An exclusive interview with acclaimed theatre director John Godber OBE about Bouncers, a his modern classic set in in a Yorkshire nightclub. Find out about where the idea for the play came from, its evolution since it was first shown in 1977 and more.
Where and how did the idea for Bouncers come from?
As a teenager I, like many others my age, looked forward to the weekend and the chance to enjoy the excitement of the big city, Wakefield, or even at a stretch Leeds. The nightlife and the clubs seemed utterly exotic compared to the mining village I grew up in. But there were also dangers, and in part it was the frisson of potential danger which made nightlife so exciting. It was this interface which gave birth to Bouncers.
What can audiences expect to see from the show?
Bouncers is a very physical piece of theatre, and it's also very, very funny; counter-pointing the excitement of those out on the lash, against the seen-it-all, boredom of the door staff. Above all however I think it's the honesty of the observations which make us squirm in acknowledgement that we've been there, done that.
How has the play evolved and developed since it was shown?
The 1977 version of the play only had two bouncers on stage, then the 1981 production developed into a four hander, and this stayed the same through the twenty six years I was Artistic Director at Hull Truck. We used to adapt and develop the play with each production, and that's what's emerged today. Sadly however, many of the new ideas were never acknowledged in the published versions of the play, they remain in my head.
What do you enjoy most about touring?
Each venue gives you an insight into that part of the world. Sometimes, surprisingly, plays which you feel won't go down well in a certain venue really hit the spot, and conversely the reverse can be the same too.
What’s the secret to the longevity of the play?
I think plays that have stood the test of time have to have an intrinsic kernel of universal truth at their core. In a way part of the joy of Bouncers is its flexibility. It can be played as a 70 minute cabaret piece or a full evening in the theatre. Not many plays can survive a range of extreme incarnations.
What are you most looking forward to about visiting Newbury?
It's always fascinating to see if the truth of a night out in the north chimes in any way with a night out in the south. This reworked version has tried to come to terms with the changing face of the image of the men on the door, be they Door Supervisors or Bouncers, and the expectations of a good night out are probably the same wherever you go. We shall see!
Bouncers is at the Corn Exchange from Thu 14 - Sat 16 March. Find out more