10 years ago, if someone had told me I would become a theatre maker and I would be sitting at one of Britain's best-loved and most distinctive theatres as an early career director, I would have laughed and ignored it as a joke. Back then, I was living in a country in the Middle East, working as a journalist and translator and I was contemplating on doing a PhD in Politics. The only show I had seen was an adaptation of The Bourgeois Gentleman by the French playwright Moliere. I saw that only because my friend was holding one of the major roles as a performer. Nevertheless, I loved art and I used to do sketching and oil painting in my spare time.
Now, 10 years later, I spend most of my time studying or writing for theatre and seeing shows. Journalism and politics now belong to my past life. Although they inform me in whatever I create.
Last year, I obtained my MA in Creative Writing and I wrote and performed my first solo show a few weeks ago which received positive feedback. In the last couple of years, I attended many training courses including the stage direction course at HOME which made me think about pursuing directing seriously. I applied for Observers Mondays at Royal Exchange to sit in rehearsal room and learn from one of the best directors in the UK and I was lucky enough to be accepted.
It was a bit nerve-racking first time I entered the space but it soon turned to a positive feeling when I met with the director and the rest of the team. I felt welcomed.
I expected to see them get on with rehearsals but instead everyone sat and I was given a desk in a strategic place at the top of the room. ‘Oh this is what they trying to do.’ I reckoned. ‘They are going to read the text and discuss it.’
I could see how Sarah got the actors to explore the emotions in characters and helped them expose the layers of the text and the playwright’s choices and intentions.
I realised that there is more to a play than the mere text and the meaning tends to hide somewhere underneath the words. A good play is a textured play. Something that can’t be decoded very easily.
The process took 8 hours, yet it didn’t seem to be exhausting or boring. The actors remained engaged all the time and this was down to the brilliant approach by the director to keep it playful and give a break when it needed.
At the end of the day my brain was full of ideas and new learnings but a bit tired as English is not my first language and part of my brain was interpreting all the time. I learned new vocabulary though which was well worth it.
Death of a Salesman runs 11 October - 17 November 2018, Theatre