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The innovative director who is changing the way we experience Shakespeare

Theatre director and performer Amy Gavin shares her insight into the new and unique version of Taming of the Shrew, coming to Hope Mill Theatre
The Taming of the Shrew

Amy Gavin is a performer and director who is completely at home on or off stage at The Hope Mill Theatre.

She has performed there numerous times and has 15 years of experience in theatre, film and television, including Hollyoaks, the fast and frenetic Classic! at the Hope Mill and Edinburgh and the recent set of Vignettes, again at the beautiful Ancoats venue.

Taming of the Shrew at Hope Mill Theatre

Cast of The Taming of the Shrew

She returns to the Hope Mill, as a director and performer in a new reworking of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew, following Lear and many other Bard hits remixed for contemporary audiences produced by HER Productions, Girl Gang Manchester and Unseemly Women.

We caught up with Amy to find out more about this show featuring 12 women with a 10 Things I Hate About You vibe.

How you get into the arts, where do you think your interest stems from?

My friends say I knew I wanted to act from when I was young. I loved Jim Carrey and Bette Midler and wanted to be funny like them. I was very lucky to have a supportive family and to attend Oldham Theatre Workshop and where they encouraged devising and making work.

What was the last thing you saw on stage that blew you away and why?

I saw Gunter by Dirty Hare at the Royal Court (starring Oldham Theatre Workshop alumni Norah Lopez Holden) and it was the perfect mix of anarchy, comedy and darkness. So much talent on stage. Really beautiful but also unexpected. I loved the use of live music throughout and the simple set which enhanced the creativity of the story telling.

Manchester has a thriving arts scene, despite the fact that grassroots theatre is underfunded. Do you feel that there is sense of community and why do you think this is?

Through the fringe scene in Manchester is how I met Hannah Ellis Ryan in the first place!

And we are directing this one together.

There aren’t a lot of producing houses in Manchester so artists are having to make work themselves and the community is always there to support.

There is an amazing choice of different venue and whether it’s attending the shows or sharing posts, I feel people have each others backs and want everyone to succeed.

What do you enjoy the most about directing?

Having an idea and see it come to life.

It’s absolute magic.

Helping an actor unlock something for their character. Also, feeling so grateful when I’m doing it because it’s such a joyous “job”.

The Taming of the Shrew is such a well known text and HER Productions are well knowing for mixing things up. What is different about this production?

This ones for all the 10 Things I Hate About You fans – the film is 25 years old!

We are fully leaning into the play within a play and setting it in a cabaret club.

I’m a cabaret host and Drag King so bringing all that experience (and fun!) to the show.

We have our “Shrews” and they decide it’s time to tell this story, now.

People can expect the unexpected. Clown, pole dance, hobby horses …

HER Productions is a unique company; women supporting other women. How important is it for you as a creative to have somewhere like this?

I will never take for granted how lucky I am get to work with Hannah.

She, as the founder of HER Productions, has made it her mission to support and amplify the voices of women.

She fosters excellent working relationships with all people and is a joy to be around.

As a woman in the creative industry, and now as director in a room full of women there is such a responsibility to create a safe space for them to do their best work.

You have performed at the Hope Mill Theatre. What do you love about this venue?

I first performed there back in 2016! I remember how excited I was to be in such a beautiful venue.

Joe, Will, Naomi, Rhi and the team have done an amazing job at sustaining Hope Mills excellence all these years. I love the bar area and it’s vibe and there is just something special about the theatre.

Full of history, it is a very special place to perform.

If someone is new to Shakespeare and find his work inaccessible due to memories of being told how great he was at school and switching off, what would you say to persuade them to come and see this version of The Taming of the Shrew?

I was definitely someone who thought Shakespeare not only wasn’t for me but that it was my fault I didn’t get it. The truth is, everyone gets it.

The stories, the characters, the love and the pain is all still relevant and Shakespeare really knew how to get it all across.

It’s our job to make sure the audience can follow along and not just understand what’s happening but be enjoying so much they are just swept along with it.

These 12 women will be on that stage absolutely giving it their all and I can guarantee it will be a good time.

The Taming of the Shrew is at the Hope Mill Theatre from 19th – 30th June and it can be booked here

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