Nadia Fall has directed plays at the Unicorn Theatre, the Southwark Playhouse, and the National Theatre, where her revival of Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma has been widely acclaimed by the critics. Here Nadia tells us why directing is ultimately about collaboration...
Full name/age/job title:
Nadia Fall, a lady never divulges, Theatre Director.
Please give us an overview of your average day.
There’s no such thing as a typical day, depending on where you are in the rehearsal process. I usually arrive at around 10am and have a quick cuppa with the actors and check in with each other. The day is pre-planned, so you have a set of realistic goals in mind – we allow for breaks and ideas to percolate. Sometimes, it’s as simple as giving a scene a shape or further down the line, about making part of the story clearer. We normally head home around 6pm.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
That I tell actors what to do! I have a shape in mind for the emotional story that I want to achieve and the world I want to create, but it’s imperative that this is a collaborative process, so though I would certainly want to trigger the imagination of the actor, I want them to make choices that we can together sharpen, change or discard completely,
What is the hardest thing about your role?
Initially, it’s to get the company to trust you and come on board with your vision. Because you come to the rehearsal with so much research and ideas of what you’d like to produce, it’s important not to overwhelm the actors but to feed this into suggestions to develop the story as you progress – to achieve distance from the work so that you can have an overview.
When did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?
I always knew I wanted to be involved in the arts but was initially discouraged by my parents. In a year out in Paris I started to hang out with dancers and got involved in participation work, which led to an Arts Council Bursary to become a trainee producer. I started working at Tara Arts theatre company, which allowed us to try our hand at all aspects of theatre making and it was then that I realised there was such a thing as a director. I started with lots of participation work, working with marginalised communities – for example, in prisons and mental health units. I caught the bug, threw in my job and did an MA in Theatre Directing, which led to assisting on various projects and finally to directing.
What can you do to get a head start?
I wish I knew – I would have done it myself!
The only thing you should concentrate on is making good work – however big or small it is.
Could you describe the creative element to your job?
Every aspect of the job is creative, from deciding the print image to how you want to tell the story through set, costume, the acting. Everything you’re doing is in order to realise the full impact of the story.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?
I’m still learning. I wouldn’t have done things differently as there’s no one clear route to this kind of work – you have to find your own path.
Which organisations/websites/resources do you think would be useful for people entering your industry?
I’ve found young director’s programme at the National Theatre and Young Vic invaluably helpful. The Arts Council is useful in introducing directors to companies who they may want to collaborate with.
And I spend hours in the National Theatre bookshops and French’s Bookshop, and see as much theatre in as many styles as I can both here and abroad – get yourself outside London!
Nadia Fall directs The Doctor’s Dilemma at the National Theatre, London, until 12 September. Find out more.