Meet our Costume Team | LoveCostume2019

Today we’re celebrating our brilliant costume department team on Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 as they feverishly prepare for the opening of our next production Tree which runs from 29 July.

Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 Photo by Anthony Lee © Young Vic (1)

(L to R) Keshini Ranasinghe, Naomi SL Thompson, Sydney Florence, Rebecca Barnett, Catherine Kodicek and Kinnetia Isidore.

We sat down with Catherine Kodicek (Head of Costume), Kinnetia Isidore (Deputy Head of Costume), and Rebecca Barnett (Waredrobe Manager) to find out more about what it’s like to work as costume professional at the Young Vic.

What is it like to work in a costume department?

K: Every day is different, it’s a bit like going on a mad adventure with a team of people with different skills all working towards a shared goal.

C: It is very satisfying to work in costume. The hours can be long and you lose a lot of your evenings but the sense of camaraderie and teamwork is so rewarding. Also, the work is exciting, choosing the right costume, finding the right fabric, searching for the right vintage piece, nailing a quick change, restoring a costume to perfection night after night, there are so many different aspects to the costume world it is an unconventional ‘day to day’.

Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 Photo by Anthony Lee © Young Vic (5).jpg

I can get really excited about finding the perfect button or the exact garment because I know that these elements will enhance the whole production. And whether the piece is going to challenge the audience’s opinions and assumptions or make them laugh or give them a much-needed escape, the costumes are an integral part of it and you have contributed to it and made that connection to another person.

R: I absolutely love working in costume. It means the world to me to be able to do my passion for a living! For me working in costume allows me to become a huge part of the magic of a show. The job can sometimes be intense and thankless but when you open a show and get to see all your hard work and effort come to life it’s something truly magical and it still gives me goosebumps and such an adrenaline rush!

Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 Photo by Anthony Lee © Young Vic (2)

How did you get into costume?

K: It began as an excuse to fuel my vintage clothing shopping addiction and I ended up doing a degree in costume design.

C: I worked in a bank for six years before realising that my Amateur Dramatics costume work was more exciting and gave me more joy. I completed a costume production degree at Rose Bruford College as a mature student, working throughout my holidays and evenings so that when I graduated I had a pretty good CV. I was then very lucky to get a full-time job in the Basingstoke Haymarket when it was a producing house and never looked back.

R: I studied technical theatre at university and did a placement module in which I was a wardrobe assistant on Evita, Slovenia. I was very fortunate that my design tutor was also a working designer and asked me to do the show with him in the summer. From there I made contacts and started doing more and more shows and had a tour as Wardrobe deputy lined up for when I finished.

Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 Photo by Anthony Lee © Young Vic (6)

Rebecca (Wardrobe Manager)

What is the difference between working in costume for theatre and working in Film or TV?

K: Working in costume in theatre is like being in a family, there is nothing like the atmosphere backstage before a show. I think you can get away with being a bit more creative when you don’t have the pressures of viewing costumes under the eye of an HD camera. I feel you are able to build strong bonds and relationships with backstage teams and casts throughout the run of a show, there is something about the excitement of live performance that brings everybody together.

C: Theatre and live events like Opera and Dance are immediate. You can spend a lot of time working on the creation of the show and in technical rehearsal, although the best part is getting to see the show performed in front of an audience. The sense of shared common purpose with a fixed deadline is also galvanizing. Everyone is working towards the same deadline. In film or tv, you may be waiting two years in post-production to see the fruits of your labor.

Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 Photo by Anthony Lee © Young Vic (3).jpg

Once the show opens, it is your job to replicate the show for each audience so that it feels fresh and new every time. No two performances are the same. Unlike film where it is set, theatre audiences reactions form part of the show, there is nothing like standing backstage and hearing an audience react to a line being spoken live onstage.

Costume Professionals Appreciation Day 2019 Photo by Anthony Lee © Young Vic (7).jpg

R: Part of the joy of my job is the live aspect of it. The rush of a quick change and the crazy moments when you have to quickly fix a garment in the seconds when actors come off stage! I have loved theatre from a very young age and think it is truly a privilege and joy to be a part of!

