Blog - RTYDS / Three months on…

Our latest blog post comes from Sui Anukka. Sui took part in the Slate and Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme’s week-long ‘Introduction to Directing’ course back in July. Here’s what she has to say, three months on…

“Before I say anymore, I have a confession to make. When I applied for the Slate ‘Introduction to Directing’ course, I did not think there was a hope in hell of me getting on the course. I assumed it was for young directors. I am not a young director. I am not a young anything. I applied on a whim. At the time I had been fantasising about going on holiday: something I really could not afford to do, and the idea of a week away (albeit in Sheffield) with travel and accommodation thrown in sounded like just the ticket. However, on a more serious note, for quite some time, I had been yearning to experiment with adapting my writing for live performance. The last time I had directed anything was at university – well over two decades ago, and I was curious to see what experience, if any, I still carried with me: turns out, quite a lot.

It was like returning to a country I had lived and loved in but had been exiled from for years. Everything was simultaneously familiar and surprising. There was one crucial difference - I was with a group of BAME participants being taught by BAME practitioners. On my university Drama course, I was the only South Asian in my year - and one of only three POC (people of colour) students. In three years of my degree, I did not come across a single member of staff who was black. At the time, and for some years after, I did not understand the impact that this would have on me as an artist (and a person). So, this week spent in Sheffield, courtesy of Eclipse Theatre and RTYDS on the Slate programme was a revelation.

The workshop was facilitated by Cheryl Martin and administered by Bobby Tiwana who did a brilliant job of making us all feel welcome, as did the rest of the Eclipse team. Each day we were treated to a workshop with this line up of wonderful practitioners:  Dawn Walton (Artistic Director, Eclipse Theatre), Matthew Xia (Associate Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre), Stacy Makishi (Performance Artist), Ryan Harston (Artistic Director, URBAN Conceptz Theatre). We were given an insight into their different working methods and processes. At the end of the week, we got put what we’d learnt into practice with some hands-on experience directing the very generous and very patient actors: Everal Walsh and Madeline Shann.

 I cannot really put into words what an empowering experience this course has been for me. I made peace with my younger self who struggled to find my voice/place at university. I felt affirmed about the various creative paths life has taken me on. I also learnt to new skills and made some wonderful friends and contacts. I returned home inspired, and feeling so much more confident in my creative practice.

Since being on the course, I have said yes to every request to read my work that has come my way and as a result I have performed at a Pride Fringe Event which took place in Waterstones (Deansgate, Manchester); at Home (arts venue), and at the opening ceremony for the Manchester’s Black History month. In terms of taking my work to new audiences, this has been a huge step forward for me.

Also, a group of us who were on the course have kept in touch – keeping alive conversations we had during the workshop about ideas and issues we’d like to explore. We have met up since with a view to collaborating on a piece. It is early days yet, and we are still trying to formulate our ideas but I strongly believe it is the beginning of a very exciting production.

Thank you Slate, Eclipse and RTYDS! I am so glad I applied.” 

Sui Anukka

Blog - RTYDS / Three months on…