How We Met: Dafydd Rogers & David Pugh
'We say that the ampersand is the only thing that comes between us'
Sunday 29 August 2010
Dafydd Rogers, 41, is an award-winning theatre producer. His joint productions with David Pugh include Yasmina Reza's 'Art', which ran for eight years in the West End, and 'Equus' with 'Harry Potter' star Daniel Radcliffe. He lives in south-east London with his wife and two children
I'd just quit as a theatre manager when I met David. It was the first job I'd ever left without something else to go to. I went to a job centre and they put in my qualifications, and the only thing that came out of the computer was that I could be a lollipop man. So that's the position in which I found myself in 1996 when a producer friend, Andrew Welch, called and said, "There's this guy I think you should meet." I told him I didn't want anything more to do with the theatre, but he convinced me to at least come and have lunch.
The three of us met at this Lebanese place on Shaftesbury Avenue. It was a bit like a blind date – Andrew stayed for a bit, then left us to it. We talked, drank a lot and got on. I was ranting about all the reasons why I didn't like theatre any more, then we talked about what it should be over a few more bottles. We were staggering out and David said, "Why don't you come and work for me?" and I said – I'll always remember this, as it was so awful and cocky – "I'm not working for you, I'm never working for anyone ever again – I'll come and work with you."
David is much more flamboyant than me, a showman from birth. I never really thought about theatre – I did a degree in theology. He's from Stoke, I'm from London. I went to public school, he didn't. David likes Morse and Midsomer Murders, I like CSI.
He's a theatre animal. He loves it all – the gossip, who's doing what. I just love what we are doing and don't care what anyone else is up to unless it's something I want to be a part of. But we aspire to the same things and we like each other.
We do fight about business. We'll have fierce shouting matches. We once had an intern who overheard one of these exchanges, and after David had gone home he came in and said, "Will my job be OK tomorrow?" I didn't know what he was talking about. It's a really important part of our relationship, a sort of distillation process when we are making decisions, and when it's over, it's over.
The biggest laughs we have are on a Monday morning, sitting in our office. We are like a Morecambe and Wise couple. We sit on the sofa in our office and snooze together reading OK! and Hello! or watching Loose Women and pretending we are casting for Calendar Girls. It's the quiet moments when you go "Phew, still here."
David Pugh, 51, is an award-winning theatre producer. His recent successes with Rogers include 'God of Carnage', 'The Play What I Wrote', 'Calendar Girls' and 'Brief Encounter'. He lives in Soho.
I'd just had my first big West End success with Art and I had only me and a secretary. I told this lovely guy Andrew Welch that I needed some help and he said he knew a lad. We went for lunch, drank a lot, started laughing and haven't stopped since – though maybe it's ground to a halt a couple of times when speaking to American agents.
Years later we met the astrologer Shelley von Strunckel, and she told us we'd been destined to meet, which we were happy about. We're both Taureans so we always used to read our horoscope and it was a running gag: "Shall we open this show? – What does Shelley say?" Now we really do ring up Shelley for a consult.
We have tough arguments, but never about us. I suspect that's more to do with him, though: his patience is incredible. Fourteen years we've worked together and he's never once criticised me, although a while back our friend the actor Jack Ryder challenged me to give up drinking for a bet. I turned to Dafydd and he said, "Well, you have been pissed for two years." It was that look he gave me, it was the first time he'd ever given it to me, though perhaps he had and I hadn't noticed because I was drunk. So I got blind drunk for four days and haven't drunk since.
We say the ampersand is the only thing between the two of us. It was my company, now it's our company and one day it will be his company. We're together 10 hours a day, always on the phone to each other at the weekend. I can text now, too, which drives him mad. We do everything together apart from award ceremonies, because we loathe them, so we toss for them and I cheat.
There are massive egos in what we do – that name up there on the sign is so important – so it's rare for producers to work as a duo. What I like is that it's very rare that we're both down on the same day. Our job is to make theatre happen and in the West End, 90 per cent of people are telling you why you can't or shouldn't do something, so it's easier to knock those walls down when there are two of you.
Family has been a whole new thing for him. It balances him. He has changed a lot since I met him – he was a terrible flirt. Dreadful! But he's a one-woman man now, God knows how. And a fantastic father.
Dafydd is my best friend. He's a sad fucker and I look after him. No, that's not true, it's the other way around. I'd be lost without him.
Pugh and Roger's latest production, 'Deathtrap', by Ira Levin, starring Simon Russell Beale and Claire Skinner, opens at the Noël Coward Theatre, London WC2, on 7 September (deathtraptheplay.com)
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