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Amy Draper: ‘The only way to learn directing is to just do it’

Amy Draper
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Which organisations have you worked for?

I was an education associate practitioner at the Royal Shakespeare Company last season and have been director mentor on school productions of Julius Caesar and Macbeth. I ran the theatremaking courses for teenagers and acting for adults courses at Marlborough College Summer School between 2011 and 2015.

How did you start off in theatre?

I studied drama at LAMDA and Bretton Hall, but this wasn’t right for me. I left and did a Spanish degree in Leeds, where I did a lot of acting with the theatre group. When I had an idea for a devised theatre piece and no one else would direct, I decided to give it a go. I had no idea what I was doing, but loved it and never acted again. I directed four pieces in my final university year and then moved to London to try to make a career out of it.

What is the best piece of advice you have for directing students?

Theoretical learning and classroom-based directing exercises are useful, but the only way to really learn to direct a full production is to do it. Know that it’s both a creative and managerial role, and balancing the artistic with the practical/political is vital.

What would you change about director training in the UK?

As I didn’t train, all I can say is that you don’t necessarily need to train to work as a director. There are other ways of learning such as observing, reading, attending workshops and assistant directing, plus just doing.

What is the best part of your job?

I make a lot of new work and love taking an idea from the start all the way through workshops, rehearsals and into production.

And your least favourite?

Theatre moves slowly as an industry and it can take many years to make projects happen. This can be frustrating.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students be looking up to?

I admire anyone who takes risks with bold work.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?

Drive. That and patience.

Amy Draper was talking to John Byrne

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