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.
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.
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.
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.
StoneCrabs Young Director 2013-2014