Steve Cramer talks to Dominic Hill, who has just been appointed artistic director at the Traverse Theatre, replacing Philip Howard, who leaves in December
Steve Cramer One of the things people will ask themselves about you as artistic director of the Traverse is how much experience of new work you have.
Dominic Hill In terms of my experience, I haven’t done much new work since I came to Scotland, but I did do a bit in London, at places like The Orange Tree and The Bush. I’ve also done a lot of second productions, where you work a lot with the writer.
SC So you were keen to pick up this challenge?
DH I’ve had a fantastic five years at Dundee, and I think I’ve developed a lot as a director, but I think it was time to move on. It’s nice not to be thinking: ‘What play by a dead writer should I revive now?’ Also, that question of how am I going to make it relevant, how am I going to make this play, written hundreds of years ago, about today? I do feel I needed to do work that has an immediacy, relevance and accessibility, and with plays written today, that’s what you do. The reason why I became a director was that at university I used to read new plays and think: ‘This is really exciting, people need to see this.’ So coming here, where you can direct a play where people don’t know what’s going to happen in the end will be good.
SC The Traverse has tended to focus on specifically Scottish writing in recent years. Will that change?
DH There’s a huge raft of writers that I admire, but it’s not just Scottish playwrights. The core of the Traverse is always going to be developing new Scottish writing, but I’m interested in putting that work in a broader context. The Traverse is an internationally renowned theatre, which already has the Greigs, the Harrowers, the Hannans, the Patersons and so on which it has developed. I’m interested in putting writers like that in a context with other UK writers, like Dennis Kelly, Simon Stevens and so on. It feels like this theatre can be a home for them, just as English theatres have staged work by writers from Scotland, like Zinnie Harris and Douglas Maxwell. My desire is to put on more work, and the best work I can.
SC How will the building feel under your artistic directorship?
DH I would like a building that has a buzz and puts on a lot more work. It would be great to get to the point that there was different stuff on all the time, even for runs of less than a week. I want it to be an inspiring place to be in. There’ll be a lot more partnerships with other companies. It needs to be inspiring not just for the time of the Festival, but for the other 47 weeks of the year.