Award-winning Bristol-based theatre company Travelling Light are welcoming Heidi Vaughan as their new Artistic Producer. In this interview, we find out about Heidi’s background, her plans for the new role, and why she loves theatre for young audiences…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was brought up just over the Severn Bridge in the Forest of Dean with very little access to the arts but with a vocation to story telling, live music and bringing people together. At 15 I was offered 2 weeks work experience at Bristol Old Vic, which opened up the brilliant possibilities theatre gives us all. Since then I’ve worked all over the country, making and shaping work, largely for young or community-based audiences. I’ve seen how stories and song bring communities closer and celebrate what matters to us all.
Why did you want to work with Travelling Light?
I’ve had a long standing admiration of the company; in fact, Tir Na N’Og was one of the shows I saw during that work experience week at Bristol Old Vic! Over the course of the last 20 years I’ve seen around 14 of their shows and have been delighted, inspired and reassured by the company’s continued commitment to quality and young audiences.
In addition to this, the workforce here are extraordinary; their collective talents and passion to make great work for young people is worn in their smiles.
What can audiences expect from Travelling Light under your direction?
An openness to hear brilliant creative ideas, making work that is really committed to reaching those with the least access to the arts, an ambitious look at what theatre for young audiences and their families can be, and investing in those young artists of the future.
You have so much experience with theatre and young people – what are some of the things you have learned throughout your career that will help in your new role?
Play, laugh, and allow yourself to fail. Surround yourself with brilliant people and don’t overcommit!
You’re joining Travelling Light in June. What are you working on until then?
I’m continuing my role (Artistic Director) with Kazzum until June and I’ve several big projects with them, which I’m lucky to see through to the end. I have three Inclusive workshops to deliver; one at a leading drama school, the other at the National Theatre and the last in Cape Town at an international conference specialising in work for young audiences. I’m running a series of workshops for a Pupil Referral Unit in Tower Hamlets, with some amazing young people and staff as well as preparing for a show for Kazzum which takes place in November at Shoreditch Town Hall.
I’m also starting gentle handover conversations with Jude Merrill, my predecessor at Travelling Light. Jude has a great eye for enabling brilliant work and a generous heart to match, so we’re going to be spending more and more time together in the hope that her legacy is handed over in the most respectful manner possible.
What kind of theatre do you like to make?
I like to make theatre that is theatre; by that I mean I don’t try and replicate television or film. I tend to make theatre that is driven by a strong sense of story, one that never forgets the audience and tends to be somewhat playful and mischievous in style.
Why do you love theatre for young audiences?
Because young people are simply the most curious, open, fun-loving, frustrating, challenging and awe-inspiring people I have ever met. Why would I want to work anywhere else?!
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