My StoneCrabs Young Directors Story

I was delighted the day I got the call from StoneCrabs, inviting me to become one of a small number of participants on the Young Directors Programme (SCYD) for 2013-2014. At the point of applying, it was the only Directors Programme in the UK open to me; a free training programme for early career directors. I threw all my passion, energy and interests into my application form, and subsequently pushed myself in the interview to unpick my craft and my beliefs as a Director, even in this early stage. I hoped I had done enough and it paid off. It felt like StoneCrabs’ decision both validated and encouraged my need to embark on a directing journey.

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival - 'Thirst' by Eugene O’Neill directed by Jude Evans at The Albany

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival – ‘Thirst’ by Eugene O’Neill directed by Jude Evans at The Albany

The journey began. And with me were a team of colleagues, and ultimately great friends, who would support, encourage, challenge, inspire and influence me throughout and beyond the programme. This is one, amongst many, of its invaluable gifts. Each and every one of us had connecting interests, but also ideas, desires, approaches and styles, which marked us out from each other. It was this that contributed significantly to a rich and varied path which helped me to consolidate and develop my own identity as a Director.

StoneCrabs leading Directors Franko Figueiredo, Kwong Loke and Tanja Pagnuco were at the helm to guide us through the programme, along with invited guest practitioners. The passion, insight and expertise from these figures are a critical and irreplaceable part of SCYD. Together they provide a thorough and essential array of tools and knowledge to equip you as a director but also in the theatre world at large.

Our weekend sessions led by Franko and Kwong took us deep into the practice of a director’s preparation, craft and approach (crucial for pre-rehearsal and rehearsal room), drawing on the essential toolkit of Stanislavski and post-Stanislavski practitioners. This was combined with exercises, games and activities, which could aid, layer and expand the fine detail of actions, thoughts, beats and objectives. Both through observing and putting this into practice for ourselves, this enabled us to see this in action and to dive in and progress our own skills and intuition.

Cast of 'Thirst' by Eugene O’Neill directed by Jude Evans in rehearsal

Cast of ‘Thirst’ by Eugene O’Neill directed by Jude Evans in rehearsal

For myself, this developed my already existing understanding of a director’s toolkit, instilling me with a greater confidence for future work in and out of a rehearsal space. It also, rather significantly, encouraged me to create a dialogue between crucial, fundamental craft and other theatre approaches such as Viewpoints, Laban and Lecoq (which I would later use to my advantage). We were additionally given insight into practices as diverse as those of Augusto Boal and Tadeusz Kantor, and glimpses into movement, voice and processes of devising. Everything proved insightful.

Weekday sessions spanned many different areas, which fed into our directing, contributing to and supporting our processes. From Producing and Marketing to Casting and Writing, we gained knowledge and an understanding of roles and functions we would be likely to undertake in the early stages of our careers – everything we might need to self-produce our work for festivals and other venues. The variety of guest artists who engaged with us, who shared their experiences and who offered their advice, was remarkably helpful and inspiring. These sessions answered many questions, and opened up just as many too. I came away with one conclusion; there is no easy way through in theatre.

Jude Evans in rehearsal

Jude Evans in rehearsal

Altogether our sessions led towards our final, culminating project: a theatre festival at the Albany Theatre, presenting one work by each Director. It presented the opportunity for us to bring together all our experience, skills and knowledge gained throughout training, and to bring our other interests to the table. It allowed us to work with our own play choices, mine being Eugene O’Neill’s Thirst, in a rehearsal room with professional, paid actors. It gave us the space to collaborate and support each other’s ideas and processes, to co-produce and take ownership of a festival and to be a strong team of Creatives in an environment that can often be quite isolating. It gave us the time and space for our voices, approach and vision to emerge, and, ultimately, to be seen and discussed by audiences.

It is the combination of the Directing and Producing training strands along with the culminating festival which has acted as my own launch pad into the theatre-world. Whilst I am still in the earliest stages of my career, my confidence, skills and thinking as a director and theatre-maker has increased and is constantly growing. I am pursuing projects, which I had previously not felt able to undertake, leading workshops and working with other theatre companies. There are still questions, concerns and times of frustration, but with both StoneCrabs’ Directors and my fellow graduates around with guiding words, and the willingness to help, these are altogether more manageable and surmountable. This programme, in so many different ways, has made me believe and feel that I am a Director and have a voice, craft and art to be heard.

