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Francesca Moody: Super Hero

3 July 2013 | Rachel Ridge

According to the cast of Mydidae, producer Francesca Moody is superhuman. Our love of super heroes know no bounds in the London Calling office so we thought it imperative we catch up with Francesca to see what’s made her indestructible!

LC: You have a background in acting, as well as producing. Do you feel it’s an important skill to combine your creative background and commercial skills?

FM: Absolutely! It feeds into everything I do – my creative background for me has ensured that the artistic quality, content and purpose of all of the work I produce is paramount. It means I have a huge amount of creative sensitivity towards work I am involved in and those people creating it and I am able to make creative decisions just as confidentially as I can financial ones.

LC: What made you decide to switch to producing theatre, and did you take any training?

FM: I actually fell into producing by accident – although a series of very fortunate events have led me up to where I am now. I’m completely untrained – or self-taught – but have been lucky enough to work with and have the help of some brilliant mentors – Jen and Louise at Scamp Theatre, Mimi Poskitt at Look Left Look Right, Rachel Tyson at The Bush and Tara Wilkinson at Paines Plough. As well as be surrounded by a supportive creative network in Ideastap Creative Space where I work. 

If I had to pick an over-arching reason - growing up and as an actress I’d always had a very clear idea of what theatre I liked, what was important and why we were making it, so in many respects it was a hugely logical decision for me to take control of those ideas and put them into practice. The theatre has always been such a huge passion of mine and so the opportunity to facilitate and support the work which I think is the most important is a great responsibility and pleasure – so that’s ultimately why I made the switch.

LC: Can you talk us through your typical day?

FM: There’s not really a typical day. It absolutely depends on what stage you are at in terms of the production. At the moment I’m about to put four shows into rehearsals before they open in August so my days are split between the office, production meetings, and watching rehearsals. But in early stages I might be reading scripts, meeting potential creatives, casting, designing marketing material, booking company travel and accommodation – the list is endless. There are a few things which never change - I’m on my phone and e-mails 24/7, I’m constantly checking my budgets and I’m always drinking tea.

LC: Can you talk about your proudest accomplishment as a young theatre producer so far?

FM: Definitely producing Mydidae by Jack Thorne at Soho Theatre and then transferring it to Trafalgar Studios in the West-End. It was a complete baptism of fire and really the first BIG show which I was lead producer on – so the fact that I emerged the other side unscathed alone was an achievement. But really the quality of the show, the people I worked with and critical response we had made it everything that I wanted it to be and firmly cemented my identity as a producer.

LC: In an interview we did with the Mydidae cast, they called you superhuman. Do you think you have to be to succeed in the theatre industry?

FM: Not superhuman – but I think you need drive and passion and a tenacious attitude towards your work. That and you need to be comfortable in the knowledge that to make things happen you might need to spend all day and all night working. Fortunately I can function on very little sleep so it suits me perfectly.

LC: Mydidae was quite an alternative choice, what kind of plays are you drawn to usually?

FM: Anything with a heart – anything that has a purpose – anything that tells a story. I’m always most interested in work which finds a way of engaging its audience beyond just simply entertaining them.  I don’t want to change people’s worlds but I do want to make theatre that allows my audiences to escape, to think, to be provoked – whatever that might be. I’ve got a soft spot for new writing but more than that I believe in a strong creative purpose.

LC: After the success of Mydidae, what projects are you currently working on?

FM: It’s all about Edinburgh Festival for me right now. I have four very different shows which have just gone into rehearsal so it’s going to be a hugely busy summer. FLEABAG, by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, another DryWrite show which is going to be absolutely side splittingly funny at Underbelly; WHERE THE WHITE STOPS, created by the very special Antler Theatre, a magical piece of the physical storytelling at Underbelly; Undeb Theatre’s GARDENING: FOR THE UNFULFILLED AND ALIENATED by Brad Birch, a one man show in a shed to just two audience members at a time which promises to be very special; JEKYLL & HYDE for Flipping the Bird, a new adaptation of the classic with a live original score, and an incredible creative team which will be a sensational evening of entertainment. Phew. If I come out of August alive I’ll be happy.

LC: What are your favourite London theatre venues at the moment and why?

FM: That’s difficult! There are a few:

Soho Theatre - I’ve got a lot of love for that venue after Mydidae – it has such a varied and interesting programme of comedy, new writing and devised work so it feels like a hugely creative hub of energy whenever I go there – coupled with the fact that the bar itself stands alone as a brilliant place to be night and day.

The Royal Court – I’ll always love this venue, there’s nothing more exciting than going to see new plays and it’s a hugely important part of the thriving arts scene in London that we can say we have a central London venue wholly dedicated to new writing and operating as a champion of playwrights.

NT – Because it’s such a beacon of talent and most of the time makes surprising and exhilarating theatre. I’ll be so sad to see Nicholas Hytner leave because I think his programming is out of this world.

BAC – This venue has such a strong artistic policy and I truly respect its approach to supporting my and the next generation of theatre makers – giving them invaluable space and time to develop what has the potential to be some of the most exciting work.

LC: How would you currently describe London’s fringe theatre scene?

FM: Always growing. It depends what you consider ‘Fringe’ but venues are popping up everywhere and people are becoming incredibly creative with the spaces they use to bring their work to an audience. Work being shown on the London Fringe scene can and often is just as and more exciting than some of the work we see at the NT, Donmar Warehouse and in the West End!

LC: Do you have any advice to any you budding theatre producers?

FM: Communication and networking are key to your continued development as a producer, meet, e-mail and follow up, introduce yourselves and expand who you know to expand who you can work with. Continue to explore different arts forms, a strong working knowledge of theatre is paramount to your growth.  Never stop learning, take courses, do research – there are so many different elements to producing and you need to be good at all of them.

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