Interview with James J. Larbow
Phoebe Kris interviewing James J. Larbow, Studio Brunel's Artistic Director and Producer
Scribed by Fabbio Scarito
What sparked the thought of Studio Brunel?
I think initially it came from a place of wanting to perform really. We wanted to create something that people could use that wasn’t just individual, but could help them towards something bigger than just their degree. And could give them strings to their bow that they didn’t have. But initially, it came from a place of not having the opportunity to perform as much as I’d like, and we found that other people were feeling the same.
Working with other students must provide some interesting experiences. Have there been any standout moments when working with students?
Yes, of course there have. I remember Gavin Thatcher, in the run up to our first- well before we even received funding we sat down and had a conversation and he warned then the kind of difficulty of putting hierarchy over your peers, whether you’re older or younger, you’re still going through the same processes as them. So it was always a challenge that we were aware of going in, and of course I think in the number of roles that I’ve played in Studio Brunel, from directing a couple of shows to recently being in a show it’s been a really interesting kind of journey of how to balance your responsibility with your professionalism and everything else.
Besides subsidising Studio Brunel, what support has Brunel provided? Considering the company is not part of the union.
I think the biggest thing we get from the university is the staff’s passion and time. Of course there are professional differences and all of that, but it’s probably the thing that keeps us on our toes, the professionalism of a lot of the staff. And I think whilst this experience has challenged them in many ways, that in turn has challenged us back. That is one of the most rewarding things of the whole experience is that we have managed to make changes to process and roles across the university, and that has been really lovely to be a part of.
Has that provided any valuable experience to you as a creative? If so, how?
Yeah, I think I say on the site that spearheading this project has been one of the most tricky and tiring things I’ve ever done, however I wouldn’t have changed it for anything because it’s also made me a better creative person, it’s made me a better person and a better professional definitely, but also when you come to uni, it's very easy to put yourself in a sort of pinhole if you like of ‘oh I want to do this, I want to do that’ this project has allowed me to do everything and others, that’s what’s been great about it.
Has it changed your perspective on producing theatre?
Definitely. I was talking about this the other day, I think there is a real thin line between the process of an actor or performer and the process of putting on a production and travelling along that line has been a very interesting journey to figure out. Balancing many different skill sets with different experiences has been tricky. You get some people who are really experienced and like to work a certain way, but you also get people who have never been on stage before and who are happy for you to do what you like, so that has been a really interesting thing to balance between. It’s something I hope we have done well, I would hope.
Any last comments you’d like to share?
Yeah, I’d just like to thank everyone who’s been involved, all the students and staff. We’ve made some fantastic friends and hopefully have built contacts that can take us into the industry and I hope to stay in contact with these people for the foreseeable future, if not my entire life!