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30 to Curtain: Sir Matthew Bourne

#5616

The company in Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella"

Photo by Johan Persson

"Welcome to '30 to Curtain,' a Center Theatre Group podcast. I'm Michael Ritchie, Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group. For each episode of this podcast, we talk with some of the talented artists working across a three stages, the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Kirk Douglas Theatre. Our guest on this podcast is Sir Matthew Bourne, who has brought a new generation of audiences to dance, breaking down the walls between classical, ballet and theatrical entertainment."

Michael Ritchie:

In 1995, Matthew changed the worlds of dance and theatre when his daring interpretation of 'Swan Lake' made its world premiere in London. A year later, it had become the longest running ballet on the west end. A year after that, in 1997, he made his U.S. debut here with Center Theater Group at the Ahmanson Theatre where 'Swan Lake' became an instant hit before becoming the longest running valet on Broadway. The images Matthew conjures onstage are often striking and always imaginative. He now returns to the Ahmanson with a revival of another one of his classics, 'Cinderella,' on stage February 5th through March 10th, 2019. We're proud to have Matthew consider the Ahmanson his second home, and also to have him as an Associate Artist at Center Theatre Group. I hope you enjoy this conversation and I look forward to seeing you at the theatre.

Welcome back to L.A.

Matthew Bourne:

Thank you, Michael. It's great to be here always.

Michael Ritchie:

Well, obviously we want to talk a little bit about "Cinderella," which is playing right now. But to lead into it, let's do some background on you, I guess in your career, and how and where it started. Did you grow up dancing or going to dance?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, not really going to dance that way that people might think of the sort of thing that they might think I as going to. I was brought up in East London. I'm actually a cockney really. My parents loved going to the theatre. They're not in the theatre, but they loved to take me. I was lucky to live in London, of course, where there's lots of theatre. I saw a lot of dancing musicals. They loved movies as well. So they sat me down in front of MGM musicals from about four or five onwards.

So I really loved that. I knew that kind of dance, for many years, that was the kind of dancing I knew. I didn't know anything about ballet or contemporary dance or modern dance. The instinct in me at that age was to put on a show. I mean, it's in a very Mickey and Judy kind of way. I always wanted to put on a show, get kids from down the street to come and work, be in it. That moved then to this sort of church hall down the road. I used to put on shows. I Used to sing in the choir, but then I used to be able to put up my own shows as well. So I always done it, it's an instinct in me to do it. But the training and the dance specific thing that I do now came a lot later. I discovered ballet and contemporary dance in my late teens, bery late teens. Yeah. 18, yeah.

Michael Ritchie:

Before we get onto that. Did you charge for the performances you put on in the neighborhood?

Matthew Bourne:

I did.

Michael Ritchie:

You did?

Matthew Bourne:

Yes.

Michael Ritchie:

How much?

Matthew Bourne:

I used to say it's something like ... What would it have been? A couple of shillings or something in those days. Actually pre decimal, just pre decimal money, which was like before the age of 11 I guess. I used to get little old ladies that I knew and liked down the street who lived on their own. I used to bring them to my house to sit and watch me in these shows and offer them a cup of tea and biscuits to go with it. That was free.

Michael Ritchie:

Did you share the proceeds with the performers?

Matthew Bourne:

You know, I don't know what I did with the proceeds. I'd really like to know why I was charging and what it was for, I don't know.

Michael Ritchie:

Well, clearly someone was paying. So you discovered dance late. Then wanted to become a dancer, was it?

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah, I'd done it in an amateur way for a long time. I was sort of self taught and I kind of think I felt I was quite good, like you do if you're doing it. I thought, "Oh, I'm quite good at dancing." The idea of training, it was not something that occurred to me really. In fact that the local or amateur dance group I went to, they used to do a ballet class at the beginning of the rehearsal session each time. I would turn up after that. I didn't want to be ... Something about young males in dance that I didn't want to be seen to be doing ballet at that age. So I went after, I turned up after the class.

