5 Questions with Dominic PowellShare with friends
Composer and theatre creative Dominic Powell has always had a passion for stage stories, but an openness to the new ways that stage stories are being expressed today which he sees as a "new era for the arts." He is an intensely devoted fan of the stories and characters of the Marvel Universe, and recommends creatives make room for comfort and inspiration from areas outside of theatre. Dominic wrote the music and lyrics for the musical CASES which was recently released as a studio album, and is the director of our new concert premiering this Friday, The Road to Prominence, which celebrates more than a century of incredible music from Black musical theatre creatives.
Why did you decide to work in theatre?
From a very young age, the ephemerality and exhilaration of live performance totally captivated me. Being able to tell stories, build sometimes naturalistic other times abstract worlds and witness an audience reaction in real time - it gives me such a buzz! Musicals particularly excite me as the story is told not only through drama, but music and song. I love people, I love stories, I love experiencing art in a live context, and so working in theatre became a very easy decision to make when considering what I want to do with my life.
What’s something that you've learned along the way that you use often?
Know your worth, but be nice and kind to everyone. The industry is incredibly small in terms of networking, degrees of separation and you never ever know when you may need support from someone you've met, talked to, interacted with or worked with in the past. First impressions are important. Final greetings are fundamental. Remember names, fulfil promises and do a favour. Or a few.
Growing up in a low socio-economic background with a loving family has definitely given me a grit, determination and passion that underpins everything I do.
What experiences have shaped who you are and how you work?
Growing up in a low socio-economic background with a loving family has definitely given me a grit, determination and passion that underpins everything I do. I suppose also receiving good solid academic education has influenced my approach to creativity and also having often experienced being the only Black male, or person, in the room has taught me a lot with regardings to expressing my identity in work and ensuring it remains truthful and authentic.
What advice do you have for people wanting to engage with the arts during this difficult time?
The possibilities are limitless, honestly. Maybe not in traditional formats or ways in which we have comfortably fostered creativity, but there are new mediums, software, technologies, venues and opportunities springing up everywhere. We are honestly in a very new era for the arts. I would also advise not to focus too heavily on the arts as it goes through this transition. Though there may be a somewhat lack of it, art has survived millenia, wars and the darkest of human experiences.
Remaining in touch with the world, family, loved ones, friends, news, politics, developing hobbies and anything outside of the arts only helps to heal the soul and make us more interesting and informed individuals upon our return to the arts. When you've had some time away, then jump back in, stream away, download away to your hearts content. Your experience and engagement of the arts will then be just that little bit more sweeter.
We see a plethora of African American stories in musical theatre, however it will be truly exciting to see Black British stories be awarded more of a platform.
What kind of theatre would you love to see more of?
At this point in lockdown, any kind of theatre would be great! I'm quite open minded in my theatregoing choices, but any story that is told well, in a way I've never seen before with a committed and unified cast, creative and production team... I'm there. It'd be remiss of me not to highlight the need for more Black British stories, it's always wonderful to dig into stories across the black diaspora and in particular we see a plethora of African American stories in musical theatre, however it will be truly exciting to see Black British stories be awarded more of a platform.