Preview – Night Watch

David Knowles talks to Hannah Ryan and Tim Foster about the upcoming Ook! Production Night Watch

Assembly Rooms Ook Terry Pratchett

David Knowles talks to Hannah Ryan (Director) and Tim Foster (Producer) of Night Watch, Ook! Production’s latest show.

Tim, can you tell us why you chose Night Watch?

One of Ooook! Productions’ aims is to bring Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to the Durham stage (in instalments, we could never fit it all on at once). Night Watch is cited by many people as their favourite book in the celebrated Discworld series. It is a far darker journey than much of Terry Pratchett's previous writing and deals with themes such as the nature of time and history, human morality and death whilst maintaining the aura of satirical comedy that is Terry Pratchett's trademark.

I have always wanted to do Night Watch ever since we set up Ooook! However, as the show calls for a huge number of gritty characters and not insubstantial amounts of everything else to accompany them, I have not had the confidence to go ahead and actually do it but, after a highly successful world première of Small Gods last year, we finally got down to it and, as ever, our fantastic cast and crew have not disappointed!

Can you summarise the story?

Vimes, who is the commander of the city watch, still yearns for the days of patrolling the streets however, during a magical storm he gets thrown back in time and realises that the “good old days” weren’t that great after all. Thrown back in time with Vimes, is the charming but psychotic Carcer who kills John Keel, the man who taught Vimes everything he needed to know about being an honest and decent policeman. Vimes then takes over the role of John Keel so he can teach himself how to be a good copper, deal with a city on the brink of a revolution and get back to the present where his wife is giving birth…

Hannah do you have a favourite moment in the play?

There are so many little lines or moments which just make the play for me, there isn’t really one whole scene I prefer more than others. If I had to pick a section though, I really enjoy a scene right at the end where the Watch are being attacked by a shower of arrows and run into a wool shop where the occupants are completely oblivious of the drama that is occurring right outside their door. It shows that life carries on as normal for everyone else, despite what drama you’re in.

Tim, can you explain why you donate your profits to a charity?

Ooook! has always been keen to promote theatre on a non profit basis and to get people involved, no matter what their theatrical background. Our productions have regularly been popular with audiences and I can't think of any better way to use any money we make.

So why have you chosen the Orangutan Foundation Tim?

Terry Pratchett is a trustee of the Foundation and a fan of orang-utans (if you have read the Discworld books you will certainly have come across The Librarian). As president of Ooook! I wanted to find a worthy charity appropriate to the productions we typically produce. The Orangutan Foundation filled this niche perfectly, both through the Discworld connotations of The Librarian and Sir Terry's own support. Over our last few Discworld productions we have donated over £4500 to them. However, the Orangutan Foundation is not the only charity we support and any money raised by our other productions is likewise distributed to charities that have some relation to the show.

Why should your average Durham student come and see the show Hannah?

The whole play is based on one of Pratchett’s best books and so has a brilliant story line. For anyone who is a Pratchett fan, it’s always fun to see a dramatic retelling of books that you know well but even for non Pratchett fans, there is no reason you wouldn’t follow or appreciate the story. Overall it’s the perfect mix for a play: jokes, fights (including a lot of headlocks), barricades, ladies of negotiable affection and magical time travel and therefore is the perfect way to spend an evening. Oh, and all profits go to charity so there really is no excuse not to see it.

Hannah, do you have a philosophy of acting and directing?

This is my first time directing so it really would be pushing it to say I have a philosophy already. The one thing I have always felt is that set, lighting and sound have just as an important role as acting in making a production polished and enjoyable, so I’ve always had them in the back of mind whilst directing the cast. I’ve also tried to give the actors a lot of free reign as well so that they can bring in any ideas they may have and to give credit where it’s due, some of the ideas they’ve come up with have been brilliant.

Venue: The Assembly Rooms Theatre
Performances: Thursday 16th-Saturday 18th: 7:30pm (+ Saturday Matinee at 2:30pm)
Tickets: £6/£5/£4 – bookings enquiries to timothy.foster@durham.ac.uk