60 seconds with...Matthew Bourne on Swan Lake

Matthew Bourne is bringing Swan Lake to the Festival Theatre, 16-20 October. With a fresh new look for the 21st century, we ask him about this award-winning production.

You first staged Swan Lake in 1995. How do you feel about the prospect of bringing it back to UK audiences? 

It’s always exciting to bring back Swan Lake. So many people love it, and you know they’re going to want to come and see it again […] There’s also a whole new generation of young people who won’t have seen it. ­­

It still seems to move and inspire people and therefore we get excited about doing it because that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to entertain.

You took Swan Lake in a completely different direction from the versions that had gone before it. What motivated and inspired you to do that?

Well, I didn’t see any point in creating a Swan Lake that was similar to any of the others that were around. We’re a contemporary dance theatre company, so we had to tell a story through movement, in a different way.

We needed an idea that could wipe away everyone’s existing memories and images in their heads of the piece, as they had perhaps seen it before in other versions, and the male swans did that very well.

The new staging of the show is being presented as having a fresh look for the 21st century.

We have a new lighting designer who has never seen our Swan Lake before - not on film or on stage – so we’ll get a completely fresh approach […] and we’ve got a completely new cast as well who will bring their own interpretations to the piece.

Everything we’ve done to the piece has been mindful of the fact that people already love the piece - we’re celebrating the piece that already exists.

What if anything is the most important message that you hoped to portray to the audience?

I don’t like to dictate too much to people because I feel people do see the piece in different ways, but for me ultimately it is about someone struggling with who they are and the world they are in.

I think they find it uplifting that this is a story being told about a young man who is confused about his future and about his sexuality. I think that’s something that is very meaningful for young people in the audience as well.

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