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Dorian Gray R&D: 5 Questions for the Director

We asked Daniel Harris, our Creative Producer, five quick-fire questions about taking the role of Director for our R&D of Dorian Gray this Autumn.

1. As a director, how do you go about preparing for an R+D?

Thanks to lockdown and furlough... I had a lot of free time on my hand to prepare. I did a lot of walking during the first lockdown. Running and I just aren't friends, so long walks kept me sane. I discovered a dramatised adaptation of 'The Picture Of Dorian Gray' which had Russel Tovey in it. I probably listened to this about five times over three months. Having this to escape to really allowed me to fully understand the world and structure of the original novel. And subsequently how Troy (the play's writer) and I could completely rebuild it.

I also did a lot of reading. A couple of highlights were 'Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars' by Stephen Bourne and 'The Secret History of the Blitz' by Joshua Levine. These along with countless documentaries and WW2 based TV programmes and films helped get an idea of the world we were creating, as well as the people that would inhabit it.

2. What's your favourite bit about being in a room with the cast?

People taking my ideas and improving them. I love bringing a small idea that to a room. And then spending a day having everyone discuss, dismiss and grow it into an amazing final ‘thing.’ I don’t think there’s any better feeling than being in a group and knowing that you all contributed to an end product.

Daniel, with our Artistic Director, Becky

3. What excites you most about this version of Dorian Gray?

I really love how it’s Dorian Gray, but it’s so different. We’ve loved exploring this Blitz world that we never knew about. Delving deeper and making secondary characters fuller and more in the forefront of the story has also been really exciting for Troy and I.

4. It's early days, but as you develop the show what do you think audiences might take from it?

I think mainly that the people we don’t know about, hold the most interesting stories. As a gay man I always like to tell LGBTQ+ stories and bring light to the stories of people that have contributed to the rights that I have now. But also, the less wanky answer, to have a great hour or so and look at something they think they know, in a totally different way.

5. Do you have any tips for other Directors developing work during the pandemic?

Read, research and watch. We can’t get out and rehearse so take this time to do all the stuff we were too busy to do. Believe me I’d much rather be in a theatre or rehearsal room again. But it was nice to do all the research I always say I will do, but never have chance to. Oh and zoom play readings are actually good fun!

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