The Norwich Playhouse opened in 1995 and has recently
received a £325,000 loan from the city council to help secure
Timothy West, a former artistic director at the
Old Vic in Bristol, talks about his role in King Lear and how he
hopes the government will provide more funding to councils for arts
Is King Lear the part every actor aspires to
It's very rewarding and very infuriating because every night you
feel like you're climbing an enormous mountain and sometimes you
get half-way up and other times you're just in the foothills.
Timothy West in the English Touring Theatre's
It would be nice to do it seven times a week with
the same sort of perfect performance - but there's no such thing.
Today you're at the Norwich Playhouse.
It's lovely to be back.
What is it that you like about the playhouse?
When Henry Burke built it with a lot of advice
from different people he was after an adaptable stage which would
do for about the right number of people in a very nice setting by
the river with a little courtyard.
It was originally designed as a producing theatre
- what we used to call a rep - but that didn't work.
Possibly there are too many theatres in Norwich,
with the Royal at one end of the scale and the Maddermarket at the
Maybe it wasn't necessary to have a professional
repertory theatre, which we thought might be needed.
But it does very well at what it does at the moment,
which is take shows for one or two night visits. A
great variety of things: jazz concerts, plays, little musicals.
The playhouse has been loaned money by the city
council to lift the weight of responsibility of debt.
Is there anything which you think the government could do to ease
the situation of theatres?
Yes, I think they could. I think if there was some
sort of mandatory provision to local authorities for the arts -
which there never has been, it's up to local authorities to find
their own pennies - that would ease things enormously.
It would have to be under control and it would
be. You can't just have people sprouting up things which are fun
But for a project like this, it is wonderful that
we've been let off the accumulated debt which was bound to occur.