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Jude Evans

StoneCrabs Young Director 2013-2014


Exploring The Dream

We are thrilled to be returning to Tokyo this summer to deliver a series of workshops on Acting, the demystification of Shakespeare and the art of storytelling through Theatre.

Very often, when we think of Japanese Theatre, we either think of its traditional forms such as *Noh, *Kabuki and *Bunraku or we think of high tech, off the wall pieces as demonstrated by a recent blog by Kate Beale.

But our journey to Tokyo takes us back to the very core of what Theatre, for us at StoneCrabs, is all about: storytelling and the personal connection an actor has to make with the world of the story in a very special meeting between the objective/want of the character and their own imagination. And this is what we have been asked to bring to Tokyo, a reminder, I suppose, of the humanity of theatre where the actor, the language and the story are the main focus.

Interact2014 StoneCrabs Theatre in Tokyo

Franko, Kwong and Tereza with the actors – Interact2014 StoneCrabs Theatre in Tokyo. Photo by Alan Figueiredo-Stow

We have had many meetings where we have discussed, planned and devised games, exercises (some old, some newly conceived) towards exploring Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the selected text) with the groups, (we are working with a very young group of actors who are still learning and another group of more experienced actors, some who have worked with us in the past). Our main preoccupation is that the games and exercises we will be using will help us connect with the text in such a way to unlock our imagination and support the creative construction of a new experimental ‘Dream’. Our starting point for the work is always imagery and energy games, as we find that these allow for an interaction that will go beyond language, although language/voice/sound in itself is, for us, very important too – particularly a language that is highly poetic, sonorous and extravagant such as Shakespeare’s; we will play, deconstruct, but we will use the text with the original words.

To quote Cicely Berry “The more techno-speak takes over, the more we will disable our belief in language. Words have the power to disturb, surprise, delight and provoke, and they are happening in the moment – and between people.” – which summarises what we are trying to achieve with our work in Tokyo, to demystify Shakespeare and allow us actors, directors, theatre makers to rediscover the power of the word, and how that helps us to create and engage an audience craving for old tales.

Actors exploring the text with movement - Interact2014 Tokyo

Actors exploring the text with movement – Interact2014 Toky. Photo by Alan Figueiredo-Stow

None of us speak Japanese and the work is carried out through our wonderful translator/assistant director, Ecco-san; Ecco had spent time in London as a theatre practitioner, and this made our work very fluent as with speed, the conduct of our discussions, floor exercises and scene rehearsals were smooth and joyful. However, there might be some nuances and subtlety of language that get ‘lost in translation’, which often resulted in hilarious misconstruction.

We are ‘Exploring The Dream’ through the love relationships in the story: Theseus & Hippolyta; Hermia & Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, and Oberon and Titania, and have thrown in a bit of Puck for some fairy cheek. Our actors launched into the work with great aplomb, excited by the playful energy of the text, journeys of the characters and discovering thoughts, objectives, imagery, and the physicality of text and performance.

It is interesting to hear in Japanese Shakespeare’s text of iambic pentameter, rhyme, blank verse, intense imagery, in a language that has a very different spoken rhythm and sounds from English, let alone Shakespearean language. In the translation we are working from, much of the rhyme is lost, and certainly the iambic. What to make out of this? So, we concentrated on the ‘meaning’ of dialogue, the description of situations (as by Titania to Oberon of their quarrel), the imagery and its connection to the words spoken; we encouraged the sharing out of thoughts to the audience, and immerse ourselves into a world of magic that reflects the world of humankind. In understanding that when we ‘dream’ of things beyond the clouds, our lives take on the world of Oberon and Titania, are connected by Bottom’s ‘change’ to that world.

Interact2014 exploring a dream - miuko (helena)  and yuri (hermia)

Actresses Miuko and Yuri explore the characters Helena and Hermia. Photo by Alan Figueiredo-Stow

The time here in Tokyo makes real our ‘dream’ of taking theatre back to its storytelling roots, connecting the personal to the magical, with a little help from our Japanese friends. The weather has been kind to us too: hot sunny days with warm balmy nights, some bento to warm our stomachs and light sushi in the day to keep us going.

