-25 May. Tickets from £19 eno.org #ENOWozzeck

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