Country Images Magazine North Edition November 2017 - Page 54

W hen Adam Penford was about six years old, he went to a panto at Nottingham Playhouse but was too scared when invited to go on stage with other children to join in the entertainment. Despite returning every Christmas, he was never asked to go up again and always regretted it. This is how he assesses that experience: “You have to seize opportunities as they come and put yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes.” Now that the young lad has grown up, he recognises an opportunity and goes for it: he has just taken over at the helm of Nottingham Playhouse. “I always thought one day I’d love to be an artistic director and I always thought the ideal venue would be Nottingham Playhouse.” At the age of 37 Adam is relatively young to be an artistic director. He has already made his mark, announcing not only his first season but his first year in charge of one of the most important regional theatres in the country. And some people may be astonished to learn that he has secured a television megastar to appear in one of his productions. Mark Gatiss is known as one of The League of Gentlemen, has appeared in Doctor Who and played Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock alongside Benedict Cumberbatch. He has agreed to come to Nottingham in November 2018 to play the lead in Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III. So how did Adam persuade Gatiss to take the role? “I’ve worked with Mark before. I knew that I wanted to end 2018 with a big play, something quite spectacular. I love The Madness of George III – I think it’s a modern classic. But I knew I wouldn’t want to programme it unless I knew who was going to play the title character. “When I started to think about actors who could play it, I thought of Mark Gatiss. He’s not afraid to go to a slightly dark side and George III isn’t a wholly sympathetic character – he’s quite belligerent and pretty grumpy. “Mark’s an actor of real range and I just offered 54 | CountryImagesMagazine.co.uk it to him. It turns out he’d always coveted the role, he knew Nottingham Playhouse’s work and he was happy to sign up 18 months in advance. “The truth is we’re very lucky. He’s very much in demand – he’s an Olivier Award winner, so it’s a real privilege.” Adam admits it’s difficult to get actors, directors and designers to leave London and come to the provinces. “The truth is the money isn’t great regionally. So it’s about being canny and offering people an opportunity that they might not necessarily get in London.” Adam Penford was born on March 1st 1980. His father was a painter and decorator while his mother was a primary school teacher. It was when his parents took him to the panto that he got the theatre bug. “I remember walking into the auditorium as a child and there was an adrenalin rush. That led to me seeing a much wider variety of shows when I was a teenager. “I had a real love for the building. I always thought one day I’d love to be an artistic director and I always thought the ideal venue would be Nottingham Playhouse. That’s how