So something going on in my head, which I can't quite explain now, but it wasn't for me. I knew it wasn't for me at that point. It took a long time for that to become something I felt I needed, which I did obviously to do what I do now. I got into ballet and all the great choreographers that were coming to London, again, living in London, it was a great chance to see so much in a short space of time. I used to go a lot.

It came to a point where I just thought I'd need to take this more seriously. I'd met some people who were also training. I was ushering at The National Theatre at the time.

Michael Ritchie:

Nice, very good.

Matthew Bourne:

I worked there for a long time. I always worked there for pre-raining through training and when I started my company, I was there for nine years. Some American travelers might recognize me from being there. I used to get recognized quite a lot and they thought, "Oh is he an actor or something?" They were like, "No, he's on the bookshop at The National Theatre sitting in that foyer."

'Cause I used to chat to people. But I love that job, I saw so much. But I met all my fellow ushers and people like that were trainee actors, and dancers, and singers, and people like that. I met some who are similar age to me doing, gone into training as a dancer, full-time training. I thought, "Well he's the same as me. Why am I not doing that?" I applied and it was literally my first ever dance class was my audition. It's crazy. I got in.

Michael Ritchie:

Did you go to university?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, this was sort of a ... It was a BA honors degree course. It was one of the first of its kind in dance at that time. So I did end up with a degree. So it was like getting into university. But at the time to justify the degree, it was backed up with enormous amount of written work as well as the rehearsing and the class, and the training.

Michael Ritchie:

General academia or in the craft?

Matthew Bourne:

All in the craft. Yeah. Yeah. All to do with dance. But we studied movements, studied criticism, history, all sorts of things as well as choreography and dance training.

Michael Ritchie:

In that training, did you watch film? Was that part of your training was to look at different choreographers?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, so I need to learn about the history of dance. I've always loved that. I really was big on that. I found that fascinating, people were sort of seeing some of my pieces. I love calling upon the history of dance and using that. So that was a big fascination for me. One of the things I first liked about ballet was that it was some piece of art preserved all these years, sort of recreate it.

Matthew Bourne:

I thought that was sort of extraordinary. That it was still there, and quite eccentric in its way.

Michael Ritchie:

Did you learn a dance notation?

Matthew Bourne:

I did a bit. I did. I got up to sort of an intermediary level or something in Labanotation, it was called. Not really useful these days. I don't find.

Michael Ritchie:

No. For you or in general?

Matthew Bourne:

In general. It's a very slow process and we can film everything now on our phones and all different sorts of ways. It's from all angles.

Michael Ritchie:

Yeah, it always fascinated me. I had very little experience with it, but when I saw it being used, I was stunned by the hieroglyphics of it and the ability to translate. I was really lucky at one point in my career to end up in a rehearsal room with Jerome Robbins for about six months on and off where he was trying to develop essentially his autobiography. It was called "The Poppa Piece." It was some scripted sections, a lot of dance from his childhood on up through his career, his political problems, where he was in his life, never came to life, never left the rehearsal room. It was ... I mentioned that because of the notation. I remember seeing that then. He Would have someone else come in.

Matthew Bourne:

And recreate sort of his-

Michael Ritchie:

Recreate for him. He couldn't read it.

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah, yeah.

Michael Ritchie:

But he'd bring people in that knew. But it was also one of the few times I've ever been in a room where I thought that I'm sitting next to genius. There was something that came out to him that was inspired. That is rare to see.

Matthew Bourne:

Well you hear that again and again with him, don't you? The people very much felt that. Now, well, you obviously experienced it and you saw it. But also quite a dark character, wasn't he?

Michael Ritchie:

Oh, he really was. Now, I was lucky in that since I lived a block away from him. We rehearsed across town. So we would ride back and forth together. I'd go over to his townhouse to pick him up. We had a car for him. And so I had got a lot of quiet time with him.

So it was, and I was the stage manager. He needed me just to be useful. I had to provide things for him. Then because we live near each other, he got to know my wife and my son on the street. My son, our son, at the time was three years old and he was great with little kids. So there was something that I found very charming about him. But to watch him turn on a dancer, I mean he would rip holes in people. He had a crew of his dancers for years in the room together and they just took it. They all knew, they knew how to deal with it. But boy, if he got someone a rookie or someone raw, he could rip them apart.

