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