It’s a classic! Neil has the Dickens of a time

PUBLISHED: 11:11 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 14:54 12 May 2010

The cast of Hard Times

The cast of Hard Times

A NEW dynamic stage version of a Charles Dickens classic will be coming to the Cambridge Arts Theatre this month. Based in Victorian England, Hard Times, an uplifting story of childhood, family life and hardship will be staged from November 20-22. The pro

Director Neil Sissons

A NEW dynamic stage version of a Charles Dickens classic will be coming to the Cambridge Arts Theatre this month.

Based in Victorian England, Hard Times, an uplifting story of childhood, family life and hardship will be staged from November 20-22.

The production will explore modern issues such as right and wrong, materialism, bringing up children, and the importance of art.

Director Neil Sissons described the production, based around four actors, as a piece of very exciting story telling theatre.

He said: "If you're dealing with Dickens, you're dealing with a great writer, and your job is to enhance what he's doing.

"This is a really terrific story and beautifully told and that's why it's been so successful.

"You imagine there to be more characters, but the four actors are able to play all the characters.

"I have been very fortunate to have been working with four talented actors. I looked for distinctive qualities in each character and for ways of seemingly passing from one to another with relative simplicity.

"And this is what's so exciting and interesting about the production."

Neil became a director after being an actor and studying drama at Bretton Hall College and Leeds University.

"There was an element of inevitability," he said.

"I felt as if I fell into directing. I was an actor, then woke up one morning and thought I'm not a very good actor, and I realised I knew I couldn't act in the way I wanted to act.

"While I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I wrote a short piece, and when a director dropped out of a production I stepped in. I felt at home and that was it."

Neil believes directors create the environment actors can be creative in.

"The process comes naturally to me. But I'm also interested in what other people bring to the process."

During his career, Neil has spent most of his time directing adaptations of classics.

"This is where my key interest lies," he said.

In the future he said he would like to work with pieces by Tennessese Williams and Beckett.

Neil said although Hard Times could be grim, there was also some wonderful humour.

"People see the production and go away wanting to read the novel," he said.

For tickets which range from £10-£20, call the Box Office on 01223 503333 or visit the website:

www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

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