Robert Hyman has been the Musical Director for Theatretrain from day dot, which means he’s also seen it all and been on this journey with us. At the Scoop at the More event last month, we took a moment to chat to Robert:
What is your Theatretrain story?
Thirty years ago I knew a guy called Kevin who said, would you like to come and do some music for me? I’ve just started this tiny, once centre, theatre school. And he wanted to do a show, and I think the first one had three centres in it, and he said, I’d really like a live band, can you do that? I said, I can sort that out. And I really loved what Kevin was doing.
What is it Kevin was doing?
What he was doing was putting the students, the kids, right front and centre. And it was all about them, it was all about giving them the experience. And he wanted them to experience theatre in its totality. It wasn’t just about, okay come on stage, say a few lines… off you go. He wanted a live band, he wanted them to have that feeling, that amazing feeling that you get with live music. A band is like an engine room, underneath you get this incredible energy. And it gives you this extraordinary experience.
How would you describe the impact of live performance?
Anybody that’s gone through that experience, it doesn’t matter whether you’re five, or eight, or ten, you grow as a person. Because you go “that was amazing, I want to do it again, I want to do more and I want to do it better.” So people want to do it, and as more people do it, it grows. So, people grow in themselves and at the same time, Theatretrain’s grown to be this huge organisation trying to give thousands of kids this incredible experience, like we had today [at Summer by the River]. I mean, it was palpable, the energy in the room – all these students, going “oh, I haven’t been able to do this in so long, I missed it,” and boy, didn’t they give and then the audience are just bowled over by this wave of sound and energy, and skill and commitment. And then they give back their applause and the kids are “oh, wow I love that, let’s give even more”. It’s like this extraordinary artistic game of tennis. Where this ball just goes back and forward. And that’s performing, and that’s theatre. And, like I say, Kevin’s always put the kids front and centre and I’ve always believed in that, and we’ve worked together for thirty years now.
What is your favourite part of being involved with Theatretrain?
One of the biggest pleasures for me is watching children change and grow and they come back show after show. The commitment that Theatretrain engenders is amazing. So, we’ve got kids who started with us when they were five or six and they’re still with us right up to when they’ve got their exams. Because they don’t want to leave, because they know that every time we do a show it gets better. The experience gets better but they get better in themselves. And it’s wonderful, every time we do big shows, I get lots and lots of auditions for soloists. And it’s amazing that a lot of the good students audition again and again. I get to watch these videos and watch their voices grow and mature. Not just their voices, their whole personality, their confidence.
How does Theatretrain impact the students?
Performing, the performing arts, singing, dancing, acting. Getting the confidence to do something in front of an audience is so good for you as a person. You just grow, it gives you confidence to go out in the world and be whoever you’re gonna be. You may not be a singer or dancer, but just to be in the world and doing what you do, something like Theatretrain, just gives you the confidence to go; you know what, I can do this. I really can do this, so whether they become architects, doctors, politicians, carers – they have this confidence. And Theatretrain gives them that and I think that’s something very special.
You can also watch Robert’s interview, here:
If you enjoyed this, you might also want to check out our Q&A with Founder and Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett. If you’re interested in joining us you can find your local centre or discover what it takes to open your own centre.