Matt Beresford

Matt Beresford

Matt Beresford

Matt Beresford is a director, speaker, trainer and leadership coach. He spent fifteen years working in business, before re-training as a Theatre Director at RADA, followed by an MA at St. Mary’s, University of London. He has directed a series of plays on the London fringe, as well as a number of productions for the amateur stage, including a production of The Recruiting Officer for Teddington Theatre. Matt has been invited to direct a new production of Our Country’s Good at the same theatre in 2022.

He also continues to combine his business and theatre experience to coach teams and senior executives on communication skills and leadership and is passionate about exploring the parallels between theatre directing and creative leadership in business.

Recommended Play(s)

In episode 34 Matt recommended Sunday in the Park with George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

In episode 35 Matt recommended Handbagged by Moira Buffini.

 

 

035 – Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker

035 – Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker

 

 

 

035 – Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker

It is 1789 in the newly formed settlement at Botany Bay in Australia. The Royal Marines are struggling to feed themselves and the community of convicts that they have transported from England. Three men are about to be hanged for stealing food. An officer flippantly suggests that hanging is the convicts’ favourite form of entertainment – “it’s their theatre”. The enlightened Governor of the colony is struck by another idea: that they might put on a real play to distract and entertain the imprisoned population, much against the view of many of his officers who think that any such culture would be wasted on the population of convicts and whores.

This unlikely story of a theatre production being put on by convicts in the new-found colony in New South Wales is true, for a group of those who were transported in what was known as the First Fleet to Australia did in fact put on a performance of George Farquhar’s Restoration Comedy The Recruiting Officer in honour of King George III’s birthday in June 1789. Almost exactly 200 years later playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker was commissioned by the Royal Court Theatre to adapt the story of this extraordinary theatrical enterprise into a new play that could run alongside their revival of The Recruiting Officer. Wertenbaker’s play Our Country’s Good premiered at the Royal Court in 1988, going on to win the Olivier Play of the Year award that year.

The play is now a common set text for Theatre and English Literature studies at both secondary and university level. It’s a vivid portrait of the volatile mix of the two sections that make up the new colony – the officers and the convicts. In the contrasts between the two, and in the parallels drawn with The Recruiting Officer as the convicts rehearse the play-within-play, the play raises timeless questions about what makes for a country’s good, or otherwise: the principles of justice and punishment; the stultifying constraints of class prejudice; the value and availability of education or culture, particularly the redemptive potential of theatre itself.

There is of course an obvious logic in our choosing Our Country’s Good to follow fresh on the heels of our last episode devoted to The Recruiting Officer, and the logic extends naturally to our inviting back our expert guest from that episode, director Matt Bereford. In fact, following his recent production of The Recruiting Officer at the Teddington Theatre Club, Matt will return to direct Our Country’s Good at the same theatre in 2022.

 

Matt Beresford

Matt Beresford is a director, speaker, trainer and leadership coach. He spent fifteen years working in business, before re-training as a Theatre Director at RADA, followed by an MA at St. Mary’s, University of London. He has directed a series of plays on the London fringe, as well as a number of productions for the amateur stage, including a production of The Recruiting Officer for Teddington Theatre. Matt has been invited to direct a new production of Our Country’s Good at the same theatre in 2022.

He also continues to combine his business and theatre experience to coach teams and senior executives on communication skills and leadership and is passionate about exploring the parallels between theatre directing and creative leadership in business.

 

Recommended Play

Matt recommended Handbagged by Moira Buffini.

The Texts
If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them by following the links below. We will earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. Through our selected partners Bookshop.org and Blackwell’s you will also be supporting independent bookshops. Thank you.
Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on Our Country’s Good include observations on the parallels with the play-within-the-play, The Recruiting Officer.

You might also be interested in …
052 – The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov

052 – The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull was a disaster on its opening night in St Petersburg in 1896. The unsettling blend of comedy and pathos that confused the first critics and audience were subsequently recognised as seminal in the evolution of modern drama.

I’m delighted to welcome back playwright and professor, Dan Rebellato, to talk about Chekhov and his timeless play.