The process of exchanging ideas, techniques and work continues beyond our time here: as we leave Tokyo – we start reflecting on this ‘dream’ and renewing our plans to continue the work when we return in 2015.

“I have had a dream, past the wit of a man to say what dream it was” – Bottom

Franko Figueiredo, Kwong Loke & Tereza Araujo

*Noh is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 13th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. Noh Theatre

*Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers. Kabuki Theatre

*Bunraku is a form of traditional Japanese Puppet Theatre, founded in Osaka in 1684. Bunraku Theatre

Why should a young person apply to the Young Directors Training Programme?

Applying to the Young Directors Training Programme with StoneCrabs Theatre Company has completely changed my life. As an aspiring Theatre Director, I felt this opportunity was not to be missed, and exactly a year on after I applied I know I could not have been more right.

The programme itself is nurturing, welcoming and, crucially, it facilitates you to get out of it as much as you put in. I imagine every year the programme must feel completely different because the participants make the programme what it is. In my experience, I have made some friends for life and a solid network of young creatives to start my career with.

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: 'Luna Park' directed by Hattie Coupe

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: ‘Luna Park’ directed by Hattie Coupe

What can be guaranteed is that you will be working with a group of people who have been individually selected for their work ethic, enthusiasm and skills. It is up to you to find out each other’s strengths and work as a company in order to produce the Young Directors Festival, which is such an exciting feature of the training programme. You are pushed to work efficiently within a strict time and financial budget. These kinds of challenges expose our unknown strengths and weaknesses – an invaluable process in order to grow as people as well as theatre makers.

The play, which I chose to direct for the Young Directors Festival 2014 called Luna Park, was selected with one other play, The Man Who (dir. Ellie Chadwick), to be taken for further development and presented as a double bill at Canada Water Culture Space. It was an amazing experience to see how our work could transfer from one venue to another and the opportunities and limitations of the touring process.

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: 'Luna Park' directed by Hattie Coupe

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: ‘Luna Park’ directed by Hattie Coupe

A month or so after the training programme had finished; I was awarded the Young Director Award from the Equity Foundation in the form of paid employment as an Assistant Director.

I feel I have had such a successful year with StoneCrabs Theatre Company and I could not have asked for a more supportive start to my chosen career path, unfortunately a rarity for young people today. It is an infuriating position to be in; knowing you want to work as a Theatre Director but not being able to see how you can do it, never mind trying to explain your plan to your friends or family. StoneCrabs Theatre Company have given me the space to train and experiment as an artist which have in turn exposed me to opportunities that I would not have even known about if I never applied. My advice is to apply, and be persistent in chasing your aspirations, as it could be the difference between achieving them or not.

Hattie Coupe

Hattie Coupe


Hattie Coupe

StoneCrabs Young Director 2014

This years StoneCrabs Young Directors Programme is now open. Click here for more information and to apply. 

A Day in the Life of a StoneCrabs Trustee

As a StoneCrabs Trustee it is always a pleasure to be able to call in and visit the company’s office at The Albany for a catch up on the team and the projects. As I was born and brought up in South London, it’s a very special feeling for me to walk through the busy streets of Deptford, jammed packed with stalls and all the beautiful hustle and bustle that goes with market day, in such a colourful and culturally diverse community. The experience is always a powerful reminder of my London roots and my great pride in being involved as a Trustee with StoneCrabs.

The Brasiliance Team and Performers at Brasiliance Day at Deptford Lounge

The Brasiliance Team and Performers at Brasiliance Day at Deptford Lounge

On arrival at the company’s small and compact office (very eye-catching with posters and promo material everywhere), Franko (the Co- Artistic Director) appears, and is quickly out of his seat to greet me with his distinctive smile and warm embrace, before introducing me to Hattie, a Young Director who is busy on a computer working on Kitchen, the company’s new production which forms part of StoneCrabs’ Brasiliance Heritage Lottery Project. Within minutes, with a cup of tea and biscuits in hand, I’m listening to Franko giving me an update on the complex work he is undertaking on Brasiliance. I gaze thoughtfully at a huge hand-drawn flow diagram of events and activities planned for Brasiliance Weekend at Rich Mix on 5th and 6th July – comprising Brazilian Arts, Music, Theatre and a scratch performance of a new play Kitchen by Gael Le Cornec. This flow diagram beats the London Underground map hands down for interest and complexity! It is such a huge amount of work for a small-scale theatre company with limited resources, and it’s not long before I’m offering StoneCrabs some of my time to help out in any way that I can with advance preparations!

