Recently Louise Swindell grabbed five minutes with Steve Bennett, Executive Producer of Clocktower Theatre Company.
So Steve, what inspired you to set up Clocktower?
When I graduated in Drama from the University of South Wales I saw a lot of talented actors not getting taken seriously because they didn’t have degrees from a drama school. I set up Clocktower because I wanted to give those people a platform to perform and showcase their talents in the great city of Cardiff as well as any drama school graduate could. Also, I’d just come back from a horrific run at an the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with another company and felt I’d discovered all the things you shouldn’t do when running a company! It turns out there are loads more, but it’s all part of the journey!
What is the mission statement for Clocktower?
Clocktower aims to create affordable and accessible theatre for all ages whilst developing new talent and inspiring young people to be involved in the arts. We also aim to support local businesses and venues wherever possible and do all of this in a sustainable manner, ensuring we can facilitate our goals indefinitely.
What is your role and what does it involve day to day?
My role is executive producer, I’m in charge of running all aspects of the company from organising productions to keeping the companies books. Day to day I run the company’s social media, manage correspondence and support local arts events.
Who do you work with?
Clocktower is technically just run by myself, but it never would’ve happened or existed for 4 years without the support of my friends and other local arts professionals. Minty Booth and I set set up Clocktower together in 2013 and we built the company together until 2016. Local media producer, Jonathan Dunn has worked closely with us in a number of capacities over the years, ranging between actor, director and web and graphic design. Others we’ve worked with include Joseph Burke who we set up a sister company, Thirsty Bird and more recently George Goding with whom we co-produced an show that we took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017. As well as many other people over the 20 productions we’ve put on in 4 years. I value everyone’s input and time and wouldn’t be where we are without them.
Why did you take a production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
It’s always been a dream of mine to have my own company, once achieved, the goals get loftier and an Edinburgh fringe show was one of them. I developed a fantastic relationship with the incredibly talented George Goding and we produced his episodic sitcom for the stage in Cardiff many times together and the natural progression was Edinburgh!
What were the highs and lows of the Edinburgh fringe?
It’s an amazing experience for someone with a company because your putting your name in the world’s shop window. One of the biggest highs was having our first sell out performance, along with receiving some incredible feedback from audiences. Some of the lows were receiving poor support from our venue as well as not managing to attract any professional reviews.
If you could name your favourite performance of all time, which would it be?
One of the best performances I’ve ever seen was a production of Georges Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear at the Old Vic, it was a masterfully executed farce which was as hilarious as it was engaging.
Thanks for answering these questions so honestly, Steve; it’s excellent to hear about your experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which I’m sure many small theatre companies are considering and wondering about the risks involved.