BWW Interview: Colleen Neary McClure of West End Productions
For Colleen Neary McClure, artistic director of West End Productions, Albuquerque is a
city full of rich theatre culture that she wants to be able to supplement through her company's yearly shows. In particular, she offers a variety of new and exciting plays that audiences may not have known or seen before. She avoids offering works that may be alienating by their obscurity or focus on British culture. "[It helps] bring something that's interesting and different...a new perspective on what's being presented here."
"We are living in a questionable time," she says. "People want a break from it and to be entertained." This leads to the challenge of creating the 2020 season of West End Productions. In her opinion, British theatre can be very funny, however that humor can turn incredibly dark. Only focusing on three shows each season makes choosing the correct plays easier to some degree. "You can put the ingredients together--different flavors and cultures with each of the shows." This leads to a blend of comedy and drama that is, "all very palpable." In part, this means ensuring that the plays are not too dated and still have a message for the modern audience while not being too politicized. Shining a light on American politics, when done by British playwrights, is something that McClure feels could be polarizing. However, they're not focused on politics specifically. "Throughout history, we have moments that are a challenge, where we have to step up and be brave." This ensures that all plays are timeless in a way, because they represent different aspects of human nature.
One of the draws McClure had with bringing British theatre to American audiences was that she enjoys showing the patrons that theatre from the British Isles doesn't just involve plays with butlers, cockneys, the upper crust, or other well-trodden British stereotypes. "[The characters are] perfectly imperfect in every way."
While McClure enjoys performing theatre, she loves directing it, due to the relationship between the actor(s) and the director. In her opinion, it's a great way to generate professional development. "A director needs to know what it's like to be on the other side of a stage--what it's like for actors--their anxieties and how it feels for them. It's important to feel what they're going through. [...] Communication between the director and actor [can] help bring out ideas and develop ideas." It can lead to seeing the big picture of a production. One of McClure's joys as a director is watching the actors grow and develop their craft and characters during the rehearsals and workshopping of a show.
When it comes to West End Productions' 2020 season, McClure found it to be a challenge in terms of creating the right ingredients for the shows. This is due in part to needing to balance the business side of the show with the lighter side. She says, "[It's] having to take it seriously while maintaining fun."
McClure is very excited to present the 2020 season for West End Productions. Starting it off will be Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer. Directed by Colleen Neary McClure, the play runs from January 24th - February 9th 2020, at the VSA North Fourth Art Center. Black Comedy revolves around a lovesick and desperate sculptor, Brindsley Miller, who has embellished his apartment with furniture and various objects d'arte he "borrowed" from his neighbor, an absent antique collector, in the hope of impressing his fiancee's pompous father, a wealthy art dealer.
Next for the season is the suspenseful play The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter. Directed by Joe Feldman, the production runs from March 6th - March 22nd, 2020. The play involves Gus and Ben, who are waiting for their assignment in the basement of a house. As they wait, they hear a dumb waiter rattling, asking for dishes they cannot supply. But the bigger question is, who is operating the dumbwaiter in an empty house?
Rounding out the season is Hay Fever by Noel Coward. Running from October 16th - November 1st, 2020, the play is directed by Leslee Richards. The plot involves David Bliss, a novelist, and his wife Judith, a retired actress, who are hoping to have a quiet weekend in the country with some guests. That dream becomes an impossibility when the couple's high-spirited children, Simon and Sorel, appear with guest of their own.
For the entirety of the season, performances will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm at the North Fourth Theatre. Tickets are $22 for early online ticket admission and $20 for TLC, students, and seniors (62+). A season pass is also available for $50. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.westendproductions.org/buy-tickets/.