StoneCrabs Young Directors 2014 in rehearsal with Co-Artistic Directer Kwong Loke-

StoneCrabs Young Directors 2014 in rehearsal with Co-Artistic Directer Kwong Loke-

For me, these informal visits to the company base are very different but no less significant or important experiences than board meetings. I enjoy contributing to the formal business undertaken at quarterly Board meetings where, as Trustees, we make decisions on a wide range of matters including Artistic Development, Finance, Company Management and Governance. I always look forward to attending StoneCrabs’ projects and theatre productions – to be part of celebrating cultural diversity and Brazilian heritage through StoneCrabs’ exciting work whilst enjoying the role of being an Ambassador and advocate of the company and its work is simply just great.

'Asphalt Kiss' at The New Diorama 2012

‘Asphalt Kiss’ at The New Diorama 2012

I am one of five trustees who are members of StoneCrabs’ Board. We are responsible for making sure StoneCrabs is doing what it was set up to do and to lead the charity and decide how it is run. Each one of us comes from a different background and supports the Charity with our own expertise. On the Board we have an Accountant, a Lawyer, an Actor, a Fundraiser and me, a Lecturer who previously worked in the Arts as a Programmer and General Manager. We are currently seeking other Trustees with expertise in the fields of Marketing and IT, so that we can fully support StoneCrabs to continue doing the excellent work they do.

'The Burial'  by Bola Agbaje at The Albany 2013

‘The Burial’ by Bola Agbaje at The Albany 2013

Most Trustees don’t get paid for their role, we perform our duties as Volunteers, acting out of the desire to help people and make positive changes in their lives. Volunteering as a Trustee for StoneCrabs is not only rewarding and enjoyable, but also fulfilling and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoy being a StoneCrabs Trustee and would encourage anyone with an interest in the Arts to become one also.

Cara Anderson

StoneCrabs Theatre Company Trustee

Are you interested in becoming a StoneCrabs Trustee? Please click here for more details and information about applying.

Want to know more information about being a Trustee? Click here.

For more information about StoneCrabs Theatre Company, click here.

Wearing More Than One Hat

I’m not a blogger but I’ve been asked to write a blog. So here I am, doing my best at this task – yet another hat to the collection of hats I’m happy to wear for the love of theatre.

Have you ever woken up one morning, jumped out of bed, picked up your diary to discover which hat you’re meant to be wearing today? Will you be fundraising? Teaching? Directing? Producing? Temping? If you have, you’ve probably got the freelance syndrome.

It might seem a bit of a brainf*** at times but I’m actually loving it. I sometimes struggle explaining what I do to friends and family who aren’t in the field. I probably give them a sense of panic at the unclarity, (for them) of what I do, but deep down I am loving it. Why? Because it keeps me on my toes, no two days are alike, and most of all it exercises that muscle in our brain so precious to a happy life, I think.


(The StoneCrabs Team; Lorna French, Kwong Loke, myself and Franko Figueiredo at The Mac, Birmingham)

StoneCrabs Theatre Company has offered me many opportunities to challenge myself at different roles. Most interestingly is seeing how one role has led to another and yet again to another. As if, all these roles, as diverse as they can be have in some form or shape a common thread.

Let’s go back in time a bit. We’re in 2010. Recently graduated, I join the company as their new Literary Associate. There’s a buzz, an excitement from Franko and Kwong, the two Artistic Directors, towards bringing new unheard voices from Europe. After much reading and discussion, we program a 3-day event at the Soho Theatre; Off The Wall 2010 is created. The idea is simple but effective: we present three major European contemporary plays (unheard in the UK) and pair them up with three commissions of short plays by up-and-coming British playwrights; Bola Agbaje, Lorna French and Rosaline Ting.

