“Nothing’s too big,” says managing director of 1956 theatre company, Lee Lomas, when I meet with him and the artistic director, Amy Jane Ollies. I have had the pleasure of seeing several of their productions over the last eight months and have always had something positive to say about them. Such positivity is much deserved for ticking off the golden three – good acting, good directing and good writing – but, most of all, they deserve praise because they are one of the most tenacious and ambitious companies of the Northern theatre scene.

On the dawn of the company’s second birthday, I met with the founders to get a bit more personal and find out the secret behind their success. After seeing so many of their productions, there is a peculiar but comforting familiarity as we sit together for the first time. I tell them of a time I saw one of their cast members waiting to catch a show at the Kings Arms. I enthusiastically waved to her expecting it to be returned, only to then remember the cast have never met me, and I have never met them – I have only come to know the characters they were playing. Moving swiftly on from my embarrassment, I congratulate the company for their increasingly bold decisions and ask what fuels that fire.

“Individually, career-wise, the sky is the limit and we joined that up when we got the company together. Anything we want to do creatively, rather than saying, ‘No, that’s too big’, we try to figure out a way we can do it.”

The company is clearly very driven and not easily swayed when it comes to a challenge – “The more cons there are, the more we want to do a piece” – and they admirable stick to their guns despite the risks.

“We’re quite impulsive. We don’t spend days and days thinking on what we’re going to do next, but if we get an idea and it feels right we will do it. I think we don’t see anything as too big, because we are very ambitious.”

Lomas tells me, “We’ve always been passionate about creating professional theatre, so there’s no point in playing it safe. We want to produce stuff that’s challenging enough for The Lowry or The Royal Exchange.”

1956’s credits include successful stage adaptations of films and novels (Great Expectations), stories from established playwrights and their own original writings. What should we expect next from them? Lomas tells me their next production will be an original piece he is writing, and performance dates are already confirmed.

“It is called Pudding Black, and the story is an old school murder mystery. There’s a death right at the start and the story goes back and forth. It’s a classic whodunit, but with modern-day language. It’s a black comedy, very gritty and offbeat.”

And there’s no stopping there. “We’ve got a lot of ideas and Lee has some ideas for short films. A lot of the scripts we write would lend themselves well for film. It would be nice to have another medium to get ourselves out there.”

The two have been in talks about performing a show in London and have been applying for funding, as well as continuing their mantra of “going on making decisions based on how we’re feeling”. Judging from their track record, I have no doubt that they will carry on succeeding.

Pudding Black will be performed at the Salford Arts Centre from 30 July to 1 August.

You can read Kate’s reviews of 1956 productions on our blog – Wolf, Jukebox Baby and Sexual Perversity in Chicago

Kate Morris