As a young director working in London, it’s easy to feel insignificant and overwhelmed by the incredible amount of creative work going on around you… the big city can be intimidating, but working in (arguably) the theatre capital of the world is also a fantastic source of inspiration. As a young director with some experience of producing and directing shows in more rural areas of the UK, I find it very valuable to be undertaking a training programme in the very different setting of the metropolis.
Competition is, of course, more intense. There are lots of other people out there trying to “make it” as theatre practitioners. It is, however, exciting to be a part of a wider community of artists, and the more projects you undertake the bigger the network you build. Having worked as an assistant director on some great projects in London fringe theatre, one thing I would always recommend is to get involved in as many projects as you can afford to as an assistant when starting out – it may not be a paid position or perhaps not even a production of a play you really want to work on, but the experience and the contacts will always be worth your while. Working with experienced directors who can advise you, and meeting actors who you work well with and might want to cast in a project of your own later on, is all so valuable to the process of building a career in theatre.
Finding rehearsal space and a venue for your show can also be tricky in such a competitive environment. There is obviously much more choice in London than in smaller cities and towns, though, so as long as you’re prepared to do a lot of research, make numerous phone calls and generally get the word out there about your project, you can find some exciting venues to work with and great deals on rehearsal space.
One of my roles on the production side of things for the StoneCrabs Young Directors’ Festival has been to find space for our rehearsals. After making lots of enquiries and telling people all about the StoneCrabs Young Directors’ programme, we have been offered some fantastic support by Theatre Delicatessen. Finding an appropriate space in which we can get creative is obviously a key part of any theatre production, so we’re very excited to have the support of Theatre Deli with free space!
It is amazing what help can be found for projects with a positive and creative objective such as the Young Directors programme, and it reminds us to consider when thinking about future projects: what is it about our piece that is important? How is it of benefit to those involved or those that come and see it? Why should businesses, theatres, other creatives and so on get involved with my idea? These are all questions that we should continue to ask ourselves as we go on to create more work: creative projects always need to engage with communities in order to survive and be valid. No one will come and see a show that doesn’t connect with them in some way!
Last week the young directors all had a one-to-one session with Franko Figueiredo, joint Artistic Director of StoneCrabs, to discuss our ideas for our individual pieces in more depth. This was incredibly useful, as it allowed us to ask questions and also – importantly – to be questioned ourselves by somebody with knowledge and experience in the field. In explaining our vision we were helped to think in detail about what we want to say with our plays, how we will approach the rehearsal process and how we are going to convey these narratives to the audience.
We are all very excited about starting practical work on our plays and will be doing some skills-sharing in the new year: running workshops for each other and passing on the different experience and knowledge that we have as individuals to benefit the group. Being part of the StoneCrabs Young Directors team gives us all a great support network and reminds us that the heart of theatre is a shared creative process: working with other artists is where we gain inspiration and how we bring our ideas to life.
Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks under a Creative Commons Licence.