Samantha Jones | Trainee Director at The Other Room
Images: Tess Seymour Photography
Going into the Young Artist’s Festival 2018 as the recently recruited Trainee Director was hugely daunting; Dan, Bizzy & George fully threw me into the deep end whilst standing at the pool side ready with some arm bands and a glass of squash for moral support.
And I couldn’t be more grateful. Walking into the bar a bag full of fear on Monday morning, and hitting the buzz of energy that only comes from a room full of passion, enthusiasm & nerves, I knew I was in the right place.
Meeting and workshopping with Adele Thomas on the Monday was a true highlight. She gave the best advice for not only direction but for life: when asked a question, think before you answer. Seems easy right? Not for me, and I think not for a lot of people, especially creatives. When asked a question in an audition, an interview, a conversation, I am determined to answer as fast as possible, conditioned to do so by my education system and my own self-doubt. Adele smoothly and caringly advised us – think before you answer. Take a moment, a breath, and think about your answer. It is your responsibility as the director in the room to do that. And that moment has truly changed my whole perspective and conversation.
A full day & a half of inspiring, creative & productive workshops later, we were then working with our casts and writers, and given the space to work on our commissioned scripts (mine being ‘Claw Hammer’ by the amazing Matthew Bulgo, what an absolute joy).
The following few days and evenings were challenging, exciting & hard-working. My incredibly enthusiastic and talented cast of Jose & Oat worked constantly, concentrating on pace, rhythm, lines, characters, intentions, the world and his wife, bringing Matthew’s creation to life. We began the process by me asking the two actors to consider the themes, facts, objectives and obstacles of their characters before even attempting to learn any lines. We then discussed what they discovered, unpicking and exploring the wonderful Bulgo words. We then endeavoured to get the piece on it’s feet, the actors frantically and successfully learning their lines in a day, allowing us to play in the space and find their obstacles and objectives physically appearing in the space. With minimal need for set, lights and sound, we had the pleasure of playing with the pace, the rhythm, the silence. The more we ran the play, the more the actors found and the more I saw their journey grow. By the end my job became easy the more the actors found their rhythm.
In the words of Bulgo himself “Things can escalate. Very quickly.” And escalate they did. All of a sudden it was Thursday, the cast nailed the opening show. It was so wonderful to be able to see the 5 other directors pieces. It was really clear at this point that the company of The Other Room know what they are doing; each director brought something unique to their piece, a colourful plethora of ideas and passions. I eventually relaxed – in the immortal words of High School Musical “We’re all in this together”.
THEN. The writer’s scripts. First thing Friday morning meeting Nerida Bradley’s script “Wisdom Teeth” – exploring themes of male mental health & suicide. Once again I found myself in a position of being completely in awe of the people around me at this festival, and a reminder that here in Cardiff you don’t need to look far to find pure and truthful talent, and for me I just had to look at Nerida. She gave us a piece full of truth, discussion, poetry, and a conversation of deep importance. Working on those two scripts and reaching the end of the week, I found myself considering me the luckiest person in the world. Amidst all my fear, lack of belief and downright anxiety – I landed in a place where I thought; hang on, I think I’m going to be ok. I’m surrounded by talent and a shared belief that the arts in Cardiff is alive and definitely kicking. That what I and we do is a true gem, diamond even – we are the storytellers. And that week, by jove we told some stories.
What TOR and YAF 2018 has done is bring people together, created a new community & brought necessary attention to this pool of creative people. Hear their voices world – because these people that I shared a bar and theatre with for a whole week, have got something to say. And they are ready to tell you.