Three years down the line, all three commissions have developed into full-blown scripts and I  find myself involved in all three: directing Rosaline Ting’s Gerbils in a Glass Cage at The Space, acting as a Dramaturge for Lorna French’s City Melodies (recently performed at the Capital Plays Festival at The Mac, Birmingham) and producing Bola Agbaje’s The Burial at The Albany.


(‘The Burial’ by Bola Agbaje at The Albany Theatre) 

From one role, three others had emerged.

This is just an example, and I’m sure all StoneCrabs’ Associates can share similar developments in their work with the company. Of course, it takes time, commitment and passion to go from one role to another, and quality work is always the main motto. But I love how StoneCrabs Theatre Company embraces its Associates as three-dimensional Creatives who, according to their passion, skills and availability at the time of the project, can pick up different hats, and immediately be respected as such.

I think versatility can save us from dead-end routines, from repeating the same successful formulas, from assuming things without knowing and can open up doors we wouldn’t have imagined existed. For a creative team, all this feels so essential.


(The cast and creatives of ‘City Melodies’ by Lorna French at The Mac, Birmingham) 

Also, if I am one mind, one body, one heart doing multiple roles won’t all these roles always be in some way related? In my case, I feel everything is always about wanting to tell really great stories and understanding therefore the nuts & bolts in making this happen. Even a temping job, which might at first seem totally unrelated, can be a wonderful treasure box full of characters and stories waiting to be explored. Theatre is all around us after all.

Thankfully there are diaries to keep track of what hat I’m wearing tomorrow, next week and beyond.  That makes me think; now that I have finished writing my first blog post ever, I’m off to the shops to buy a nice big diary for 2014. 😉

Happy new year!

Tanja Pagnuco

Associate Director/Producer

StoneCrabs Theatre Company

Fear and Magic in the rehearsal room

I’ve run rehearsals in the past for very small projects; I’ve been an Assistant Director sitting in on rehearsals and taking notes, giving feedback and providing all manner of support. But nothing is as terrifying as directing your first proper play with a group of experienced actors, in a professional setting, to be showcased as your directorial debut to your peers, colleagues, mentors, industry and the public. And that’s exactly what I felt, terrified, as I headed towards my rehearsal venue, (the fabulous Theatre Delicatessen!), for the first day of rehearsals one Monday morning.

Jude Evans in a StoneCrabs Young Directors workshop led by Kwong Loke, Joint Artistic Director, StoneCrabs Theatre Company

Jude Evans in a StoneCrabs Young Directors workshop led by Kwong Loke, Joint Artistic Director, StoneCrabs Theatre Company

The reality is quite different. Actors and Directors are both human beings, and together, through trust and support; fears and anxieties are allayed. Once in the rehearsal room, I found myself much more relaxed and all set to go; if you’ve done your research, know your text and have planned your rehearsals then the door is truly open for collaboration, teamwork and the generation of ideas. There is a common goal shared by everyone in rehearsal room: to create a piece of theatre.

As a Director, the key is to be prepared, to have faith in your ideas and trust in your approach. If you have nothing, or very little to go on, how are your actors meant to put their trust in you? If you have no idea how your day will go, what units of text to work on and what point you want to be at by the end of the day, how will you get there?

Jude Evans leading a StoneCrabs Young Directors workshop on Laban Viewpoints

Jude Evans leading a StoneCrabs Young Directors workshop on Laban Viewpoints

My own rehearsals involved a few hours preparation during the weekend before, allocating a rough amount of time to chunks of the text – it allowed us to focus on everything from language and subtext, to character development, to movement around the space. But what that planning also gave us was the freedom to break from it, to ask questions and to explore uncharted territories. With preparation comes freedom and openness.

Openness also relates to your approach in the rehearsal room throughout the whole process. It’s unlikely that any production will benefit from a solely Stanislavsky-based approach, but nor will it flourish with a wholly physical, movement-based approach. Being open to bringing a variety of techniques and exercises to the process is beneficial to all involved, and it will only help with keeping things fresh and moving the production onwards.