051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber

051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber

Patrick Marber’s play Closer depicts a merry-go-round of metropolitan relationships powered by sex and betrayal. Its clever and candid dissection of the destructive power of sexual desire hit a contemporary nerve when it premiered in 1997.
Clare Lizzimore, director of a new production at the Lyric Hammersmith, joins me to explore how the play’s unflinching sexual politics has aged twenty-five years later.

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

Jez Butterworth’s play Jersualem is one of the landmark plays of the 21st century, acclaimed for both its lyrical and elusive text exploring English identity, and for its electrifying theatrical production. The once-in-a lifetime performance is happily being repeated with the current West End revival, and it seems fitting that our 50th episode be devoted to this remarkable play. I’m joined by David Ian Rabey, Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University and author of The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth.

034 – The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar

034 – The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar

 

 

 

034 – The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar

It is 1704 in the country town of Shrewsbury. The army has come to town, or at least a few dedicated officers fresh from victory at the Battle of Blenheim who are here to recruit as many of the local men as they can connive to sign up to serve. While they’re at it, they don’t mind enjoying the pleasures of the local hostelries and of the local ladies. In turn the local ladies are also seeking to recruit for themselves: a husband who will take them away to fortunes new or be corralled to stay and support them and the offspring they plan, or in some cases have already been provided with.

This is George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer,  a rollicking comic satire of love and war, sex and deception, complete with singing and poetry and a woman pretending to be a man to win the love of her man. The play was an immediate hit when it was first performed at Drury Lane in 1706, and went on to become one of the most frequently performed plays of the 18th century, as well as a staple of educational curricula and theatre programming ever since.

There is also a personal reason for my choosing this play for this episode, and inviting my guest, director Matt Beresford, to join me. On the day that we recorded our conversation, Matt was in the final days of rehearsal for a production of The Recruiting Officer which he is directing for our local theatre, and he has been gracious enough to allow me to assist him in this project. If you happen to listen to our conversation before the 25th or 26th of September (2021), and are inspired to do so, you can still catch our production at the Teddington Theatre Club’s theatre in Hampton Hill, southwest London: click here for information and tickets.

Matt Beresford

Matt Beresford is a director, speaker, trainer and leadership coach. He spent fifteen years working in business, before re-training as a Theatre Director at RADA, followed by an MA at St. Mary’s, University of London. He has directed a series of plays on the London fringe, including the first London revival of Rona Munro’s classic prison drama Iron at the Old Red Lion. He has also directed a number of productions for the amateur stage, including a wonderful production of Wind in the Willows for Teddington Theatre.

He also continues to combine his business and theatre experience to coach teams and senior executives on communication skills and leadership and is passionate about exploring the parallels between theatre directing and creative leadership in business.

Recommended Play

Matt recommended Sunday in the Park with George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

 

The Texts
If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them by following the links below. We will earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. Through our selected partners Bookshop.org and Blackwell’s you will also be supporting independent bookshops. Thank you.
Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on George Farquhar’s classic Restoration Drama The Recruiting Officer include observations on the multiple meanings of the play’s title, and the extraordinary story of its first production in Australia in 1789.

You might also be interested in …
052 – The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov

052 – The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull was a disaster on its opening night in St Petersburg in 1896. The unsettling blend of comedy and pathos that confused the first critics and audience were subsequently recognised as seminal in the evolution of modern drama.

I’m delighted to welcome back playwright and professor, Dan Rebellato, to talk about Chekhov and his timeless play.

051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber

051 – Closer, by Patrick Marber

Patrick Marber’s play Closer depicts a merry-go-round of metropolitan relationships powered by sex and betrayal. Its clever and candid dissection of the destructive power of sexual desire hit a contemporary nerve when it premiered in 1997.
Clare Lizzimore, director of a new production at the Lyric Hammersmith, joins me to explore how the play’s unflinching sexual politics has aged twenty-five years later.

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

Jez Butterworth’s play Jersualem is one of the landmark plays of the 21st century, acclaimed for both its lyrical and elusive text exploring English identity, and for its electrifying theatrical production. The once-in-a lifetime performance is happily being repeated with the current West End revival, and it seems fitting that our 50th episode be devoted to this remarkable play. I’m joined by David Ian Rabey, Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University and author of The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth.