The Orange Tree Theatre’s incoming Artistic Director, Paul Miller, has publically called for the Arts Council to back his new tenure at the Richmond venue by continuing its support of the theatre as a national portfolio organisation.
“What I want to do today, speaking as a complete novice with 25 years’ experience, is make a very public plea to the Arts Council,” he said at the launch for his inaugural Orange Tree Theatre season. “Back me. Back me and I will deliver.”
He had, he told gathered press and supporters, submitted “an absolutely bold application” for funding for the next three financial years. “Like everybody else,” he added, “I’ve got my fingers crossed.”
The call for support came at the culmination of a speech in which he unveiled a season mixing three world premieres with new productions of works written early in the careers of DH Lawrence, Doris Lessing and George Bernard Shaw, along with the first major revival of Mustapha Matura’s Play Mas.
Miller, who formally takes over from Orange Tree founder Sam Walters on 1 July, also revealed that architect Steve Tompkins, who he described as “the Frank Matcham of our day”, was looking at ways the venues could be improved to “meet the current audience’s standards”, and confirmed that the 20,000 £10 tickets that will be offered to theatregoers younger than 30 across the season is in the hope of “shifting the demographic a little”.
Summarising his hopes for the future of the Orange Tree, Miller said: “This season is a down payment. In the future I want the Orange Tree to collaborate more, get out more, make new friends. I want to get the work of the Orange Tree out into the world and bring more of the world into the Orange Tree.”