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah, no, I've heard I, I'd find that very difficult way to work. I'd feel so guilty all day. I wouldn't be able to work if I had been horrible to someone or rude to someone. I'm almost the opposite, too nice.

Michael Ritchie:

No, it may be a work of bringing inspiration to others. To creating.

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah.

Michael Ritchie:

How do you create that space where something happens and it's different for different people?

Matthew Bourne:

And it brings out something in those people. I'm sure it can work, but to each his own really. I just wouldn't, I wouldn't like myself if it was like that.

Michael Ritchie:

So when you came out of your training, did you join a company as a dancer?

Matthew Bourne:

No. I started the company.

Michael Ritchie:

Immediately.

Matthew Bourne:

That I still run today.

Michael Ritchie:

You got balls, you got balls. So how did y'all, wait, wait ... How'd you go about doing that? All right, so yeah. You're just like, kicked around and charging shillings on the street until you were in your late teens, took a little bit of training and then suddenly you think, you know what ...

Matthew Bourne:

No. It started really small. I had a fourth year of training, which was about being part of a company where you would all sort of audition for the fourth year. You became a company and choreographers came in and worked with you. You went on a tour of the UK, a little tour. So I learned about how a company works and the sort of venues that you might go to.

I was working with a group of friends at college. We Just decided to start our own thing. Several of us wanted to choreograph. We all wanted to perform. We thought if we don't do ourselves, it was quite a culture of that in UK at the time. Lots of little companies around. So there's only about eight of us, so it wasn't what it is now. It was a very small unpaid concern to begin with and where you ironed your own costumes and rolled out the floor and put it down and rolled it up at the end of the evening. But fun, lots of fun. I loved it.

Michael Ritchie:

Isn't the beginning always the best?

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah.

Michael Ritchie:

Don't you have just the best memories?

Matthew Bourne:

Such great memories.

Michael Ritchie:

Just living on the edge, right?

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah. I loved it. I mean I love what I do now, but I love that as much. I never sort of hankered for more. It just happened that the company got bigger, the opportunities got greater.

Michael Ritchie:

So in the beginning, well both as a dancer and a choreographer, certainly you weren't doing the large scale pieces, both in-

Matthew Bourne:

No. Scope or in length.

Michael Ritchie:

So you're working on smaller pieces at the time?

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah, they were small, sort of pastiche, kind of pieces collage-y pieces about ideas. I did one about English-ness. I did one want about French-ness, sort of like bring together ideas, make a little ... It was a cabaret in one sense. But at the same time as that, I getting offers to work in theater and do work in plays and musical theatre.

John Caird was the one of the first people who came to me and offered me something. I mean I've got him and Stephen Schwartz actually as well. He brought Stephen Schwartz along to some of my shows. I've got to, actually got an old video of one of my performances where there's about 10 people in the audience, including John and Stephen. You can hear them laughing all the way through and this, it's just nice things. John invited me to work with them in the RSC on the production. I actually like it and I met lots of great actors. I'm still friendly with now. Alan Cumming has been a lifelong friend since then. I got invited to do a musical with them called "Children of Eden," which is Stephen Schwartz's musical. We did the premiere of it in London. It was a big flop. So as a big lesson to me at the time. 'Cause I thought "Wow, I'm made now, aren't I? Stephen Schwartz, John Caird had just done Les Miserables.

Michael Ritchie:

Done, done, and done, right?

Matthew Bourne:

All these shows run forever. Three months, it was gone. So it was interesting. But I learned alongside that, I was working with some really interesting directors and learning from them and bringing that to what I do in dance. That was a very valuable time actually.

Michael Ritchie:

All right. So looking back on "Children of Eden" now, isn't there ... Look, the hits are wonderful, but in retrospect, isn't there's something wonderful about the flops? Isn't that where the stories come from?

Matthew Bourne:

Yes. I think so. Maybe you learn things as well. you know what I mean? You're learning what ... You think, well, okay. 'Cause I think when you build up to any opening of anything, you're convincing yourself it's good because that's your job in a way to convince everyone this is great, isn't it? Isn't it?

