Just two years ago a new company arrived at hj1act but the force behind it was no stranger. Paula Clifford is a member of the hj1act team [meet her HERE] and together with husband Derek, have brought new writing and new energy to our festival with RWB Productions. And for those readers who aren’t local to Swindon, RWB stands for Royal Wootton Bassett, a positive hotbed of local theatrical activity and home to Derek and Paula. Gearing up for their third year at hj1act with a brand new play, we managed to grab a few precious moments of this busy lady’s time to chat with her recently.
hjHQ: Hi Paula! Tell us about RWB Productions and how it all started.
PAULA: RWB Productions was formed to present an original script about WW1 at hj1act 2014. The group is run by myself and my husband Derek who wrote our first entry. We had firm ideas about how the play should be staged and decided to form our own group to perform the script at Festival. It was amazing to see something you had nurtured come to life. The cast and crew did us proud and to our delight the play won best original production and gained nominations for dramatic achievement, technical endeavour and best actor. It was a great start to the festival experience for RWB Productions.
hjHQ: It was definitely a memorable start to your festival experience! For those who missed this poignant, powerful play, read more HERE.
hjHQ: Inspired by your success you came back the following year, tell us about that.
PAULA: In 2015 the ladies of RWB performed ‘Moonwillow’, a script which I adapted for the stage from a ghost story written by one of our actresses. The production was not only nominated for Original Production and Dramatic Endeavour but also, enhanced by its sound-scape, lighting and smoke effects, won the Matthew Herring Award for best technical achievement. [Read more HERE]
hjHQ: So what’s it like entering hj1act and how much festival experience do you have?
PAULA: hj1act 2014 wasn’t my first festival experience having directed and acted with the Clarendon Players for over 15 years. Performing or directing at hj1act is only part of the festival experience for me. Meeting new entering companies and being reunited with returning ones plus the enjoyment of watching new writing of various genres is always a pleasure. The adjudicator makes it a learning experience too.
hjHQ: Ah yes, the adjudications! How do you view this aspect of the festival?
PAULA: Harold Pinter once said “I find critics on the whole a pretty unnecessary bunch of people. We don’t need critics to tell the audiences what to think”. He may be right, but what we do need is adjudicators. Over the past 15 years I have made copious notes at festivals and on many occasions asked for a written adjudication. This way I have learnt as much as possible from each adjudicator about the art of producing a play for a festival. The reward for collating this knowledge pays off when awards like the Evening Advertiser award at hj1act 2014 and the Matthew Herring award at hj1act 2015 are won.
hjHQ: And now you’re back for your third year with a brand new play. Tell us more!
PAULA: For hj1act 2016 we are entering another original script penned by my husband. ‘So What Would You Do?’ holds a moral dilemma. It tells the story of a wife and mother who, after being caught in a rainstorm, is left with an impossible decision to make.
hjHQ: It sounds intriguing. We can’t wait to see it! How are the preparations going?
PAULA: We had hoped to produce this play at hj1act 2015 but we did not have enough male actors. RWB productions has grown since then to include new male and female actors from which my husband, who is directing this year, was able to cast. The challenge for the cast, as is often found with an original script, is that it continues to be a work in progress through the early stages of rehearsal.
hjHQ: We’re really looking forward to seeing ‘So What Would You Do?’ It’s going to make a fantastic finale to our evening on Friday 15th April. Thank you so much Paula for all your insights. It’s great catching up and we’re very excited to see you, Derek and RWB Productions again this year!
Coming soon: Jackrill Productions make their hj1act debut
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