Dundee Rep Theatre stage Shakespearean plays such as A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1999 and most recently Macbeth in September 2004. This month, we build a profile on Dundee Rep's Director, James Brining.
James Brining has been Artistic Director & Chief Executive of Dundee Rep since June 2003 where he has directed A Lie of the Mind, Flora the Red Menace and Dumbstruck! James was previously Artistic Director of TAG Theatre Company where he directed over 20 productions. In 2003, he led TAG in becoming the first Scottish company to be invited to the London International Festival of Theatre in its 25 year history. He also developed the drama and democracy project, Making the Nation which has led to his working in Japan, Denmark, Greece and Italy.
James has directed radio drama for BBC Radio Scotland, opera at London's South Bank Centre and two large-scale outdoor community productions before working with Orange Tree Theatre and Proteus Theatre Company. He has taught and lectured at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Queen Margaret University College and Glasgow University. He is Vice Chairman of the Federation of Scottish Theatre and on the board of Playwright's Studio, Scotland.
James's experience lies in a wide range of theatre environments, from small-scale touring and new writing to educational and community work. Leading Dundee Rep at this time allows him to draw on this variety of experience.
On one level, working with a fine ensemble of actors to create work of excellence is a great challenge:
'The success of the Rep in the recent Critics Awards, our touring both in Scotland and further afield and the reputation for quality which we are developing is the bedrock of what we aim to achieve'. But his vision is broad: 'Beyond that, the theatre must form part of the cultural landscape of the city and the region.'
He seeks to connect schools and young people with communities and audiences that would not call themselves theatre goers. His vision sees the establishment of 'a dialogue about what it means to live and work in this place at the beginning of a new century'.
Performance and participatory theatre should take its place in the fabric of people's lives: Stimulating, challenging, exciting and entertaining them.
See our feature on TAG Theatre Company, and the Education pages for more about participatory theatre for young people.
The challenge of directing Shakespeare is recognised by James. The language is heightened, and the distance is 400 years from the contemporary world. James has directed mainstage Shakespeare and Shakespeare for primary and secondary schools. In the end the key thing for James is to make the story clear and the language accessible and immediate.
'As a director I have found Shakespeare exercises more imaginative in terms of staging. The language is a challenge - making the words understood to the audience. The characters are extraordinary and vivid. Bold interpretative choices are also required.
Additionally, Shakespeare's plays aren't full of stage directions and indications of how to realise the script. So as a director you end up being challenged in many different ways. Which is why working on Shakespeare's plays is so fulfilling'.