How did you both meet?
We have met a couple of times through certain theatre friends and chatted once on Grindr, but we properly met whilst working on an all male version of the Pirates of Penzance, that opened at the Hackney Empire and then toured Australia. It started as what we call in the industry a ‘showmance’ and has lasted just over 10 years now.
When did you set up Hope Mill Theatre?
We moved from London to Manchester in early 2015, firstly to get out of London and possibly get on the property ladder. By this point Will had started producing and was performing less, so the seed was planted about possibly starting our own theatre venue. So we started looking at spaces and found the current Hope Mill Theatre space advertised on Gumtree as storage space and we put an offer in with the landlord. Eventually after much back and forth we got the keys October 2015 and opened within 4 weeks. Our first full show didn’t happen until January of 2016.
What can people expect to see at the theatre?
Hope mill has always had a very varied programme, so there really is something for everyone. We are mostly known for our ambitious in house Musical productions, and since opening we’ve produced over 16 musicals ranging from Rent to Aspects of Love, and we continue to produce new and exciting musical titles. We also produce and receive a lot of LGBTQ+ work and new writing and at the moment have just opened a new play called ANIMAL, which is about to transfer to Park Theatre in London. Alongside all of our programming we also run a Theatre School for young people, community choir and orchestra and schools workshops.
How do you choose what appears at the theatre?
Joe is Artistic Director, so takes the lead on programming our received work, which includes Local grass roots theatre companies as well as touring work. But we both work together to programme our in house productions and many of these shows are in the world for over 12 months.
When you are not doing the theatre what do you like to do?
Hope mill is rather all consuming, so it does take up a lot of our lives. However, we have 2 dogs that keep up busy and we like to go on lovely walks with them. We are also food lovers, so any excuse to try a new restaurant or go to our favourite places, we are there. But most of the time it’s relaxing at home.
Do you produce anything for any other theatres?
We have never produced specifically for other theatres. Although before we opened Hope Mill, Will produced 2 family pantomimes at a theatre in Cheshire. However, many of our own Hope Mill productions have transferred to other theatre in London and across the UK.
Who would you most like to work with?
We’ve worked with so many incredible creatives and actors over the years and continue to do so. I think we both would love to have Beverly Knight in one of our productions in the future, or Hannah Waddingham, we actually have parts in mind for them.
Can people pitch ideas to you?
Absolutely. We get sent pitch ideas and show ideas and new scripts all the time. We can’t always promise we can take projects on, but we will certainly look over anything we are sent and if we feel it’s a fit will organise a meeting.
How can people find you and the theatre?
For Hope mill theatre you can go to our website: hopemilltheatre.co.uk or socials @Hopemilltheatre on Twitter or Hope Mill Theatre on Instagram. We share our Instagram and you can find us both @joeandwill5678
Plans for the next 12 months?
We have lots of exciting plans over the next 12 months. Soon we will be announcing our Autumn and Christmas musicals, so keep your eyes peeled for that. We are also developing a lot of new work, so possibly announcements around what we are working on. And hopefully a holiday abroad somewhere, because we really need it.