JMK Assistant Director Blog – Alice Wordsworth

"You have to be bold and confident in who you are and what you can bring. Get yourself into the rooms where you can meet the right people who can offer you opportunities."

Alice Wordsworth is our most recent JMK Leverhulme Assistant Director bursary recipient at Wiltshire Creative; she assisted Ryan McBryde on 'Love on the Links' in the main house at Salisbury Playhouse. In this guest blog, she shares the tips and experiences she's gathered...

Why did you apply for the JMK Trust Assistant Director bursary?

I wanted to become more involved with my local theatre and this offered me a brilliant platform to do so. However, it was not only the engagement with all the local creatives that is so brilliant about this bursary, it is the connections with a director and cast who work nationally and who have years of experience for you to absorb that made me eager to apply. The JMK Trust has been a springboard for so many emerging directors into the professional industry and its programmes and award are recognised and hugely respected across the UK.

What are the main 3 things you learnt from working on the production?

I learnt how to generate a rehearsal room where all ideas are encouraged and tried, enabling you to create shared responsibility. Ryan would accept any creative offer from his cast and try it and work with it until something better came from, an approach that took great patience, but created a collaborative environment.

I also learnt how to manage the director / writer relationship. They can be difficult conversations to navigate and you need to accept that there will be clashes of creativity and to know when to pick your battles.

I learnt how to use and reinvent a set. How to maximise all you have on stage and to be original and resourceful, by turning something into the unexpected. A technique that continually excites and engages an audience.

What are you working on in 2018/19 and how will this experience help?

I am heading to Birkbeck in September to do my MFA in Theatre Directing. My JMK bursary enabled me to see what working in this industry could be like and I am now keen to acquire more knowledge and expand my toolkit. 

What advice do you have for directors just starting out?

Perseverance. A dedication to keep trying and to tackle everything and anything that is thrown at you. You have to be bold and confident in who you are and what you can bring. Get yourself into the rooms where you can meet the right people who can offer you opportunities. A cheeky tip I’ve learnt is to attend press nights and know what the director of the play looks like, compliment them on their show and then ask them for a coffee to learn more about their process. From this conversation make sure you book in another, where you’ll then ask to be their assistant!

What advice would you most like to receive at this stage of your career?

That it is hard for everyone along the way, but that if you keep throwing yourself out there, one day you’ll get seen. That I can make a full time living out of this profession. And most importantly, that I will one day call it my profession, with confidence. 

What excites you most about directing?

That everyday is different. That your desk can be in a different location everyday and that most days your desk doesn’t even involve a laptop! It involves real people, right in front of you, bursting with ideas they want to share and you have the opportunity to bring them to life.

This JMK bursary was kindly supported by the Leverhulme TrustFind our more about taking part in our National Programme of directors' groups here.