After finishing university I moved home to South East London and got a place on the StoneCrabs Young Directors Program in 2011, something that I am incredibly grateful for. I then went on to successfully gain support from the John Fernald Award, which allowed me to continue my training with StoneCrabs and join multiple productions as an Assistant Director. I have since gone on to get paid employment as an Assistant Director as well as directing my own projects.
I really think that programs for directors, like StoneCrabs’, are so important for the ecology of performing arts in this country. If you look at acting for example, there are hundreds of ways for actors to train and systems in place to help actors to grow as artists. From an early age there are clubs and summer camps and youth theatres to help teach actors the skills of their craft.
But the same does not widely exist to help directors. I know of two regional theatre companies which last month advertised training positions for directors; the first had 200 applicants per place and the second had had over 160 per place. This clearly shows that there is a huge demand for director training but that there are a precious few places to support a healthy pool of emerging directing talent. Where the StoneCrabs program was key was that it combined the skills of directing with the logistics of producing; all the ingredients of being a theatre-maker.
It is now two years exactly since I completed the Young Directors Program, which for me culminated with a staged reading of Simon Stephens’ “County Music”. The program was a perfect introduction to the art of directing, but it was only an introduction. The past two years have been as valuable as the first few months for me learning about what it is to work with actors and how to tell a good story in a theatrical way.
Currently I am very interested in lots of Chinese plays and aim to direct perhaps one or two in the not too distant future. Having lived and worked in Beijing, I really want to bring out a side of China we just never see in the news.
StoneCrabs is a great company for bringing diverse and unseen work into the UK and I think there is a real appetite for international work in London.