My Theatre: Dick McCaw

Feature in Issue 11-2 | Summer 1999

What did you see the first time you went to the theatre?

Theatre came to me at school in 1967 when Ken Parrot’s Lancaster-based Orbit Theatre performed a touring version of As You Like It. I was horrified. The trees were cardboard cut-outs and you could see the lighting rig! This challenged my very conventional image of theatre. The first theatre I went to see was the RSC’s Antony and Cleopatra at both Stratford and The Aldwych. It was a beautiful mixture of rich and poor theatre.

What single performance has inspired you the most?

Difficult to pin it down to one single performance. Peter Brook’s Ubu in 1978. The Right Size’s Moose. Complicite’s Street of Crocodiles. Valeri Fokin’s A Hotel Room in the Village N.

Which actor, alive or dead, makes you laugh the most?

Paul Merton (when he’s not acting) makes me roar, so did Eric Morcambe.

Who is your favourite playwright?

Beckett or Shakespeare.

When was the last time you walked out of a theatre before the end of the show?

Robert Lepage’s Geometry of Miracles. This was what Grotowski would call rich theatre at its worst. It had potential as a really interesting illustrated lecture. But the pacing and flaccid naturalism of the acting left me bored and a little bewildered. Why did they do it?

When was the last time you cried at the theatre?

I cry a lot at the theatre as much as I laugh. I was in Moscow over Easter and saw a production of King Lear from Yakutia in central Siberia. Such lightness, such love, such vulnerability, such humanity.

Who is your favourite actor?

I loved Bob Peck – he was so noble, so generous: a true hero. I like Alun Armstrong and Pete Postlethwaite – they both have a marvellous demonic quality. They are dangerous, raw and real. Armstrong performed the Jew in The Jew of Malta – my God! What energy!

If you could meet any theatre practitioner, alive or dead, who would it be?

Bertolt Brecht.

Which contemporary theatre director’s work do you most admire?

Simon McBurney.

What does ‘physical theatre’ mean to you?

Not much really, it’s a term for describing non text-based theatre but like all these terms it becomes a meaningless label very quickly. People address the abstraction and forget why the term was created

What would you do if you didn’t work in the theatre?

I’ve been a landscape gardener and adore cooking so maybe I’d run a restaurant which would use the produce from my garden.

If you could send one message to Chris Smith, what would it be?

I did have the chance to deliver a message to him as he presented me with the IT award for ‘excellence in international theatre’ last year. Couldn’t think of anything intelligent then and I still can’t now.

Dick McCaw directs the International Workshop Festival. This year’s festival runs from 6 September – 2 October. A host of top International theatre practitioners will run workshops in London, Coventry and Belfast.

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Issue 11-2
p. 18