Find courage in times of adversity this Christmas, says Artistic Director Suzann McLean

"Christmas shows are often the first introduction for a child to the theatre. I want to inspire young audiences so they can see that theatre is truly inclusive and that they too can reach their ambition to perform on a professional stage."

Find courage in times of adversity this Christmas, says Artistic Director Suzann McLean

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m Suzann McLean: mother, wife, daughter, actress, Artistic Director and CEO of Theatre Peckham. 

Describe your production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” in 3 words.

Comical | Quirky | Heroic 

What is the premise of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and what inspired this work?

The message I take from this popular story is about making the most of the opportunities that come your way. It’s something I try to live by and want to encourage the young people at Theatre Peckham to find courage in times of adversity. 

What are you particularly looking forward to about this production?

I’m just loving the mix of child actors and seasoned professional actors. It’s honestly so enjoyable to watch the likes of esteemed actor Michael Bertenshaw bouncing his fantastic timing off our 12-year old Jack.

Have you faced any particular challenges during the creative process?

This script was first performed at Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2012. We wanted to revamp it to fit our local family audience and showcase the young cast. The script and the songs have had a 2019 make-over which has been amazing.

What do you hope this show will achieve?

Christmas shows are often the first introduction for a child to the theatre. In our Theatre Peckham productions, we have the added magic of having young actors playing lead roles. I want to inspire young audiences so they can see that theatre is truly inclusive and that they too can reach their ambition to perform on a professional stage. 

Many of the performers in this production are young actors and actresses themselves. How do you think this impacts the production?

It’s refreshing. Our young actors are natural and real. They are in lead roles and are able to bring truth to their characters. This affects the audience in a deeper way because we watch a genuine child try to save their family from poverty, make some mistakes, find self-belief and come out on top.

Theatre Peckham is a Learning Theatre, we give practical experiences to young people that are of a professional standard in a professional environment so that they can elevate their skills from a young age.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Be brave.

How can people find out more?

Jack and the Beanstalk is on from 4th – 22nd December with a mix of showtimes to suit everyone, morning, matinee and evening. Theatre Peckham Academy classes take place every day of the week. 

Author

Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Sienna is the Voice Assistant Editor and author of the Creative Education series. A de-caf coconut-milk latte gal who spends most of her time in Cambridge cafes, Sienna is currently on a gap year before studying History of Art at the University of Cambridge.

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