Tree runs at the Young Vic from 29th July until 24th August. Book now.

Photos by Anthony Lee

Meet Caitriona Shoobridge | Director of Ivan and the Dogs

Genesis Future Directors Award winner Caitriona Shoobridge has recently directed Hattie Naylor’s Ivan and the Dogs which runs in The Clare studio until 20 July.

This one-person play with Alex Austin as Ivan explores the need for kindness and trust in the face of adversity.

We sat down with Cat to find out more about her career and her Young Vic debut.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into directing?

I belonged to a youth theatre from quite a young age and just became obsessed with theatre. I didn’t really find my ‘thing’ at school and so didn’t do higher education but theatre I always kept coming back to. It’s been the constant thing in my life and has opened my eyes to many different worlds, cultures and possibilities. 

What do you love about the play ‘Ivan and the Dogs’ by Hattie Naylor?

It is such an extraordinarily unique piece of writing. My favourite thing about it is that it feels both ancient and familiar to us as fairytales do but at the same time is also incredibly pertinent to the world right now. 

Alex Austin in Ivan and the Dogs. Designer Basia Bińkowska. Lighting Designer Elliot Griggs. Photo by Anthony Lee

Can you describe Ivan and the Dogs in just 5 words?

No, it is too epic!

What has been your best moment while directing this show?

I don’t think I can pick out a single moment as the whole journey from start to finish has been brilliant. One of my favourite things about making it has been collaborating with an extraordinary creative team and company. That has been pure joy. 

The sound design is really integral part of this production. Can you tell us more about that? Who are the voices we can hear?

Yeah, there are 19 offstage characters that Ivan encounters in his story who are given to us in a soundscape in Russian dialogue. We used the idea of the soundscape as the central part of the concept for design and thought; what is the most we can do with this? What if we made the entire world from sound?

Have you learnt anything new from this experience?

There are so many things! A big one is definitely having a creative team around you that you trust to share your biggest ideas with and who you can take a risk with. Another would be holding your nerve when executing that idea. And finally the ability to zoom out from it at the end of the process and understand that your work consists of everything you’ve done on the journey and not just what happens on the night. 

Alex Austin in Ivan and the Dogs. Photo by Anthony Lee.

What are your top tips for anybody reading this who is interested in becoming a director?

Really think about who you are as person and what you as an individual you bring to your work. I find that theatres are only interested in finding out who you are and not listening to what you may think they want to hear. Oh and join the Young Vic Directors Program!

Tell us about how it felt to be a 2019 Genesis Foundation Future Directors Award Recipient? 

Best feeling ever.

What has it been like working at the Young Vic? What’s been your favourite part?

The Young Vic is undoubtedly one of my favourite theatres. It’s incredibly supportive of emerging directors from the core artistic team to production to front of house everyone is brilliant and there’s something to learn from everyone. I’ll remember this experience for a long time. 

What are you looking forward to doing after this production?

Spending time with my daughters and hopefully making another one? 

Ivan and the Dogs runs at the Young Vic until 20th July. Availability is limited but returns are released online. A returns queue is open from one hour before each performance.

Director Caitriona Shoobridge
Designer  Basia Bińkowska
Lighting Designer  Elliot Griggs
Sound Designer  Xana
Casting Director  Lotte Hines
Movement Director  Natasha Nixon
Voice Coach Anne-Marie Speed
Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Directors Tian Brown-Sampson, Grace Duggan

With Alex Austin

Key Facts: Tree

From Kwame Kwei-Armah: “This has been a painful period not just for the parties involved but also for the sector.  As the Artistic Director of the Young Vic, my responsibility is to answer to the statements made by Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley factually and truthfully, but also to hear the pain.”

Statements made by Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley in their article published on Medium on 2nd July 2019, entitled ‘Tree. A Story of Gender and Power in Theatre.’:

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: “Female writers removed from theatre production ‘Tree’ after working on it for four years.”


