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Members Profile, Mike Paton

Members Profile, Mike Paton

I joined Leitheatre way back in 1985 in “As You Like It” in which I had one line. I had a little experience of acting whilst at Edinburgh University, and I remember being so impressed with the quality and commitment of everyone involved in that production. I was lucky enough to get cast in “Ritual for Dolls” in the following year’s SCDA One Act Festival, and by then I was hooked! I then had a part in the Fringe Show that year (Johnnie Jouk the Jibbet). Early on in that production run, I was so nervous that much time was spent in the toilet in St Serf’s each night prior to my first entrance on stage. Things did improve however!

Since then, I have had the delight and privilege of being involved with many superb productions, the vast majority of which I have so much enjoyed. If I were to choose, then a few spring to mind.

“Equus” in 1987 was an amazing experience, (not least my getting away with playing a 17 year old two weeks short of my 34th birthday), with the honour of acting opposite the excellent John McColl, a wonderful gentleman who taught me so much.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” in 2001 was also one of my favourites, a play with such an important message. “Takin’ over the Asylum” in 2014 was a hoot from start to finish. The one act play “A Wake for Donald” in 2017 was also so memorable. Derek Blackwood’s set was so evocative, and adorned the stage of Pitlochry Festival Theatre in the SCDA One Act Scottish Final. I also have been lucky enough to be Ebenezer Scrooge, The Tin Man (Oz), Winnie-the-Pooh, John Proctor and, most recently, Norman Thayer.

Many of you will be familiar with the actor Mark Bonnar. Mark was a former colleague of mine at Edinburgh Council Planning Department, and Duncan Robertson and I suggested that he might find treading the boards rewarding. He joined Leitheatre in the early nineties, and his first role was the rear end of a pantomime cow (I was the front end). He subsequently performed in “Death of a Salesman” and “Blithe Spirit”, went off to drama college, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My first real foray into directing was “Conduct Unbecoming” in 1994, followed by “Witness for the Prosecution” in 1998, “Loot” in 2000 and several more, most recently “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. I really enjoy directing, and whilst a director always wants the best, it’s important to remember that in am dram, people are there because they want to be there.

There are several more reasons why I love being involved in Leitheatre. Firstly, there is the acting experience of becoming, albeit temporarily, someone else - getting under another human being’s skin and trying to understand what makes them tick. 

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, is the process of creation - the collaboration of directors, actors, set designers and dressers, costumiers, lighting and sound experts, to produce an end product that is always greater than the sum of its parts. I also think it’s important to get involved in as many ways as possible - there are so many things that are required, “behind the scenes” as it were, to keep Leitheatre ticking over.

Finally, there are all the wonderful friends that I have made over the years! Let’s hope that these strange times will soon come to an end, and we can get back to doing what we do best. Can’t wait.