"These experiences don't stop. You carry on doing the one-star review shows all your life. Until you go 'I've got to make my own work. Something's got to change'..."

Esther McAuley is both a phenomenal actor - currently appearing in Frankenstein at The Royal Exchange - and the driving force behind Mac's Arcadian, through which she works to make contemporary, visual theatre that thrives on risk and integrates creative access for audiences of all ages.

But a decade ago, Esther McAuley was there, in an abandoned piano showroom, behind a discount bookstore, on London's Regent Street when Theatre Deli began with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' directed by Frances 'Effie' Loy.

It was in the midst of that production that Esther and Roland found themselves in a van, heading south of the river, making polite conversation about their hopes and dreams for the future. Now, ten years later, they come together to talk about all the things that went wrong, all the things that went right and why neither of them can quite let go of that Lyn Gardner one-star review...

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Biography taken from the Macs Arcadian website



Recorded on 29 August 2017 at
Theatre Deli Broadgate
Interview by Roland Smith
Produced by Lydia Thomson
Theme music by Luke B. Ford

Esther McAuley

Esther trained at Mountview where she was awarded the John Geilgud Bursary. She has studied British Sign Language to NVQ Level 6, was a China Plate Optimist in 2016 and works regularly as an actor, theatre-maker and BSL Communication Support Worker.

Other writing/ directing credits include; The Girl Who Followed Her Dream (writer/director) supported by The Unicorn & Improbable; Jack & Jewel (writer/director) Mousetrap Theatre Projects at Soho Theatre; The Cleaner - Short Film (writer/performer) official selection London Short Film Festival.

Currently in development: Finder (writer/performer) supported by The Barbican.

Esther is currently performing in Frankenstein, Manchester Royal Exchange.

Other theatre credits include; Handbagged, English Theatre Frankfurt, The Mousetrap, West End Tour, Mousetrap Productions; I Promise You Sex and Violence, Northern Stage; Horizontal Collaboration, Traverse Theatre; Macbeth (Lady Macbeth) China Plate; Thin Ice, Edinburgh Fringe; 13, A Woman Killed With Kindness, Greenland and The Emperor Jones, National Theatre; The Lost Happy Endings, Red Earth; Matt Henson North Star, The Lyric Hammersmith; Whiter Than Snow, Graeae / Birmingham Rep; Arcadia, Habeas Corpus, Wild Honey and She Stoops to Conquer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre; Sam Wanamaker Festival, Globe Theatre; Sticky, Improbable.

Television; Smack The Pony and EastEnders

Macs Arcadian

Mac's Arcadian makes fearless, experimental and accessible performances for adults and children.​

First realised in the late 1940’s by Margaret and John McAuley, Mac’s Arcadian began life as a travelling show, delivering brave and entertaining stories through vaudeville style sketches and the universal languages of music, mime, dance, song and the spoons!

Esther McAuley re-founded the company in 2017, adopting her Grandparents' philosophy, to make contemporary, visual theatre that thrives on risk and integrates creative access for audiences of all ages, with a focus on young people.

Mac's Arcadian's first production, 'Great Odds', made for D/deaf and hearing 6-11 year olds and their families began its first stage of development at The Unicorn theatre with support from Improbable and was funded by Arts Council England. It grew through a second phase of R&D before a successful national U.K tour in 2017. Great Odds integrated BSL, puppetry, projection, live music and sound.

'McAuley’s script manages to simplify mature emotional conflicts and is intelligently written. The performance is bold and retains a wonderful sense of adventure throughout, but it is its accessibility which demands the highest praise... Mac’s Aracdian possess huge potential and their place within present-day theatre making looks very promising indeed.' - A Younger Theatre

'This light-hearted show is full of fun, frolics and laughter from the outset. It delivers a positive message and is presented very cleverly and is a great display of acting that incorporates sign language rather than it being separated from the piece, which you more often find.' - Theatre Full Stop