Tori and Sarah were approached by Idris Elba in 2015 to help him develop his idea for a production based on his original concept, which was inspired by his personal story and his ‘mi Mandela’ album. In 2016 Green Door Pictures and Duchess Street Productions engaged Tori and Sarah to write a script for consideration, which was then workshopped.

This is work that was paid for in full at the time by Green Door Pictures and Duchess Street Productions, which was not taken up by any producers.

Any work which Tori and Sarah undertook historically was not for the current 2019 production of Tree, which is a new story based on Idris’s original idea.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: This production of Tree “has failed to acknowledge the original writers for their work.”


The Producers of the 2019 production of Tree have always acknowledged that Tori and Sarah worked with Idris Elba in 2015-16 on a script based on his original concept for a production.

Tori and Sarah are not the original writers of the 2019 Tree script, which is why they are not credited as such.

They have been acknowledged in the 2019 Tree programme foreword, in a piece written by Idris Elba where he gave thanks to those who had helped him on the journey to develop his idea along the way.

In addition to this, in acknowledgement of their historical connection to an earlier interpretation of Idris Elba’s idea, and through a desire to involve them in the new production and encourage new writing talent, Idris and Kwame invited Tori and Sarah to be part of the creative process, exploring the new direction for the 2019 production of Tree.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: Tori and Sarah mention having a document which they cite as being “a commissioning agreement, which gave us the right to veto any other writer brought in, and to approve any changes in the script. It also entitled us to a royalty should the show go ahead”


This document is a Deal Memo with Green Door Pictures and Duchess Street Productions from March 2016, relating to Tori and Sarah’s script which they were engaged to write for consideration. Any terms within that Deal Memo relate to the 2016 script.

When Manchester International Festival (MIF) decided they were interested in exploring Idris’s original concept, but in a new direction of travel – specifically for a large-scale show in Manchester – the Young Vic and Kwame Kwei-Armah were invited to collaborate.

Idris requested that Kwame meet with Tori and Sarah.  On 29th May 2018 Kwame, Tori and Sarah met to discuss how they could move the creative process forward. Kwame explained that the next step was for Idris, Kwame, Sarah and Tori to meet, to brainstorm the new direction of travel.

In the week following this meeting, MIF emailed Tori and Sarah to request their agent’s details in order to start the formal approach. Tori and Sarah responded to acknowledge the meeting went well. They also acknowledged this production was effectively a brand new piece, and the intention to abandon the old version.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT:Between June and October, there were multiple emails and phone-calls between Tori, Sarah and MIF suggesting that delays were merely down to difficult scheduling with Idris and Kwame’s diaries, along with reassurances that the project was happening.”


Due to Idris’s busy schedule, the planned initial creative meetings between Idris, Kwame, Sarah and Tori could not happen. Due to the demands of a production less than a year away, and a workshop just a few months away, in order to catch up on lost creative time Kwame wrote a first draft of an outline, intended to act as a jumping off point for discussion for the four parties, which he sent to Idris on 3rd September.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: Tori and Sarah say that on the 18th October they received Kwame’s draft outline and that they “were a bit confused as to why Kwame would be writing a synopsis. When the email came later that day, in the cover letter at the top it had Kwame’s clear intention to write the piece stating ‘when I sit to write the first draft…’. This was very surprising to us after what he had told us when we met.”


Kwame did not have intentions to write the script himself. The cover letter was referring to the document itself, this first draft outline, in an attempt to describe its purpose as a catalyst for debate, in which he said ‘when I sit to write the first draft’ that it was ‘written as a very basic guide… that will help shape the future of this narrative’.

After receiving Kwame’s first draft outline, written to be a catalyst for creative discussion, Tori and Sarah declined invitations from producers to meet for conversations. They then stated their dissatisfaction with how they perceived the new direction of travel.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: “we weren’t informed about the announcement, nor were we mentioned anywhere in it, and it was the first indication that we were being pushed off the project by far more powerful people in theatre.”


MIF communicated with Tori and Sarah’s representatives in the lead up to the announcement and they were informed of the 26th October 2018 announcement date and the 29th/30th October 2018 on-sale dates.