Michael Ritchie:

Exactly.

Matthew Bourne:

Everyone? Then publicly people are telling you in newspapers, that it's not so good. You can't come to terms with this. It does. It hits you, it's hard. Anyone who works in theatre knows this, the public judgment of your work when you are your most vulnerable really is not nice.

Michael Ritchie:

No. For me, I have a little bit of a distance in that I produce the shows, I put the teams together. You are putting yourself out there, your performers are putting themselves out there. Being an artist isn't what you do. It's who you are. So when your art gets judged, it must feel like, it must feel very personal. I can remove myself a little bit. I don't know if I'd have the capacity to be as close to it as I see in artists.

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah. I mean I think it's true. You open yourselves up, don't you? It is a very public thing. But of course, that's what it's all about. It's about audiences. So it goes along with that.

Michael Ritchie:

I don't know fully the history of the company. My first experience with it was with "Swan Lake." So now that began back in Great Britain, in London were where you were. How did it come to be a piece that was seen in some ways around the world? What was that trajectory and was that the first big leap for you in the company?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, it changed my life, that piece. I'd done "Nutcracker" before, but it was a commission for another company, an opera company called Opera North. So that experience had been a good one. I'd enjoyed working with a score and everything. So I wanted to do another one. "Swan Lake" would have been my first choice anyway probably. There is a gamble to do it in some ways, but we had proper funding to expand. We were this small company as I was saying. Then we expanded to do it in two weeks, which was a long time at that time. Run at Sadler's Wells. There was a lot of faith in it I suppose in a way. We felt we had a good idea. Other people didn't share that thought outside of, you know, the rehearsal room, some people.

So it was a little scary, but we had faith in it, but we didn't know. We had no expectation of what would happen once we did that first show. Really. It was sort of incredible, an incredible life changing night. Cameron Mackintosh literally pinned me against the wall in the bar, in the interval and said "This has to be in the west end. This is beyond dance. It has to be in ... We can do it, we're going to do it." Before it even finished. So he made me really respect him actually. 'Cause I thought, well he really does know when he's seeing something that that might work. Then it was on the news the next day, it was big news. But during that time, I think we were the ...

Whether it was at Sadler's Wells, so during that tour, the following year, it went into the West End. The Piccadilly Theatre in the West End, which was an unheard of thing. During that time, Gordon Davidson had come to see it in London and Charles Dillingham. Gordon decided that it was something he wanted his audience to see and offered us the opportunity to come here, to the Ahmanson. It was literally our first ever international date for my company, anywhere in the world. So this is why this relationship is so important to me because I think it started when no one else had the faith to bring us. So I think it was an extraordinary time to be within what we'd looked at then I suppose as essentially a season of theatre, musical theatre and play, great plays and things.

To put this dance piece in the middle of that was an unusual and an unheard of thing at the time. But coming here as a group of young people from London who'd never really traveled in that way and to be embraced by the city, which we were, it felt like we were the talk of the town for awhile, it was an incredible experience that I still sort of have very fond memories about now. It was a great time.

Michael Ritchie:

I would imagine it is. I wasn't here at the time, but from the minute I started interviewing for this particular position, I was hearing about that experience here, how it did light up the city. It did light up the audiences. Internally, people would say it appeared to be a risk, but it wasn't, we had seen the effect of the show elsewhere. For those of our listeners who don't know your version of "Swan Lake," what made it special? What was the difference maker there?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, the big thing that everyone calls it, the all male "Swan Lake," which of course it isn't. It does have female dancers in it. But the swans are played by men rather than famously the women in the ballet, which was a big cultural thing. I realized that it was because I felt some ways that the thing that we picked up on in my version of it was the royal aspects of it because our royal family in our piece, the piece is always about prince who is, the queen is trying to marry him off to a suitable princess. When I made the piece, it was all in the news every day. It was Diana and Charles and Camilla and all these royal scandals that are going on.

