Melli Bond's Dream: The Park Theatre

"We had a dream to build and run a theatre"

Melli Bond and Jez Bond with Patrick Stewart
at the fundraising gala

I recently caught up with fellow American actress Melli Bond to ask her about London's new Park Theatre and her role as Creative Director. Next to Finsbury Park tube station the building is a two-theatre complex and has just announced its opening season, including the UK premiere of an American play.

How did you end up in London and where did you train?
MB: "I went to The University of South Carolina and I went to University of Hull - that's how I ended up in the UK - and London is the natural place to live in the UK if you are in our industry."

How have you found being an American actress in the UK?
MB: "It certainly makes you different from other people that's for sure. The career comes with lots of variety - just like being in LA or New York - you have to be able to do everything. It's brilliant traveling to other countries to work too - it's such a fun career. I just love acting."

How did you become Creative Director of The Park Theatre?
MB: "I've worked as an actress, workshop teacher, choreographer and a director. I did my postgraduate in theatre production and I even wrote about building a theatre in my dissertation. I am Creative Director of Park Theatre because I started this project with Jez Bond over four years ago. We had a dream to build and run a theatre. We looked for an area that didn't have arts provision - so we could make a difference to a community. We want to have an international reputation and the best way to begin that is by getting people in the door.  How do you make sure they get to your new theatre? Well, you need to be accessible to public transport. The building we discovered in Finsbury Park ticked those two key factors for us."

You are clearly so passionate about the project – what about the Park Theatre most excites you? 
MB: "We are making our dream and vision come true in the realisation of this building which is strongly rooted in our own ethos. We found it, we gutted it, we raised the money, we set up as a charity, we named it and we've branded it. It is our baby - and I feel like I'm giving birth to one hell of a large baby!"

You raised over £100,000 at your star-studded gala at Shakespeare’s Globe in October 2012 hosted by Sir Ian McKellan, on top of the £2.5 million you’d already raised for the theatre. What do you think motivated people to donate so generously? 
MB: "This is an independent theatre - we are not a council scheme and we are not government funded. We are industry professionals with a passion for the arts and dedicated to bringing wonderful theatre to a very arty community that did not have a theatre prior to us in which to call home. Everyone at our gala understood how critical raising £100,000 was - without that we would not be able to offer a place for creative learning, R&D or rehearsal space. These keys things are fundamental to us - and people like Ian McKellen truly understand how vital this is for us within our mission and vision."
Support the Park Theatre by becoming a Friend.

Last week you announced the Park Theatre’s inaugural season. Your first play, the UK premiere of These Shining Lives, is by American playwright Melanie Marnich. With your USA roots, is it important to you to include American works in the lineup? 
MB: "Yes it is absolutely crucial. I found These Shining Lives in New York a few years ago. When we first got the building I went to NY immediately and met with the top literary agents to find great plays. I told them our Artistic Policy and what I wanted - and so the reading began. We are committed to being seen and heard internationally. USA is the first stop but believe me there will be many other stops along the way - we have big ties to South Africa so don't be surprised when you see a South African play at our place."
Book tickets for These Shining Lives.

Any words of wisdom for American actors who want to make the move to London? 
MB: "Be careful what you wish for.. it just might come true."

Find the Park Theatre on Facebook
Follow @ParkTheatre on Twitter


Popular Posts