Q&A – Owen Calvert-Lyons (Oval House Head of Theatre & Artists’ Development)

Owen Calvert-Lyons

The Ovalhouse’s Spring / Summer season 2016 kicked off last month and at the helm of their Theatre and Artist’s Development is newly appointed Owen Calvert-Lyons. He joins the team from The Point and Berry Theatre in Southampton and at a time when the Ovalhouse is going some exciting new changes, it’s set to be an promising season.

We spoke to Owen about moving back to London and what he’s most looking forward to this season.

  1. Congratulations Owen on your new role. Excited or a little scary?

Excited.  Ovalhouse is a fantastic theatre with a great history, which is about to go on the adventure of its lifetime when it moves to a brand new theatre in Brixton, so there is a lot to be excited about.

  1. What are you hoping to bring to Ovalhouse?

I have spent the past three years supporting some of the most exciting theatre companies in the UK, so I am looking forward to bringing them to South East London.  Everywhere I have worked, I have brought theatre to unconventional spaces: car parks, churches, fire stations – so expect surprising theatre in unusual spaces.

  1. You’ve spent a bit of time in the regionals, most recently at The Point and The Berry Theatres in Hampshire, are you thrilled to be in London?

I love this city and its great to be back after three years away.  I love the regions too – there is some extraordinary work being made in the rest of the UK.  I’m planning to bring some of that work into London as well as support London artists to tour to the rest of the country.

  1. There’s been quite a change at Ovalhouse in recent months. How does that make you feel?

Change is always exciting.  I think theatres should exist in a state of perpetual change – it ensures that new ideas have the space to emerge.

  1. What are you most looking forward to in the new season?

I am really looking forward to Seiriol Davies’ new play How to Win Against History – it looks set to be full of fabulous and anarchic fun.

  1. What is the last production you saw at the theatre?

I saw Laura Dannequin’s Hardy Animal at Battersea Arts Centre – a heart-breaking, comic and uplifting one woman show about living with chronic pain.  Everyone should see that show.

  1. What has been your career highlight so far?

I absolutely loved Around the World in Eighty Days at Arcola Theatre – we had so much fun making it and I’m still really proud of that show.  I have just re-made it in Istanbul, in Turkish, which was great fun too.

  1. Who’s your inspiration?

My wife.

  1. Where would you say is the best place for a post-show night cap?

I love the secret bars of East London, like Happiness Forgets or The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town.  Anywhere which will serve up a good Rum Old Fashioned would get my vote.

  1. If you could pick one theatre you’d most like to be locked in overnight, which one would it be?

Wilton’s Music Hall – I love that beautiful old venue – full of atmosphere and the imprint of two hundred years of performance.

Take a look at what’s coming up in the new Ovalhouse season. 

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