Steel Magnolias

3 – 11 February 2017

Steel Magnolias
by Robert Harling

A group of women in Louisiana meet regularly in Truvy’s beauty parlour. We follow them over three years, creating a rich tapestry of life, death and blow dries in this compelling comedy drama.

We asked Director Ean Burgon for an insight into his production:

Why did you choose to direct a play that’s all about women?
There’s something very intriguing about the relationships and trust between women and this play focuses and several different dynamics of those relationships. Mother/Daughter, long term friends, employer/employee and also the experience of women at different stage of their life. To a certain extent the narrative of the play is fairly simple but the relationships between the women, the way they care and support each other is what makes it an interesting play to direct.

How well do you know the film? Will you be bringing that knowledge to the characters?
I remember seeing the film a long time ago and I’m sure there will be some aspects of it that will subconsciously creep in. I haven’t watched it since I decided to direct it and won’t. I like to develop the characters from the script and not be influenced by the visuals of the film. For example, Truvy is played by Dolly Parton in the film. For the Actress playing that part for me we need to discover the fun and energy that the character has but she certainly won’t be in a blonde wig doing a Dolly impersonation

The play is set in a beauty salon. What fascinates you about the setting?
Again I think this is all about the characters feeling safe in the environment they are in and I think (probably) that a beauty salon allows the women that freedom to express themselves. M’Lyyn says at one point not to worry about her husband coming in as he wouldn’t dare, he probably thinks they all run round naked or something.

You also perform on stage at Lyceum Theatre Oldham (LTO). Which do you prefer? Acting or directing?
Difficult question. I enjoy both in different ways. If I had to choose then it would be acting. That’s only really because I think I will have plenty of time to direct plays when I can no longer remember lines. The only thing I don’t like about directing is that as you hit first night the cast and crew are fired up with the adrenalin of enjoying the run of the play and for the director this is almost their job done so you sort of slide down as they are going up. I’ve found the answer to this, I stage manage my own productions so I can enjoy the journey with the rest of the cast and crew.

What’s special for you about LTO?
I think the LTO is a very supportive place to work on theatre and storytelling. We all want the best we can possibly produce and work very hard to make it happen.

It’s a play about women. What’s going to attract men to see the play?
I hope that men will see this as a play about relationships between people irrespective of their gender. Maybe some would also like a bit of a peak into that secretive world of the Beauty Salon!

haha! Thanks Ean