By DeeDee Doke
Matthew Attwood knows something about seizing opportunities. At 22, the winner of NODA East District 4S’s Best Technical Production Award 2020, has written a full-length pantomime, directed it and even had to play the lead villain when the person originally cast in the role had to drop out just weeks before showtime. Oh, and taken the show, Jack and the Beanstalk: A Very Cheesy Pantomime, to France to perform with his group, the Ellesmere Devils Pantomime Society from Suffolk.
“You can’t always rely on others to give you opportunities – you have to create them yourself,” says Matthew, who recently completed the final semester of his drama degree course at Anglia Ruskin University. “You have to seize the moment, and you have to push yourself to achieve something – even if it’s not in your comfort zone; that’s half the battle.”
With his early theatrical experiences, from age six to 18, taking place onstage, Jack and the Beanstalk was the first full-length production Matthew had written. “To actually sit down and write and make a lot of time to do that was a new process for me,” he said.
The wildly funny script emerged from Matthew’s vision to take the traditional fairy tale down a different path “and then, gradually by adding more and more characters, I had to think, right, what’s the trajectory that I want to take these characters on?”
A few months of editing and collaboration with assistant director Sue Green followed to polish the script off. Performed in January 2019, the production kept crowds laughing with too many cheese – and cheese-y -- jokes to count.
With university studies completed, Matthew aims to join with friends to develop his own theatrical company, exploring both online and live theatre. “I think writing and directing are leading me somewhere. I want to hone in on that and see what I can create.”
And does he have any advice for others in the theatrical orbit? “The best advice I can give anyone,” he said, “is just be fearless and really push yourself, step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself consistently and make your own opportunity.”