26 April 2020

Isolation Interviews: Violet Mackintosh - The Violet Curtain

Next up I have Violet Mackintosh. Violet runs the blog The Violet Curtain. Violet set up her blog earlier this year and also writes for @mytheatremates. Violet is a student but has previously been a production assistant at the Edinburgh Fringe and has done some stage management work at the National Youth Music Theatre and in Vienna.

Q - What was the first piece of theatre you remember seeing?
A - My first memory of theatre is when my parents took me to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dream Coat (Lee Mead - 2007). I remember being such a grump that day and not wanting to go, and then being completely blown away by the music. Two days later I knew all the colours of his coat off by heart and I’ve never looked back.

Q - What inspired you to get blogging about theatre?
A - Ever since I started stage managing, I began to have a newfound respect for the complexities of putting together a production. I noticed things about props, quick changes and other technical aspects which others missed, and I realised I had to write about it. The more I write, the more I notice. I love the theatre, how it brings strangers together just for one night to share a common experience and then they take a small part away with them into their lives. I wrote responses and reviews just for me, to consolidate what I had seen. I found I was also giving recommendations to friends and family. So, I decided to put it all together on one website. Even now with no theatre, I still review online shows, write opinion pieces and look forward to the moment when theatres can open their doors once more.

Q - Whose performances/productions have had the biggest impact on you?
A - The first production which comes to mind is The Phantom of the Opera, which I first saw when I was quite young. I can actually pinpoint the moment when I first realised that people could be good and bad at the same time. It was when the lights came up on my tear-stained face in Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Then in 2017, I went to see Angels in America at the National Theatre (Parts One and Two: eight hours in total). I queued for four hours from 5am to get the tickets and it was worth it. There are no words to describe this epic play, but I felt like a different person when I stepped out those doors. I knew then that theatre is not just a traditional structure, it can be anything. Whether it is 45 minutes or eight hours, if people are watching: it’s theatre.

Violet

Q - What is your favourite movie musical?
A - 
How long have you got?!

•If I want a laugh – Singin’ in the Rain
•If I want a cry – West Side Story
•If I want a dance – Chicago
•If I want a singalong – Les Mis

All-time favourite: The Sound of Music

Q - What are your favourite show tunes
A - 
•All I Ask of you – The Phantom of the Opera
•Me and the Sky – Come from Away
•Something Wonderful – The King and I
•America – West Side Story
•Last night of the World – Miss Saigon

Q - What are your favourite theatres to visit?
A - 
•Berliner Ensemble
•Her Majesty’s Theatre
•The Old Vic
•The Young Vic
•Anywhere at the Edinburgh Fringe

Q - What have been your favourite productions across the years?
A - 
We could be here all day if I talked about every single one, but here is a couple:

•A Midsummer Nights’ Dream: Watch Your Head Productions, Savill Garden. This was an immersive outdoor production in summer, and it was one of the few times I have ever truly experienced Shakespeare.
•Twelfth Night – National Theatre – This is actually being streamed tomorrow on Youtube (tune in!) I went to see this just after I had done a production of Twelfth Night, with all of my cast. We were all mouthing along and laughing at the differences between our production and this one.
•Come From Away – I was sceptical of this show given its subject matter, but then I saw it. It was magical. It strikes completely the right tone and it really is a celebration of humanity. I actually saw this in Toronto, and the Canadian spirit was palpable.

Q - If you could have dinner with three theatre-related guests, who would you invite and why?
A - 
•Sir Cameron Mackintosh (no relation of mine, unfortunately). We need to discuss our common last name. The theatre industry ain’t big enough for both of us!

•Lyn Gardner – She is the queen of theatrical criticism and I would love some tips.

•Sir Tim Rice – I would like to have a discussion with the person who wrote my favourite musical lyric rhyme. Joseph: “All these things you saw in your pyjamas are a long-range forecast for your farmers”

Q - I know you’ve had some experience with stage management, could you tell me a little more about those experiences?
A - I got into stage management sort of by accident because I loved acting and had never thought about all the other aspects of theatre. One time I didn’t get into a play, so I signed up to help backstage and I realised that it really suited my skill set. I loved having more power and organising proceedings. I have found myself in some very odd situations as a stage manager, whether it’s a rare prop request, standing in for an actor or running around London looking for a specific length screw to hold the set together on opening night, it’s always very much second-degree fun! If I had three rules for stage management, they would be: always stay calm, write everything down (you never know when you might need it) and always have a plaster on you.

Since then I have worked with the National Youth Music Theatre on their productions at The Other Palace Theatre, London and also as a production assistant at the Edinburgh Fringe. Edinburgh is crazy but I am so happy to have been a part of that in 2019. It was very upsetting, but hardly surprising, when this year’s festival was cancelled. I hope Edinburgh 2021 will return bigger and better than ever. I have also done some directing/producing and hope to do more in the future.

Q - Away from the theatre what are your other favourite hobbies?
A - When I’m away from the theatre I am probably thinking about theatre! I also love playing lacrosse, reading historical fiction and speaking German. I have also taken up knitting in lockdown.

Q - Can you tell us one random fact about you
A - My family invented Quality Street and Rolos.


I'd like to thank Violet for her time in taking part in this interview. You can visit her site www.thevioletcurtain.com and can follow Violet on Twitter https://twitter.com/violet_curtain

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