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Artistic director of Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme, Sue Emmas: ‘Be kind’

Sue Emmas, RTYDS artistic director. Photo: Jonathan Keenan Sue Emmas, RTYDS artistic director. Photo: Jonathan Keenan
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How did you start in theatre?
No one in my family had an interest in theatre so it’s hard to know where it came from. I didn’t see a professional show until I was 18 and decided to study theatre at university. When I left I wanted to be a director but realised there were others better than me. I did casting, programming and work with young people and the community. I then realised I could channel my skills into artist development.

What is the best piece of advice you have for emerging directors?
Make the work you want to make – your work defines you. Don’t compare your career progression with others – that way lies pain. And be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break.

What would you change about UK training?
It should think about what the industry needs. Drama schools need to take note of the brilliant work the Diversity School Initiative is doing and put into practice the manifestos it has created.

What is the best part of your job?
I am lucky to meet a lot of theatremakers and directors across the UK, finding out about their work. RTYDS can’t claim anyone’s success, but knowing we have provided an opportunity to allow someone’s talent to be realised is great.

And your least favourite?
I spend a lot of time on trains visiting places across the country – which wouldn’t be an issue except they are invariably late, expensive and full of people treating transport like a pub.

Who are the practitioners you admire/who should potential directors look up to?
There are too many to mention but from an RTYDS perspective: Daniel Bailey, Rebecca Frecknall, Jesse Jones and Jo Newman have achieved so much since they did an 18-month residency with the scheme only three years ago.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have?
It’s not a “skill”, but I would say kindness. It’s underrated and sometimes seems in short supply.

Nottingham Playhouse and Stephen Joseph Theatre among venues offering placements for young directors

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