It was big news and about a prince who couldn't be with who he wanted to be with. Our prince looks a bit like Prince Charles and he dressed a bit like him. I thought this is, if anything, this will be the thing that the papers pick up on, Prince Charles in gay ballet or something like that. None of that at all. It was all about swans. It was all about this culturally powerful image of the female swan, Dancing Swan against Adam Cooper, who was our original first cast dancer, the new Swan, the look, the male swan. That was what it was all about.

Michael Ritchie:

What gave you that idea? I mean, it's inspired. No one else had done it. Where did that come from?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, I'd sort of knew the ballet very well. I used to go to the Royal Opera House and watch it quite a lot. It was a bit of a daydream actually. I did a "what if" which I do quite a lot when I watch things a lot. What if the swan were male? I've sort of thought thought, what is it he's looking for, this prince? He's saying, "No, no, no, I'm not going to marry her. I'm not going to marry her." What is it he's looking for? So I had this sort of strange, sort of little fantasy going on in my head. Never dreaming that I would ever do it. It was just literally a daydream. Then when this possibility came up, I came back to it and I thought, "Well, this could be really interesting." I mean it's the most basically obvious thing. I mean, there are male swans and there are females swans, otherwise there'd be no swans.

So the idea of male swans just gave me an opportunity to go back to looking at the real thing or looking at real swans, how they moved and using all those aspects and creating a new vocabulary of movement for the swans that was more masculine. I'm going to have to be careful when I talk about it now because you could do a new version of "Swan Lake" with women and do new choreography. They could be very powerful. That absolutely, so not meaning that. The interesting thing was what it psychologically did for the story of a prince who is drawn towards this swan, it became much more the good voice and the bad voice in his head. It became much more about who he was and what the swan represented rather than just an attraction. It was more like an attraction because he was free, and wild, and beautiful, and did what he liked. Everything he couldn't do himself.

Michael Ritchie:

Well, let's talk about a "Cinderella."

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah.

Michael Ritchie:

When did you first approach this particular piece and why?

Matthew Bourne:

It was the follow up to "Swan Lake," which is a difficult thing in itself. It was like the second album syndrome. Isn't it?

Michael Ritchie:

Exactly. yeah.

Matthew Bourne:

So when you've had a big hit and it's just like whatever I do, it's not going to be as good.

Michael Ritchie:

Wait, stop right there. So tell me about that. No, this is interesting. Okay. So you've had this huge success and you've been able to wear, wear that badge for a little while and sort of make peace with this shift in your life. There's a lot of good that comes with that. What's the dark side? What's the downside when you're there in that moment?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, I was very conscious. I'm very keen not to be a one hit wonder. That's what it felt like a little bit that it was beyond just a successful show. It'd gone to other places and done things that I'd never expected it to do. So to follow that up was a little bit scary. More than scary, but you had to do it. If you don't follow it up, you don't follow it up. You've got to do something. Something has to be the next piece.

Michael Ritchie:

You become The Troggs.

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah. So there's a lot of pressure on it, a lot of expectation. It was almost impossible to live up to it in a way. But interestingly, it did do pretty well when we first did it. But I felt I'd needed to have more opportunities to work on it. What we decided to do was do it straight into the West End, which is a maybe a little bit of a difficult thing to do as well. Rather than try it out in other places. But it's a piece I've always had a lot of faith in, I believe in it as a piece. I love the piece. It's a delicate piece. It requires sincere performances and quality of acting, which is not what dance normally does. It's about real people in a real situation. I feel that's an important thing about it and it has its own special quality. It's not like "Swan Lake." It's a different animal.

Well, we maybe have talked around the wrong way 'cause I haven't explained to people what the theme of it is yet, but really have? The piece we're bringing back, 'cause we did do it here 20 years ago.

Michael Ritchie:

Yeah, yeah, I know, very successfully.

Matthew Bourne:

People loved it here then and we've had a dream to bring it back for some years now. But the production I felt that we did here was definitely a move on from the one that we did in the West End. It was two years later. And again, we had this brilliant opportunity to redo it. I think it went steps upwards when we brought it here. It had a lot of differences to the West End production. And this was the only other place it had been done.