Before the announcement, a formal offer was made via Tori and Sarah’s agents for them to write a draft script for a workshop in January 2019. Tori and Sarah did not agree to the terms of the offer.

As no official agreements were in place about who would write the show at the point of on-sale, the MIF and Young Vic announcements of Tree did not contain any ‘written by’ credits.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: “the same people who we initially trusted… then threatened us with legal action if we spoke up.”


Tori and Sarah introduced the threat of legal action with a breach of contract case which has been refuted by legal representatives of Green Door Pictures, the commissioner of Tree.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: “the levels of intimidation and disrespect we faced were totally unacceptable”


Tori and Sarah were communicated to via their agents in a friendly and professional manner by representatives from MIF and Green Door Pictures.

Those producers took continuous measures to include Tori and Sarah in the new project out of respect for their historic connection in helping Idris develop a previous interpretation of his idea for a production.

Despite the threat of legal action, between January to the start of rehearsals, producers remained in dialogue on the subject of how things could be resolved, including mediation, in a wish to find an viable solution, subject to Tori and Sarah reading the 2019 Tree script.

TORI & SARAH’S STATEMENT: “The official line from their side is that it’s a completely different project”


The script for the 2019 production of Tree, and Tori and Sarah’s 2016 workshopped script are different projects. The 2016 workshop was a naturalistic musical about a bi-racial teenager from London, embroiled in gang culture, whose mother sent him to South Africa to visit his half-sister. The 2019 production is a non-naturalistic piece of immersive theatre, with movement and dreamscape choreography at its heart. Its core narrative is about land reform in the Orange Free State province of Bloemfontein with a storyline that follows a 33-year-old bi-racial man, who goes to visit his grandmother on a quest to scatter the ashes of his mother on his father’s grave. It is a storyline inspired by Idris’s original concept and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s 2018 visit to Bloemfontein.

Any similarities between the 2019 production of Tree, and Tori and Sarah’s 2016 workshopped script can be attributed to the fact that both were based upon the same original concept created by Idris Elba.


A statement on behalf of Green Door Pictures, Manchester International Festival (MIF) and the Young Vic

Issued on behalf of Green Door Pictures, Manchester International Festival (MIF) and the Young Vic:

We are deeply saddened to read Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley’s article published today online. Tree is a new work, based on a concept by Idris Elba with an original script by Kwame Kwei-Armah. 

It is a fact that Green Door Pictures, MIF and the Young Vic are passionate about supporting and nurturing emerging talent within the creative industry from the widest variety of backgrounds and we are committed to ensuring fair representation on stage and behind the scenes. Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley acknowledge in their article that it is common practice to workshop theatrical projects during their development, as with this project. Whilst we appreciate that they were involved in exploring ideas for a project based on Idris’ original concept, the truth of the matter is that MIF and Green Door did not feel their proposed direction was artistically viable. It was decided by these producers that the show needed to go in a very different direction with a new writer attached, using Idris Elba’s original concept as the starting point. Several offers were made to Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley to discuss the future of the show, and how the producers could continue working with them, which they declined. 

John McGrath, Artistic Director and CEO of MIF said: “Kwame came on board as director and writer of Tree at the invitation of Idris and MIF. His involvement has been characterised by the integrity and creativity for which he is widely known. His script for Tree is entirely his creation and is, in my opinion, a resonant and exciting response to the themes of Idris’s Mi Mandela album.”

Idris Elba created Green Door to champion diversity of thought and offer opportunities to gifted filmmakers from across all genres, race and gender. His two TV projects boast a 50-75% split in the writers’ room in favour of female writers, as well as an extremely diverse group ranging from British Ghanaian to West Indian and Asian. Kwame Kwei-Armah’s career in theatre, up to and including the season he has just announced for 2020 at the YV is testament to his passion and drive to support and nurture a diverse range of talent: the Young Vic Director’s Program is dedicated to nurturing and supporting emerging talent – every day a different artist from the program joined the Tree rehearsal room. His upcoming programmed work at the Young Vic champions some excellent female writers and directors. 

