Interview: Martin Derbyshire, Executive Producer of Stockroom on Influence and Collective Theatre

In September this year Stockroom came together in partnership with Collective Acting Studio to create the new venue the London Borough of Islington. The Grade II listed building was originally Hornsey Road Baths.

Earlier this year its usage was secured by Collective Acting Studio to be home to a drama schoo and Stockroom has now joined to run the theatre in the buildingl. As well as a theatre with two performance spaces seating 100-150 people in each, the building also houses related dressing room and green room facilities, a café/bar, a recording studio, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, library and office space.  The whole building will be home to the Collective Acting Studio operations and its drama-related educational programs.

Influence, which opened the theatre last week, is written by members of Stockroom’s Writers’ Room, a cooperative of nine pay-rolled writers under contract to collaborate on the creation of new work for the stage. Starring Kit Young (Shadow And Bone – Netflix, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Bridge Theatre, Macbeth – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) and directed by James Hillier (Artistic Director of Defibrillator – Foxes – Defibrilliator, Sunnymead Court – Arcola and tour) it plays until 2 December.

We caught up with Martin Derbyshire, the executive producer of Stockroom to hear more about the Influence and what it’s like to open a new theatre in London.

Q&A with Martin Derbyshire

How does it feel to be opening Collective Theatre?

It’s been a fantastic experience so far. Opening a new space in such a collaborative way with a drama school while also rehearsing our first show has made it all the better. It’s been a lot of hard work but fun, too. I can’t thank everyone who has been working so hard to make this happen enough.

How much work has gone into getting to this moment?

It’s been something that we’ve been planning ever since we discovered we’d not been successful in getting our Arts Council NPO funding. We knew we needed to do something different in order to survive and hopefully thrive. We moved into the theatre with Collective Acting Studio at the start of September so it’s been an intense period of refurbishment and getting to know the space. A lot of work but very rewarding.

What can you tell us about the first production running at the theatre, Influence?

I’ve just watched a rehearsal and this is going to be something very exciting. I’ve never seen anything like it before in the theatre and it’s not often you can say something like that. I can’t give too much away but it’s a fun, magical and theatrical experience that certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve brought together a wonderful creative team and they’ve done a fantastic job.

There will be a lot of interest in the involvement of Kit Young in the play – what was it like to get him onboard?

When James Hillier came on board as director he was insistent that Kit Young was the actor he wanted for the role. It took quite a bit of work to finally get the deal sorted, but thankfully Kit was just as enthusiastic as James and they work so well together. We’re all thrilled to have Kit playing The Magician, he’s a special talent.

What else can we expect from Stockroom at Collective Theatre?

We want to build the theatre into an important part of the London scene that offers something a little bit different. We will focus on building an audience and creating opportunities for artists. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of support from London theatregoers.

Influence opens Collective Theatre on Tillman Place, London, playing until 2 December