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Lesley Manning- interview

Currently playing at the Chiswick Playhouse, Love Dance depicts a story of a strong-willed woman named Rose, determined to balance her independence with longing for motherhood. When she collides with sarcastic maverick rockstar Adam, the bittersweet comedy describes their journey together.

You can read my full review of the piece here:

Lesley Manning, who has had huge successes in both her theatrical and film work, directed the piece, and I was keen to know more about her career.


What drew you towards directing Love Dance?

It's a story I love. I think it speaks to professional women all over.

Can you tell us a little about your experience working as a director?

I have come to theatre later in life. I started as a film maker and a moving picture director.

I am sure my methods are unorthodox but at the end of the day I am working towards credible performances, with imaginative choices, interestingly blocked and always reaching out to touch the audience in some way, whether it be laughter, tears, fright or fun.

What do you think has been a success about this production, and is there anything you would change if you could do it again?

Talking to audiences after the show, it seems to have touched working mothers deeply. I believe this is unique in that they feel they have been heard.

Is there a part of Love Dance that you particularly favour?

Too hard to say - I do always laugh in the same places.

Lesley has been director for some highly praised works such as the BBC horror film 'Ghostwatch', and theatre show 'Delivery'.

You have directed a whole range of film and theatre over your career. How do these differ, and do you prefer one to the other?

I adore directing actors which of course is common to film and theatre, but also I love realising moving images. The huge surprise for me directing theatre is that your audience has such an immediate and visceral reaction to the material, in a very personal way.

Are you able to discuss any upcoming projects?

I have a small shelf of film scripts I really want to make and yes more theatre to direct. Andy Walker is writing more - I hope to be directing more.

What advice would you have for an aspiring director?

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” - as the Chinese proverb goes.

It may seem tough to get started but just do your stuff and someone will notice.

Lastly, who inspires you, and why?

So many people inspire me: Hitchcock for his suspense, clarity and camera choices, Billy Wilder for humour, [the] Coen brothers for everything, Gondry for imagination, Penny Marshall for being one of the first female Hollywood directors (that very few have heard of), Carol Reed for 'The Fallen Idol', Sidney Lumet for his craft and lack of ego, Spielberg for filling the cinemas with every generation, young and old, Viola Spolin for her theatre games, Bette Davis for her wonderful choice of female roles and stories, Richard Dreyfus, an original, and Jack Lemon, for his extraordinary humorous roles.

I could go on forever - yes, my education was almost entirely in film.


Many thanks to Lesley for her great contributions to this interview- it has been wonderful to find out a bit more about her work, and I look forward to seeing what she gets her hands on next.

Get your tickets to Love Dance at the Chiswick Playhouse until 4th December here:

{Some grammar is amended for clarity}


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