The Badger’s Theatre Editor, Ollie Lugg, has a chat with Joshua Clayton, Director of the upcoming Sussex Music and Theatre Society’s Cabaret!
Check your diaries at the beginning of March for Sussex’s Music and Theatre Society are proud to present the musical spectacular that is Cabaret. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, Cabaret follows struggling writer Clifford Bradshaw from Pennsylvania as he travels to the German capital for inspiration and falls in love with the delightful and gorgeous Sally Bowles, a nightclub performer at Berlin’s ‘hottest nightspot’: the Kit Kat Club.
Set against the backdrop of a crumbling Weimar Republic, Cabaret follows this love affair and the lives of other Berliners as they struggle to survive against a rising undercurrent of Nazi xenophobia. Here, I talk to director Joshua Clayton on his first solo directorial experience.
What attracted you to direct Cabaret?
Exploring the microcosm of characters at a time of such political strife.
Have you included elements from previous theatrical productions of Cabaret?
I have watched theatre productions online of the 1990s adaptation in which Alan Cummings played the highly-sexualised Emcee as well as seeing the 2014/15 revival with Emma Stone. I have also watched a clip of Cummings and one of my other favourite actors, Darren Criss, dancing together and Cummings has still got it.
You have acted in previous performances at Sussex University. Why the change from acting to directing?
From first auditioning and subsequently getting roles for SMUTS productions, I knew I wanted to climb the rungs of the theatrical ladder and get as involved in as many facets as possible.
Have you taken anything from your prior acting experience and transferred it to directing?
I had never worked on a performance in such a small time frame before. However, this has proved no problem as I have enjoyed the more pressurised process of working towards a desired outcome. There is no room for messing around which has been made apparent in other productions I have been involved in.
Cabaret is set in the seedy Kit Kat Klub. With Mandela Hall being the size that it is, how will the stage be directed to make the setting look authentic?
I admit that it has been a challenge to produce a show in a larger than usual environment, but I have relished the opportunity at doing so. Having previously been involved in productions at the Sallis Benney Theatre and The Old Market, with all the equipment being there and already in place, much more thought was needed this time with regard as to what to include and where to place it. Rather than working with what was already there, the team had to work from scratch.
This year, Emcee is to be played by Andrew Crouch, which gives me high hopes for the success of this SMUTS production as anything I have previously seen him in has been a must-see. Performances set for March usually involve starting preparation from October/November time. Therefore, the fact that cast members were only allocated just before the Christmas break illuminates the dedication that must have come from all involved. Clayton’s first solo attempt at directing, he is charmingly grateful for the efforts from the committee and the production team. I hope the enjoyment I had in interviewing Joshua Clayton is reflected in the reception that his adaptation of Cabaret will receive. I am confident it will.