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

https://judeevansblog.squarespace.com

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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. 

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

Director

In the meantime check out Hamlyn’s trailer: http://www.hamlyn.org.uk/videos.html 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

Young Directors take on Canada Water Culture Space

After last week’s mind blowing Young Directors Festival ‘Play.ground’, two plays were selected to be developed further and taken to CWCS (Canada Water Culture Space) in a couple of weeks as a double bill entitled ‘Play.ground 2’!

After all the excitement, we took some time to have a chat with the two young directors  selected, Hattie Coupe and Eleanor Chadwick, to see how they were feeling about this exciting transfer!

Stephanie: So how are you two feeling about your show going to CWCS?

Hattie: Excited, nervous and very, very grateful. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to give this beautiful short play a bigger audience and stage space to really let it breathe and come alive.

Eleanor: I am really excited about taking ‘The Man Who’ to CWCS. It is a fantastic chance to develop the piece further with a new space ( a larger venue) and audience in mind. It’ll be interesting to find something new in the piece in such a short space of time – a challenge which myself and the cast are looking forward to embracing.

'Luna Park' directed by Hattie Coupe at The Albany

‘Luna Park’ directed by Hattie Coupe at The Albany

Stephanie:  What was going though your mind when the plays that you directed were on stage last week at The Albany?

Hattie: My head was roaring with adrenaline throughout the whole show – and for about 12 hours afterwards! I felt proud of my actors who have taken direction so well and worked so hard with me to put this show together in just 5 days of rehearsal time. It was amazing to have a generous crowd come down to Deptford to support the Young Directors, so I was also very conscious of the audience and their response to my play. Being only 22 years old and having my “debut” put on stage, I felt very exposed and nervous at the time; the support and love for this play has since given me a sense of validity and confidence in my directing ambition, which is invaluable at such an early stage in my career.”

Eleanor: I was hooked by what the actors were doing and the spectator responses. Productions always take on new levels when they are put in front of an audience for the first time, and it was fascinating for me to watch our storytelling unfold and see what worked well, what was gained and what was lost. There were more laughs and audible reactions (even gasps and sighs of sympathy) than I wasn’t expecting, which was great! I hope that in the larger venue we can still create this feeling of intimate engagement with the characters.

Stephanie: Are there any aspects of the show you would like to change and/or develop for CWCS?

'The Man Who' directed by Eleanor Chadwick at The Albany

‘The Man Who’ directed by Eleanor Chadwick at The Albany

Eleanor: We will be welcoming a couple of new cast members for the transfer which will undoubtedly bring different nuances to the performance and the characters. I am excited to explore the piece with them and see what new facets arise. I am also keen to
experiment further with technical aspects such as lighting, as we will be given more freedom and a longer technical rehearsal than for the initial Scratch performance, which is a great opportunity. I would like to keep pushing the physical and stylistic elements of the piece, continuing to mature the characters in this way and seeing how we can translate and develop the physical elements for a different, larger space.

Hattie: I am keen to explore the social, political and economic framing of the play as I feel the Great Depression has many echoes within today’s society and families recovering after a devastating recession. I am going to be brave and use this valuable time to push the performance to its next level – you will have to come and see the show to see what that is! Overall, I aim to use the next  5 days of rehearsal time to give the play even more depth, fluidity and confidence as a performance.

Stephanie: Sounds like there will be some exciting changes to both of your pieces now that you have a much bigger space and more time for rehearsals. I can’t wait to see it!

For more information and/or to book tickets for ‘Play.ground 2’ at Canada Water Culture Space on the 20th and 21st March, click here

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