So we did it in the West End and at the Ahmanson. That was it. I wanted to bring it back about 10 years ago. I wanted to have a proper look at it and start from the beginning again and work at how we could do this as a touring show. It wasn't actually made to tour even. It was a sit down production, Lez Brotherston, my designer needed to do some work. We needed to compare the casts down a bit and make it a workable thing. So now, the casts are constantly busy. When they're not on stage, they're in quick change. They're always always working through the evening. We had this opportunity to redo it and I really wanted to bring that to audiences here. It's also of a personal piece for me because it sort of comes from ... It's set during the Blitz in London where my parents were growing up.

They were not evacuated. Like Angela Lansbury was. She was mentioning this to her assistant the other day about coming to see the show and I said, "Well, Angela might be interested in this 'cause she was evacuated to the U..S at this time in 1940 and became an actress." So I said it's almost part of her history as well. My parents stayed in London and both sets of grandparents live within streets of each other during that time. So I heard stories about it when I was growing up that at time, the nightly bombardment of bombs, and how my dad used to think it was a lot of fun actually. He was so young, he used to go out and explore the next day the bombed buildings and stuff, like a lot of kids did. Some of the characters in it are named after my grandparents. The whole Blitz story in "Cinderella," was ... people who saw it before here will remember it.

Matthew Bourne:

It works extremely well because it's that whole thing of people seeking escapism. So they dance tonight, we may all die tomorrow. People fell in love very quickly, which is what "Cinderella's" about. The idea of a shoe going missing in the rubble of a bombed building is such a powerful image, that sort of sparkly shoe. That's feeling of some sort of hope in that as well. It's all in that music which was written during that time but not written for a wartime story.

Matthew Bourne:

It was written to be a fairytale ballet, in the manner of Tchaikovsky. The key to this piece was really reading that Prokofiev have it written out at that time. It just sparked up the whole piece really. It made so much sense to me.

Michael Ritchie:

How much research you normally do? You said you were reading about the period, is that normal to you?

Matthew Bourne:

Yeah. This is a great film for a piece for research. So many films, so many great films to watch. I mean I get all my dancers to watch the all these old black and white movies. It's amazing how many young people find it difficult to watch a black and white movie. I mean, I don't get it.

Michael Ritchie:

I love it. I love it.

Matthew Bourne:

One of them says to me, "Oh I have to watch it in 20 minute bursts cause it's in black and white." What does that mean? There's a lot of great research and, and pieces to base your characters. But the big movie that it's based on mainly is in England, it was called a "Match of Life and Death." I think it was called "Stairway to Heaven" in the States, Powell and Pressburger film. As we know, we did "The Red Shoes" here recently. It's another one of their films. It's about the hovering between life and death of these two characters that fall in love in a very short space of time in an airplane. She's the air controller, the American girl, and he's the English pilot who's about to ... And they fall in love in this instant.

Something mixes up the order of things in the heavens. It wasn't supposed to happen that he dies. He doesn't, and they survive because they're in love. It's about the power of love. That's what this piece is about as well. It's about finding, two people finding each other in difficult circumstances.

Michael Ritchie:

When you walk into the room at the beginning of a rehearsal to create the piece, how much do you know? How autocratic are you about where it's going? What's happening? Or is it looser than that?

Matthew Bourne:

It's two things. It's quite strong in a sense of I know the music structure very well. I know what the music is doing 'cause I've had to convince myself that all my ideas are in the music and not put on top of it. So I know where we're going a bit and I know emotionally what I want to do and what each scene might be about.

But beyond that, it's free. I want help. I want them to help me create, I want them to give me ideas. I want them to do their own research and bring things to me. I always say to them, I can't read everything. I can't watch everything. You've got to do your own, bring things to me. So you go, "Oh, but I read this." So it becomes very collaborative in the room with the dancers.

You never know who's going to have the best idea. Sometimes it was not always going to be me certainly. Sometimes it's the person who's just joined the company. You've gotta be open, I always find. Keep the ears and eyes open.

