Mark Bixter on producing 40 Years Young, which took place on September 12, 2010.
When people ask me “What do you do at the Young Vic?” I struggle to give them a succinct answer, since working here I have been known as box office assistant, usher, stage crew, finance assistant, project researcher, press assistant, box office duty manager, social networking person, cleaner, theatre officer, two boroughs assistant, balloon modeller and now it seems blogger! However in recent weeks I awarded myself with the title producer – nobody else called me this but I liked the sense of self importance it gave me so I kept up the pretence and this is the story of how it happened…
A few months back Lucy Woollatt the Executive Director at the Young Vic said “Mark – we’re planning an event to celebrate 40 years of the Young Vic would you be interested in helping put it together?” “Sure” I said “sounds good” “Great” said Lucy “We don’t know what it will be yet but I guess you’ll figure that out” and so the idea was born and with an insanely naive view of how big a task I had taken on the journey began.
A few weeks later I’m introduced to Chris White who will be the director we get on very well and start brainstorming – there is no shortage of ideas, but there is a shortage of time and money so we shelve our plans for a firework display, a fly past of the red arrows and a specially commissioned song to be performed by The Who and head to the theatre museum archive to trawl through 47 boxes of Young Vic history. We start at box one, we have two aims: 1 – to get a good overview of the history of the Young Vic, 2 – to find interesting materials for a display that will completely change the look of the front of house areas. After 8 hours we have got to box number 7 – I get my first glimpse of the enormity of the job.
A couple of weeks later after 3 more days sat in the bowels of the theatre museum we finally reach box 47, we have 12 boxes of stuff and cart them back to the Young Vic. From our research we have a working knowledge of productions and staff from the past 40 years and begin to set plans in place. Aside from the front of house display we decide to interview as many people as possible who have worked at the Young Vic for a listening post, we will speak to all the artistic directors (Frank Dunlop, Michael Bogdanov, David Thacker, Tim Supple, Julia Bardsley and David Lan) and ask them what they feel defined their tenure and represent it in the main performance, we will include some work with young people, we will include some music from Young Vic shows, we will look at Shakespeare as there have been so many Shakespeare productions, we will have some new writing… in short the event starts to take place.
Mark Bixter, Duty Box Office Manager (slash – producer, box office assistant, usher, stage crew, finance assistant, project researcher, press assistant, box office duty manager, social networking person, cleaner, theatre officer, two boroughs assistant, balloon modeller and blogger)