What if I took 20 questions, and gave them to directors, artists, playwrights, poets, actors, novelists, burlesque performers, short story writers, devisers, stand-up and sit-down comedians and anyone else who seemed interesting in between, and asked them to respond to as many or as few questions as they liked, as briefly or meandering as they chose about art, culture, and the creative process… wouldn’t that be an interesting series?
Or that, at least, is the thinking behind a new series of interviews I’ll be posting each week, 20 Questions. I’m delighted that director Kirstie Davis agreed to be the first subject…
Kirstie has worked at many theatres around the country including the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and Salisbury Playhouse . For six years she was the Associate Director and then Acting Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre. Plays included: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Crucible in History, Mother Courage and her Children, Fear and Misery in the Third Reich, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Daughter-in-Law and Top Girls. She has also directed Fable and Brecht’s Lehrstucke for the Nuffield Theatre and most recently she ran the Studio Theatre at Cheltenham Everyman where she directed Man to Man and led on their New Writing, Outreach and Professional Mentoring programmes. Since joining Forest Forge as Artistic Director in January 2009, Kirstie has directed Around The World In 80 Days, Ashputtel, Free Folk, For The Record, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Peeling, The World Outside, Bloom, The Phoenix and The Carpet and Midnight is a Place.
See www.forestforge.co.uk for more details
What first drew you to writing/directing/acting?
I fell in love with film from an early age and wanted to be a film director. But at university I discovered theatre and changed paths. I love working with actors and the immediacy of theatre. The rehearsal room is my favourite place.
What was your big breakthrough?
I am not sure that I have had one! In terms of being allowed to direct- I assisted Jane Howell at BADA and she was inspirational and allowed me to direct the first act of Top Girls. I now always have an assistant director if I can.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work/process?
Funding applications! I enjoy the challenge of new writing- as it is all to be discovered.
Is there a piece of art, or a book, or a play, which changed you?
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. I saw the play, then the film , then read the play…. An extraordinary haunting piece of work.
What’s more important: form or content?
Both are equal in my eyes
How do you know when a project is finished?
I don’t think a project is ever really finished- it is just going through a new transition
Do you read your reviews?
If they are good
What advice would you give a young writer/practitioner?
Have faith in your abilities and don’t let others put you off. There are many reasons to not pursue a creative career- but if you have to do it, you will.
What work of art would you most like to own?
Anything by Rodin
What’s the biggest myth about writing/the creative process?
That it is easy. That anyone can do it.
What are you working on now?
The Boy at the Edge of the Room by Richard Conlon. This is an adaptation of a Victorian novella by Lucy Clifford that is the inverse of the Pinocchio Story. A young boy called Tony wants to be a puppet and there are dramatic consequences because of that wish. It is a gothic fairytale for adults, which we think explored autism for the first time in literary form. (see below for information of the tour)
What is the piece of art/novel/collection/ you wish you’d created?
Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights
What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
To not worry so much. To enjoy the moment and not worry about the future.
What’s your greatest ambition?
To be a Theatre Director for the rest of my life
How do you tackle lack of confidence, doubt, or insecurity?
Good friends who aren’t in the theatre industry
What is the worst thing anyone said/wrote about your work?
I try not to read bad reviews
And the best thing?
If you were to create a conceit or metaphor about the creative process, what would it be?
What is your philosophy or life motto?
Just breathe in and out and move forward.
What is the single most important thing you’ve learned about the creative life?
There are sacrifices as well as gains
What is the answer to the question I should have – but didn’t – ask?
I think that covers it!
Kirstie’s latest production: THE BOY AT THE EDGE OF THE ROOM
- The Boy at the Edge of the Room
- Written By
- Directed By
- Designed By
- Composer/Music By
- Choreographed By
‘He was not like other boys….He did not see the world through the same eyes as us.” A boy called Tony struggles to fit in and find his place. He has a different way of looking at the world and longs to retreat to place where he can be ‘’nothing more than small and far off’. Those surrounding him have little patience for his dreams, with the exception of his mother who will do anything to ensure his happiness.When a mysterious ‘dealer’ offers Tony the chance to make his dream come true, his mother must face a future without him, and the audience is forced to confront an unsettling and moving ending.
The Boy At The Edge of the Room is a fairytale for adults, inspired by Lucy Clifford’s 1882 story Wooden Tony. It focuses on a character who displays many of the classic traits of those on the autistic spectrum. It is a beautiful and moving examination of difference and acceptance, brought to life through song, movement and puppetry. Recommended age 12+ Created with help and advice from the Hampshire Autistic Society.