Michael Ritchie:

How many in the company now?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, at the moment there's 70 because we've got 30 here in "Cinderella" and 40 back home in "Swan Lake," which has just finished its eight-week run at Sadler's Wells. So the company is split in two at the moment. There's a lot of dancers.

Michael Ritchie:

How do you find your dancers to fill out the company as time goes on?

Matthew Bourne:

Well, "Cinderella" is an interesting one 'cause you've got generational differences in it. You've got people who have been with me for 20 years in this show. You've got others that are brand new and there's lots of young talents to see as well. But basically the company, I find the mixture of the more experienced with the new is a really good thing. You're going to learn a lot from each other. It's not all one way. I look for people who are passionate about moving. Sometimes they're not trained in any way as actors. So the way I try and find it is how passionate are they to get their ideas across?

'Cause I feel that's the beginning of acting. For me, it's the wanting to be generous with an audience. Let's tell the audience a story. That's how it develops from them. Their passion for movement, it becomes their passion to tell a story to an audience. They have to be very skilled. There's some lovely performances in this "Cinderella," I have to say. I mean some really delicate acting, sincere, wonderful stuff going on all around the stage.

I would tell people to really look around and follow a few little interesting stories that go on and I'm probably telling not to look at the main action now. But they always say, "There was too much to look at. We have to come again."

Michael Ritchie:

That's the worst thing that can happen to any of us, right?

Matthew Bourne:

But it's, it's important that this a piece has that element to it of of real situations and real people.

Michael Ritchie:

I have to say we're thrilled to have you and the company back here. It was one of the blessings for me when I took this job. I knew that you had been apart of, you know, the recent history here at Center Theatre Group and in Los Angeles. It was certainly something that others had encouraged me to pursue. I don't know how many we've done together now, but it's more than a handful.

Matthew Bourne:

Oh yes.

Michael Ritchie:

I certainly hope that there are more to come in the future. Are you working on anything new?

Matthew Bourne:

Yes. Well, thank you, Michael, for that. I would've been so ... I would have been so sad if that relationship hadn't continued. It has thrived under your leadership as well. We're so grateful to keep coming back. I've got a new production actually starting. I'm very nervous at the moment 'cause I'm working on it, trying to solve it, "Romeo and Juliet," which is something that I've resisted for years cause it's been done a million ways. Every version you can think of has been done in all mediums.

My take on it is quite simple in some ways, although it will be different. But his was about young cast and young people involved in the creation of it sparked something in me that I thought was really exciting. So I've gone for the younger members of my company and a lot of new recent graduates coming into it, and young people that we pick up around the UK in each city that we go to.

We have six talented young people that we've auditioned already that will join us in each city. But also we have young associate artists as choreographer, designer, lighting designer, conductor, arranger. We're all working with a young associate. I'm working with the young associate choreographer called Arielle Smith, young female choreographer who's absolutely brilliant. We'll have a great time with as well. She's a talent, but actually she's fun to work with. The big age gap between us. She's 20 and I'm quite old.

Michael Ritchie:

32. You're 32. I will say one of the great things about your company, and I don't know when and where this started, is the fact that you don't sit down and just do performances. You reach out, you go out into the schools. You go out into the communities. You do training, you do introduction to dance and to theatre. It's a very active give and take with the audience, particularly the younger audiences. I know that when we do Student Matinees, they are among the most exciting performances I've ever been to.

Matthew Bourne:

Oh yeah. we can't wait.

Michael Ritchie:

It's a blessing to have you guys come in and continue to do that. I know we've got a lot of events around the company over this five-week stay going outside the walls of theatre.

Matthew Bourne:

Absolutely. It's what we're all about as well. Yeah. That's why we're a great team I think.

Michael Ritchie:

That's right, it works. Well, Matthew, thank you for this. I'm glad you're here for five weeks. We'll be seeing more of each other and looking forward to talking about the next times you're coming back here.

You've been listening to "30 to Curtain," a Center Theatre Group podcast. You can find out more about Matthew Bourne's "Cinderella," our organization, and upcoming productions on our website at CenterTheatreGroup.org.

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