HONOUR - Casting Release... ...



New production company Tiny Fires, comprised of director Paul Robinson and producer Tara Finney, are presenting the first London revival in over 25 years of Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should at the St James Theatre this spring. We talk to director Paul, set designer Signe Beckmann and costume designer Helen Coyston about their vision and roles in creating a bold new version of this iconic play.


Q: What’s your approach for dealing with a script that does not play out in chronological order but instead jumps between time, place and character?


Paul: My approach to My Mother Said I Never Should is very much to treat it as a memory play. Memory as it relates to family is fascinating because our recollections of the same events in our own families differ so wildly. This is natural because our view is much more subjective than we think. 


Signe: A play with multiple locations and a non linear storyline is a brilliant challenge because it needs a space that works for all locations with a minimum of scene changes in between, making sure the pace of the play remains. I have designed a set that aims to fully immerse the viewer in the world of the play, without distracting them from the story.


Q: So, where do you start?


Signe: Designers are responsible for the visual concept of a theatre production. I identify a design style for sets, locations, props and costumes, while working closely with Paul as well as the fantastic Johanna Town, our lighting designer. The process always starts by reading the play and having conversations with the director. I then sketch out ideas and build a model box in scale 1:25.


Helen: For costume, I use pointers from the script and conversations with Paul to draw designs for each of the characters. The designs show how we envisage the costume looking and is useful for the cast and team to work from. I oversee the sourcing and making of any costumes needed for the show. Once they have been finalised by the Paul and the team, I will enlist costume makers to begin any construction, and pass on the chosen material and designs to the makers who construct the costume using the designs and measurements given by the cast. The construction also has to take into account any quick changes that may occur, which have been mapped out by Paul and myself. 


Q: What can audiences expect from this production of the play?


Paul: We've had tremendous fun finding a visual language - through lighting, sound & composition, movement and video - to fully embrace this more expressionistic language and we're really excited by what we've come up with. We have such a phenomenal creative team working on the show – in addition to Signe, Helen and Johanna, we also have composer Simon Slater and the Olivier Award winning video designer Tim Bird. I would expect quite a radical, contemporary and explosive version of the play and with no less of the emotional impact.  



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Tiny Fires Ltd is an independent production company set up by director Paul Robinson and producer Tara Finney to create high quality, unique and innovative theatre.


"From Tiny Fires comes big results" - Ought to be Clowns
(on My Mother Said, 2016)


Paul Robinson is joint director of Tiny Fires Ltd. Paul is Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre for whom he has directed Build A Rocket, The 39 Steps, A Christmas Carol, Goth Weekend,  The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Pinocchio.


He trained as a director at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, then received an Arts Council Directing Bursary at The Manchester Royal Exchange. He was selected to attend the National Theatre's Advanced Directors' Course and was then Staff Director at the NT for three years.  


Paul was Joint Artistic Director of Theatre503 from 2007 to 2012, when the theatre was turned into a multi-award-winning new writing powerhouse. Credits for Theatre503 include: Salt Meets Wound, They Have Oak Trees in North Carolina (also Radio 4), The Lifesavers (TMA nominated), This Charming Man, Desolate Heaven and The Life of Stuff.


Paul took on sole leadership of Theatre503 from 2012, introducing the Trafalgar Transfer season and the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. He has been twice nominated for Best Artistic Director at the Off West End Awards. His productions of And Then Come the Nightjars, A Handful of Stars and Land of Our Fathers all received huge critical acclaim and garnered a total of 12 Off West End Award nominations, including Best Director. The latter was recently made into a feature-length film.


Other credits include: My Mother Said I Never Should starring Maureen Lipman (St James’ Theatre), Breakfast with Mugabe (Bath Theatre Royal) and The Swallowing Dark (Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse – TMA Award winner).

Tara Finney is joint director of Tiny Fires Ltd. Tara qualified as a corporate solicitor before starting her theatrical career as Resident Assistant Producer at Theatre503 in 2012. She then worked as Producer for Iris Theatre and as Associate Producer at Company of Angels until 2015. Tara now runs Tara Finney Productions and Tiny Fires Ltd, and is currently Interim Producer & Programmer at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.


For Tiny Fires: My Mother Said I Never Should starring Maureen Lipman and Katie Brayben (St James Theatre).


For Tara Finney Productions: the 20th anniversary production of Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh starring Evanna Lynch (Irish Rep Theatre, New York and Trafalgar Studios, London), The Greatest Play in the History of the World… starring Julie Hesmondhalgh (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), Ishq (Sadler’s Wells), All Our Children by Stephen Unwin (Jermyn Street Theatre), good dog by Arinze Kene (National Tour), The Acedian Pirates (Theatre503), And Then Come the Nightjars (National Tour), WINK (Theatre503), Land of Our Fathers (BBC Arts Online, National Tour, Trafalgar Studios and Theatre503).


Other credits include: World Factory (Young Vic, New Wolsey Theatre), Helver’s Night (York Theatre Royal), I, Peaseblossom / I, Caliban (National Tour), Theatre Cafe York (York Theatre Royal), Alice through the Looking Glass, Richard III, Alice in Wonderland, Julius Caesar (Iris Theatre, The Actor's Church), Desolate Heaven, Where the Mangrove Grows, ELEGY, Life for Beginners (Theatre503).