A route into directing

Stage

Have you ever considered becoming a director? How exactly would you go about it? Having just graduated last year OxStu spoke to Sian Davila, a Somerville alumna, who is currently on the StoneCrabs Young Directors programme.

Since 2006 the course has been run by StoneCrabs Theatre’s Artistic Directors – Franko Figueiredo-Stow and Kwong Loke. in partnership with The Albany Theatre and it aims to nurture directing and theatrical talent in people of all backgrounds. Attempts to break into the theatre industry can often come up against a financial barrier so the programme is completely free and means that these talented individuals are not forced down a different career path. Indeed the course does sound like a fantastic entry-level opportunity; according to their website 90% of their previous participants have gone on to secure employment with UK theatres and 5% have set up their own theatre companies.

For Sian the course has been an excellent way to try out a range of different theatre-related professions. She has been meeting up with her fellow young directors twice a week since October for training sessions at the Albany and at Regent’s University London. “Each week an industry professional comes in who specialises in a certain field in theatre. We have worked with casting directors, choreographers, directors and designers.” She tells us. “One of the many brilliant sessions was working with Greg Eldridge, a director at the Royal Opera House.”

Marketing and fundraising are key parts of their training too. The young directors have been learning about producing events and advertising them to others. They have clearly been successful in this respect as the group have reached their fundraising goal on IdeasTap’s Accelerator, a fundraising website for creative careers.

The play Sian is directing will be part of a festival held at the Albany where each of the 12 programme participants will show case the skills they have gained during this course. On directing her own show Sian is understandably excited if nervous as her play, Collected Stories by Donald Margulies, will be the last to run at the festival. Oxford has a very active drama scene so I was surprised to hear that this is her first time directing a play. “I had seen so much theatre in Oxford and in London that I started to feel like I’d love to try it out myself.”
She is former-audience member with a critical eye. Having studied English at Somerville, Sian says that her degree has helped her to really engage with texts and the characters. After years of studying literature she feels she has gained a greater “insight into tone and character development.”

The StoneCrabs Young Directors programme sounds like an excellent way to develop ideas and talent: “there is a nurturing sense in the course. They want you to experiment with everything you want to achieve and encourage you in your development, not only as a director, but as an individual.”

The Gobstoppers StoneCrabs Young Directors festival runs from the 18th – 21st February at the Albany in London, Deptford. Produced by twelve new directors, it promises to be an eclectic 4-night festival – a delicious blend of one-act offerings. 12 plays from the classic to the surreal, exploring the different possibilities of life.

IMAGE/Artur Assis