Interview – Heather Reynolds, Artistic Director of Kindred Spirits Theatre Company

We recently discovered our former theatre reviewer Heather Reynolds has set up her own youth theatre company Kindred Spirits and were delighted to interview her to find out more.

Q. We first came across you as the narrator in a production of Joseph & His Technicolour Dreamcoat and have since known you as a reviewer but what else do we need to know about you?

A. Thank you. I’ve been really grateful for my connections to Last Night I Dreamt Of. Whilst I haven’t tread the boards myself since Joseph, I’ve been keeping myself busy with teaching, directing and writing. My day job is teaching English and Drama at KS3 and GCSE level, and I also work front of house in a theatre, but making theatre is still a really important part of my life and something that I hope to keep pursuing. 

Q. Tell us more about Kindred Spirits Theatre Company and how it came about?

A. Kindred Spirits started last September after years of talking about starting something, but always having an excuse to not take the step. I had always wanted to do it, but didn’t feel brave enough to take the step – it was always a “I will soon” kind of dream. I know that the lockdowns, like it had done for a lot of people, prompted a lot of reflection and re-evaluation, and last year I reached my limit and couldn’t put it off any longer. I was very nervous about it, but with encouragement from some trusted friends and family members, I took the leap and now am finding myself in our third term, working towards our third show. I couldn’t have done it without the support system that I have around me.

Q. Where did the name Kindred Spirits come from?

Finding the name was actually the piece of the puzzle that set the plans in motion last summer. I’ve always found naming things really difficult – whether that be the title of a play I’m working on, or the name of a character – I’m terrible at coming up with good names. And that was actually one of the excuses that I had for not starting anything up in the past – I couldn’t think of the right name. To cut a very long story short, the name was decided when I was out to lunch with a really dear friend and mentor of mine called Caroline. We had met through work a few years ago, and bonded over our love of Anne of Green Gables. This led us to discover more similarities that we have, and we often talked about the dream of opening a theatre. Out of the blue at this lunch, my friend said “You could call it Kindred Spirits”, calling back to our shared love of the Anne stories (particularly the 1985 film haha) and the references to the idea of a kindred spirits in those. I couldn’t get rid of the thought afterwards as it just stuck, and I messaged her a few days later to see if she would mind if I used the name that she had come up with. So all credit goes to Caroline for that one. If the name had been down to me, I’d probably still be deciding it.

Q. How can people get involved with Kindred Spirits? 

A. Kindred Spirits, at the moment, is geared towards young people aged 11-18, and we love to welcome new members. The sessions take place every Friday evening from 7pm to 9pm. We want to nurture whatever interest it is that the young people who come to us have. We would love to see Kindred Spirits grow to be able to accommodate other ages too, so if someone had a child that loves drama but isn’t within the 11-18 age bracket, we would still love to hear from them. We were also really lucky to have a great team of young people working backstage on our last production, and this is an opportunity we would love to continue.

Q. Tell us more about the company’s forthcoming show Anne of Green Gables?

A. When we were thinking about what to perform for our summer show, it felt like a no-brainer to return to Anne of Green Gables, the inspiration for our name, to close out our first year running. I read a few adaptations before deciding which one we would use, and Justin Arnold’s brought the characters to life in a way that reminded me of the much-loved 1985 adaptation. We’re really grateful to Heuer Publishing for allowing us to perform it, and are really excited to be the first group outside of the United States to perform this adaptation. 

Q. It already looks like the company is gained a reputation for bringing classic children’s literature to the stage but if you could bring any book to the stage what would you choose and why?

A. Thank you! It’s been a happy coincidence that all our shows so far have been classic novels. Little Women is a play that I would love to do at some point in my career – I think the musical version of that is beautiful. I would love to see The Princess Diaries brought to the stage, purely for the nostalgia. I also think Nanny McPhee needs to be a stage show. I think there can never be enough good, wholesome family theatre. I did hear that Finding Neverland is due to make a return to the West End, and I’m really excited about the prospect of that. 

Q. After Anne of Green Gables, what is up next for you and Kindred Spirits?

A. A well-earned summer break. Our children have worked so hard this year and have been a delight to see every week, and they definitely deserve a good rest after all their wonderful performances. Beyond that, we’ll be back in September for the start of our second year and, all being well, will be working towards a Christmas show. We haven’t announced yet what this will be, but we’re really excited to see what our second year has in store for us.

Q. You have had many theatre related roles from box office to performer, reviewer to now artistic director but what other theatre dreams would you like to achieve?

I actually hadn’t realised that until now, and I genuinely do feel very blessed to have been able to experience the different parts of theatre that I have. I’m really grateful to have had such varied opportunities, and looking back I can see how they fit together and have each prepared me for what turned out to be the next stage of the journey. Working with Cameron Mackintosh was my dream when I was five years old, and that dream is still there haha! But yes, there are definitely things that I would like to achieve in the future – I would love to see Kindred Spirits grow and to continue nurturing the children that we have there and providing the best opportunities that we can for them. I would love to expand beyond our Seniors group and look at ways that Kindred Spirits can support others and develop new pieces of theatre. It would be really great to develop some new writing and play a part in bringing the kind of family entertainment I mentioned earlier to our stages. As scary as it sounds, and as nervous as I would be about it, I’d love to perform again. Honestly though, I would just be happy to still be working in the creative industry in the future and using my skills and the things I’ve learned to boost others, and would consider myself to be very blessed if I’m still doing that in 20 years. 

For more information about Kindred Spirits Theatre Company visit Kindred Spirits Theatre Company Sheffield.

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