Jude Evans rehearsing with her actors for 'Thirst' by Eugene O'Neil

Jude Evans in rehearsal with the actors cast in ‘Thirst’ by Eugene O’Neil, which was staged at The Albany Theatre in February 2014

With a text like Thirst by Eugene O’Neill, it was absolutely necessary to have a balanced approach, very much text and movement, and I found myself discovering new ideas and techniques as I went along; including *Chekhov’s ‘Psychological Gesture’, peacocks, *Agwe (used to develop the character of the Sailor) and *Edgar Degas’s dancers (used to develop the character of the Dancer). Otherwise, we might all have drowned in weighty, dense language…

With all this coming into play, the process constantly moves forward, with discoveries and excitement pulsating through. Our final rehearsal, a day of Points of Concentration to keep things alive and fresh whilst consolidating and building on all the work we had done, was a fantastic and inspiring day as we could see all our hard work coming to fruition.

From the initial, pre-rehearsal thoughts to the final day, through trust, sharing, collaboration, preparation and openness, what once seemed terrifying becomes pure, indescribable magic.


Jude Evans

2014  StoneCrabs Young Director Graduate

Director of Thirst by Eugene O’Neil

StoneCrabs Theatre Company


*Chekov’s Psychological Gesture is a movement that expresses the psychology of the character. Chekhov defines the psychology to consist of the thoughts, feelings and will of a human being. Hence, the Psychological Gesture is a physical expression of the thoughts, feelings and desires of the character, incorporated into one movement. Chekov defines gesture as a movement that has intention.

*Agwe was a sea god in West Indian mythology.

*Edgar Degas was a 19th century French artist. He painted and sketched several dancers whilst they were preparing and/or rehearsing for a performance. For more information on Edgar Degas, please click here.

Theatre Noir premières in London -‘Hamlyn’ by Juan Mayorga at The Space

It has already been five years since I took part in the StoneCrabs Young Director’s Training Programme and since graduating in 2009, I have developed my own craft as a Director and have seen other Directors that were on my course excel in their practice and grow as artists.

The cast of 'Hamlyn' in rehearsals

The cast of ‘Hamlyn’ in rehearsals

Mayorga’s language, with its constant threatening subtext, is a real highlight” – The Stage on ‘Nocturnal’ (2009) The course had a strong impact on me, as it gave me the opportunity to develop my directing skills, be aware of the practicalities when working on a play, and most importantly, it was the push I needed to get into the Directing world. But the best part of the course has been the strong support that the Artistic Directors, Franko and Kwong, have shown me all these years. This year, I managed to get a project, that is very close to my heart, programmed at The Space: ‘Hamlyn’ by Spanish playwright, Juan Mayorga*.  And From day 1, (when I was considering venues, making the Arts Council application, figuring out Casting and developing a Marketing Strategy), to now, Stonecrabs have always been there, guiding me and providing me with inspirational support.

The cast of 'Hamlyn' in rehearsals

The cast of ‘Hamlyn’ in rehearsals

compelling creepiness…nightmarish power” – The Guardian on ‘Nocturnal’ (2009) ‘Hamlyn’ has won several awards and national prizes in Spain, including Spain’s National Theatre Award. Mayorga’s work is quite new to the UK, until today only his play ‘Nocturnal’ has seen a full production in London and this will be ‘Hamlyn’s’ UK première. Mayorga’s work has been previously described as ‘Theatre Noir’, if such thing exists, his work is most definitely compelling and exciting. ’Hamlyn’ has been on my mind for some time now, and it is thrilling to finally bring it to the British stage. I am currently starting week 2 of rehearsals with an incredible team and a strong passion to share this powerful and engrossing story with an audience. Can’t wait to see you there!

Sandra Maturana


In the meantime check out Hamlyn’s trailer: The Space currently has an EARLY BIRD ticket offer – 2 tickets for the price of 1 when you book between 22 and 26 April and quote RAT

*Juan Mayorga was born on April 6th 1965 in Madrid. He studied in Munster, Paris and Berlin gaining a Doctorate in philosophy. He taught mathematics in Madrid and now teaches Playwrighting at Madrid’s Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramatic. Founding member of the El Astillero theatrical collective. In 2007 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Teatro by the Spanish Government