This week’s blog is from SDUK Member Robert Awosusi on the challenges of working as both writer and director.
Think about the amount of work you do as a director: formulating the vision, casting, planning rehearsals, liaisons with the creative team, the dramaturgy, those endless, endless strings of emails you send back and forth with your designer at 3am in the morning trying to decide on the right tartan print you want on the upstage settee in scene 3 because you’re not convinced the current one is able to convey “authenticity” in a satisfactory way (admittedly this is not a true story). Now imagine for a production you had to do all these things and then on top of that you actually have to write the thing! In case you hadn’t picked up I’m trying to get across being a writer and director is hard.
“Having the chance to meet and candidly talk with other creatives who have similar jobs and varying experiences was an incredibly refreshing remedy to the struggle.”
That’s why I was excited when SDUK approached me to host their most recent breakfast meeting. Whilst I’m at a stage in my career where I’ve experienced both roles in some capacity, I’m still trying to find the same confidence as a writer as I have in my directing work. It’s worse when I try and do both, terrified of trapping myself in an echo chamber of my own making. Having the chance to meet and candidly talk with other creatives who have similar jobs and varying experiences was an incredibly refreshing remedy to the struggle. In trying to exist and survive as artists it’s important we band together as much as possible, especially during the harder periods; especially those of us without the money, privileges and connections that make theatre-making a whole lot easier. This is what I find most useful from these meetings; being able to talk and muse without the pressure of having the answers, especially as we’re often in positions where we feel we always need to. The thing we often lack as theatre makers, especially as directors, (even more as writer/ directors) is self care, especially when taking on so much in our craft. We’ll never be able to put on great work if we can’t survive long enough to make it happen. A useful mention was the Unbroken festival at the end of August, which was a festival focusing on wellbeing and mental health in the arts. We need to keep talking to each other, as artists and as human beings. Every conversation with another maker doesn’t need to start with a CV recital.
It was also incredibly useful having Jemma (SDUK’s Membership Engagement Officer) present who was able to give us an insightful lowdown on some of the more practical elements of being a writer/ director, such as dealing with contracts, producers and agents. Which goes back to my first point – if you are a writer/ director:
IT. IS. HARD.
YOU ARE DOING 2 JOBS.
Be proud of yourself.
But make sure you get your money.