Academic, Artist, Writer
Michael McMillan was born in 1962, in High Wycombe, of Vincentian (St. Vincent & the Grenadines) parents. Winning an essay competition to FESTAC 77 (Nigeria) at 15 changed his life. His first play, The School Leaver was produced for the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writer’s Festival in 1978. His plays have either been produced either independently or with Channel 4, New Perspectives, Double Edge, Talawa, Maya Productions, Radio 4 and TheatreIs/GLYPT
When and where are you happiest?
Other than traveling, the first night of a play where I experience different emotions: relief at having survived the production, anxiety about it going right, nervous about the audience response and exhilaration if they like it. Then I want to party all night
What is your greatest ambition?
To create a body of work that touches people and has a lasting and enduring resonance after I am gone
What is your greatest fear?
Not being able to express myself creatively and artistically
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many sources, from something I’ve read, seen, heard, smelt, tasted and or experienced
What has been or is the biggest challenge you’ve faced, pursuing a career in the Arts?
After money, the misunderstanding from my immediate family that this was the path I had chosen because in a working class West Indian family, being an artist was not and still not largely valued/considered a ‘job’
What do you wish you’d known when you were younger, that you know now?
To not be so narrow in terms of just writing plays, but develop my visual/fine art practice an I have since realized through experience that I am an interdisciplinary practitioner and not simply a writer/playwright
What has been your proudest moment?
It was the one and only night Master Juba performed at the Hackney Empire, London. I spent my formative years and still live in Hackney and I have seen many shows at the Empire. It is the epitomey of popular music hall in its décor, the shows that come there and the audiences that come. I felt sweet that we had been able to book the Hackney Empire, which is in my ‘manor’, and that we virtually had a full house
And your most embarrassing?
Since I produced Brother to Brother as well as writing and directing it, I was responsible for fundraising. There were cash-flow problems and as a consequence the cast and crew could not be paid as and when they were due to. Informing them about the situation was not pleasant at all
Do you think British theatre is in a state of crisis?
What is British theatre? Whose British theatre? What aspect of British theatre? What kind of crisis? Is a an artistic and or funding crisis. If crisis as a result of funding, well ‘it’s the economy stupid’ and if its artistic, then its politics and the economy stupid
What do you hope for Sustained Theatre to achieve?
Sustainability for itself as an initiative, for the momentum it has generated and for the sector
For information about The Front Room project please visit www.thefrontroom.org, which opens as 'Van Huis Uit: The Living Room of Migrants in The Netherlands' (Stefanus Church, Utrecht, The Netherlands from 5 September – 30 October 2008) see www.kosmopolisutrecht.nl