My life as a director began at the age of 15 when I took charge of my group’s GCSE practical exam. We had all chosen drama for fun (myself included) and our exam piece was in an embarrassing state as we spent our rehearsal time clowning about (not in a good way) and enjoying the freedom to do whatever the hell we wanted.
It was 2 days before the exam and our teacher held us back after class (as usual – to be shouted at, given a detention or some other punishment – nothing new). But after this particular talk I was vexed. She had basically informed us that we were all going to fail and that we weren’t going to get anywhere in life with our “attitudes” and “behaviour”. I was furious. And sadly, I can’t say this was the first time I’d heard such prophesies from my teacher.
That very night I went straight home, came up with a proper narrative, scripted it, compiled a soundtrack, choreographed the blocking, borrowed costume from wardrobes around my house and drew pictures of all the lighting states and specials. I was ready to prove her and all the others wrong. And we did. We all achieved grades B and above (thank God for external examiners). But in all honesty I didn’t care about getting a B grade or about school in general because I had plans to pursue a career as a singer-stroke-rapper-stroke-celebrity chef (Don’t ask!).
4 years later (and much to my surprise) I am starting the BA Hons Directing course at Rose Bruford College. A further 3 years on and I am graduating and starting a work placement at the Young Vic which Annie Castledine had helped me to organise. Another 2 years and 4 projects on I’m the Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Director on Public Enemy.
This is the largest production that I have been a part of and one of the biggest learning opportunities I’ve ever had in my professional life. The revelations are happening every day; with pennies dropping by the hour. My confidence is building and the need to trial the latest model of ‘Roy The Director’ is becoming more and more intense. I’m greatly anticipating the lessons of the tech next week and witnessing the growth of the production in previews. I’ve also been invited to assist on workshops with Laura Farnworth as part of her Jerwood award, giving further insight into other ways that the Young Vic engage with the wider community through theatre. It’s increasingly difficult in this time to get into the rehearsal room of great directors without a certain level of experience or a strong recommendation. Not everybody can take the risks that were being taken before when hiring assistants but Young Vic has given me a great credit which gives my CV a boost but more importantly the opportunity to learn from a great master.
This process has really helped me to recognise my growth as a director and as a person. I hope that in a few years I can blog about directing a production of this scale on the Young Vic’s main stage. Perhaps my old drama teacher will come along and be pleasantly surprised.
Roy Weise is Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Director on Public Enemy, now playing at the Young Vic. Learn more and book tickets at youngvic.org.