It is not accepted that, by moving the project in a different direction and commissioning Kwame Kwei-Armah to write a brand new script based on Idris Elba’s original concept, there has been a breach of any legal obligations owed to Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley’s original workshop contract. Despite attempts by the producers to resolve the issue with them, they decided to instruct solicitors. Efforts then continued through the parties’ lawyers to reach a compromise, which included the offer of a credit and an additional payment to acknowledge their initial involvement in the project. These proposals were made in spite of that fact that the claims by Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley have no legal basis, and were made only in the spirit of reaching a compromise. It is simply not the case that the attempts to resolve the concerns which Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley have raised were an attempt to ‘buy them off’ and it is therefore disappointing that they have characterised the position in this way.

As stated in the foreword of the Tree programme, the producers are grateful to Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley for the work they did on the initial workshops for the show, alongside all the other actors, creatives and producers who have contributed to the show along its journey. 

Tree | In the rehearsal room

Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s electrifying new blend of drama, music and dance follows one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa – with the audience at the centre of the action.

Take a look inside the rehearsal room with these photos by Marc Brenner.

Tree premieres at Manchester International Festival later this month before coming to the Young Vic from 29 July 2019. Find out more and book now.

Cast includes Christian Bradley, Lucy Briggs-Owen, Sinéad Cusack, Kurt Egyiawan, Alfred Enoch, Anna-Kay Alicia Gayle, Joan Iyiola, Anthony Matsena, Daniella May, Patrice Naiambana, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Stefan Sinclair and Andile Sotiya.

Sinéad Cusack and Alfred Enoch
Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and Choreographer Gregory Maqoma
Mbulelo Ndabeni and Anthony Matsena
Kurt Egyiawan and Lucy Briggs-Owen
Daniella May and Sinéad Cusack
Patrice Naiambana
Christian Bradley and choreographer Gregory Maqoma
Alfred Enoch
Anthony Matsena, Anna-Kay Alicia Gayle and Christian Bradley
Joan Iyiola

Tree premieres at Manchester International Festival later this month before coming to the Young Vic from 29 July 2019. Find out more and book now.

Photos by Marc Brenner.

Bronx Gothic | Production Photos

Part theatre, part dance and part visual art installation, Okwui Okpokwasili’s Bronx Gothic delves into her memories of growing up in the Bronx, before emerging into a breathtaking exploration of girlhood. Directed by Peter Born.

This UK premiere is now running at the Young Vic until 29 June.
Book tickets now from just £10.

Photography credit and copyright: Helen Murray

Bronx Gothic is now running at the Young Vic until 29 June. Book tickets from £10.

Death of a Salesman | Rehearsal Photos

Take a look inside the rehearsal room for our highly anticipated production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman directed by Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell which opens for previews this week.

Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Suits, Selma) makes his UK stage debut as Willy Loman, with Olivier Award-winning Sharon D. Clarke as Linda Loman and Arinzé Kene (Misty, Been So Long) as Biff Loman and Martins Imhangbe as Happy Loman.

Cast includes Ian Bonar, Sharon D. Clarke, Trevor Cooper, Martins Imhangbe, Arinzé Kene, Joseph Mydell, Nenda Neurer, Wendell Pierce, Jennifer Saayeng, Matthew Seadon-Young, Maggie Service and Femi Temowo.

Photos by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

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Death of a Salesman runs at the Young Vic from 1 May 2019.

Director Marianne Elliott and Miranda
Designer Anna Fleischle
Lighting Designer Aideen Malone
Sound Designer Carolyn Downing
Casting Director Charlotte Sutton CDG
Voice and Dialect Coach Hazel Holder
Fight Director Yarit Dor

With Ian Bonar, Sharon D. Clarke, Trevor Cooper, Martins Imhangbe, Arinzé Kene, Joseph Mydell, Nenda Neurer, Wendell Pierce, Jennifer Saayeng, Matthew Seadon-Young, Maggie Service and Femi Temowo.

Photos by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg