Based in York and Edinburgh, arts PR Duncan Clarke has been responsible more than most for getting me out of London
Where were you 10 years ago?
Funnily enough 10 years I decided to take the decision and leave my job as the Communications Officer at York Theatre Royal and start up Duncan Clarke PR. Being based in Yorkshire, I knew that there was so many great theatre companies in the region and yet very few theatre publicists – so it just made sense to start up on my own. I must admit I was really nervous about making the move but what kept me going was the brilliant from people within the industry and the support from my amazing wife.
Best show you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
Ah, the impossible theatrical question!! I must admit that over the last 10 years I have not seen much theatre in London but saying that Hamilton was incredible. But, for me the best theatre I have seen in the last 10 years have been staged in Yorkshire where I am based. I think four honourable mentions must go to Sheffield Theatre’s Life of Pi, Box of Trick’s Narvik, Slung Low and Pilot Theatre’s Blood and Chocolate which took over the City of York and was an amazing achievement and also Freedom Studio’s recent production of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile. However my favourite show of the last 10 years has been Freedom Studios (again) production of The Mill – City of Dreams which was quite stunningly directed and set in a disused mill in the centre of Bradford by the brilliant Madani Younis.
What has been your professional highlight of the last 10 years?
I know it sounds really cheesy but for me it has been to help so many great small theatre companies from the North of England to develop their profile not just from a local and regional point of view but also nationally (hopefully we will see more national theatre critics and journalists cover the north in the future). It has been such a privilege for me to have worked over the last 10 years with some truly incredible creative people.
Top flavour of interval ice-cream?
Well I must admit this is a bit of sore subject with me – every time I go to the theatre it’s the usual strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. I mean – come on – why don’t theatre’s sell raspberry ripple flavour (my personal favourite). Also whilst we are talking about this controversial topic – please oh please can theatres sell Fab ice lollies.
What show do you wish theatres would give a rest for a few years?
Well, this a difficult question as I really would like to keep working for the next 10 years. If I had to say anything it would be perhaps the theatre world could possibly take a year off producing Shakespeare and maybe give some fresh new playwrights an opportunity instead.
Name someone who you think is a really underappreciated talent (in the world of theatre)?
Well there are a couple of people I think are really underappreciated. Firstly the brilliant Sarah Brigham at Derby Theatre. I also think the Theatr Clwyd’s Director of Marketing & Communications Sam Freeman is brilliant. Finally I think theatre press officers and PR freelancers who work so hard to get exposure for the shows they work on and don’t always get the praise they deserve.
Elphaba or Glinda?
What is one thing that you think would help theatre survive and/or thrive the next ten years?
Theatre will survive if it makes its self-accessible to all – whether its programming or ticket prices (which seem to be getting higher and higher every day and not just in London). Theatre must also work more with its communities and create more work for younger audiences. I also think we need to be showcasing more regional voices and productions. Incredibly not all amazing theatre is created in London – there are some pretty incredible theatre companies and creative people who live outside the city.
Which is your favourite theatre?
That’s a difficult one. I’m going to throw a curveball and say actually my favourite venues are the non-theatre spaces I have worked in such as Bradford Bus Station, a disused m&s, a fish and chip shop and the City of York.
Can you say anything about what’s to come for you, (in the next ten years or otherwise)?
Well I’m going to be working on some fab new productions in the new year with the amazing imitating the dog and Pilot Theatre and from a personal point of view DuncanClarke PR might be on the move soon.