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Mar 25, 2018

James Brining has been Artistic Director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse since 2012. Prior to that, he spent sixteen years in Scotland as Artistic Director of TAG Theatre and then Dundee Rep.

He talks here to Mark Smith about his forthcoming production of Sunshine on Leith, a musical based on the songs of The Proclaimers, which he originated with writer Stephen Greenhorn at Dundee Rep in 2007.

In a wide-ranging discussion, James talks about the challenges and pleasures of returning to a play in a new production, about community and "home", about different versions of ensemble, and about the different theatre "ecologies" of Scotland and England. Finally, he talks us through the thinking behind the massive redevelopment project which is set to close the West Yorkshire Playhouse's two main stages from June, and how he hopes the theatre will turn to face Leeds and "open its arms to the city".

"All the great companies of the historical past—Molière, Brecht, Shakespeare—they're based on actors. [...] There's something about the durational nature of those relationships—creative and personal—that takes the work into a different sort of place. [...] There's a brutal honesty there that I think can deepen the work."

(Photo of James Brining in rehearsals for Sunshine on Leith by Anthony Robling)