Sara Joyce is directing two shows at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Hunch by Kate Kennedy and Tamar Broadbent’s Best Life. She tells Giverny Masso about her approach to directing and her work with the Old Vic 12 development programme…
How did Hunch come about?
Writer Kate Kennedy and I are very close friends and she had an idea for a play about why it’s so difficult to make decisions. We chatted on the phone and resolved to make a show with a superhero who can read intuitions. It’s about how we have so many different choices in life.
What’s the other show you are taking to Edinburgh?
Comedian Tamar Broadbent is doing a show called Best Life, which I developed with her. It’s all about the social media hashtag #bestlife, and asking: ‘What is a best life?’ I see people on Instagram posting pictures on a Friday night with a bottle of Prosecco and I wish for a second that I could do that, but then I stop and think there’s not a bit of me that actually wishes I could be doing that.
What else are you working on at the moment?
I’m on the Old Vic 12 [development scheme] working on a really exciting play called Our Name Is Not John by Sarah Kosar. It’s based on the statistic that there are fewer women CEOs in FTSE firms than there are men called John. I’m also trying to make a short film. I find the film industry can be more embracing of my ideas and more willing to support and help bring them to life. Theatre is in a bit of a chokehold in terms of funding at the moment, so it’s hard to develop work of scale or ambition. But I’m having a lovely time in my work, I sometimes feel as though too much focus can be put on the negatives.
How did you get into theatre?
I auditioned for a play at school and I didn’t get in, so I made it my mission to be really good. I joined a youth theatre company while at school and I loved it, which made me want to study drama. I went to Trinity College Dublin and did a drama degree. I wanted to be an actor initially and I was still acting after university when I got into Jacques Lecoq in Paris. After finishing that, I was offered two jobs within 24 hours – one was as a performer on a tour and the other was assistant director at Soho Theatre, and at the time the acting job was better paid, but for some reason I knew I wanted to do the assistant-directing.
What is your approach to directing?
I’m focused on the people. With new writing it’s about finding the balance between what the writer is trying to do and what I need to do to push them in the right direction. It’s the same with actors and creatives. I don’t think I have any particularly great talent and skill, but I’m good at noticing people’s brilliance and knowing how to help people push to the extremes of being the best they can be.
Training: Drama degree at Trinity College Dublin (2007-11); Ecole Jacques Lecoq (2011-12)
First professional role: Assistant director, Soho Theatre (2013)
Agent: The Agency
Hunch runs at the Assembly Roxy downstairs until August 27