JMK Assistant Director bursary recipient Nyasha Gudo shares his experience of working on The Mountaintop, written by Katori Hall and directed by Roy Alexander Weise (who won the 2016 JMK Award with this production). The show was a co-production between Reading Rep, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Desara Productions, and also toured to Northern Stage, The North Wall Oxford, Curve Theatre Leicester, Bristol Old Vic and Birmingham Rep.
How has the JMK Assistant Director bursary helped your career as a director to develop?
I acquired new skills, knowledge and experience through working on my first touring production. The bursary added to my work experience, making me more attractive to future employers as my technical knowledge and ability to lead a company have been tested and proved. Each venue required the actors to give the audience a fresh energetic performance, the challenge of maintaining the cast’s performance and teching the show at various venues, all with different technical requirements, improved my confidence helping me to develop as a director and leader.
What are the main things you have learnt from the experience?
I learnt how to technically rehearse a production efficiently and that as a director you have to create an environment where everyone involved in the process feels safe and secure. Part of creating a safe and secure environment is enabling the company to be okay with getting things wrong to get them right, including myself the director.
What have you been working on since the bursary?
Since the bursary I have been working as a drama facilitator with young adults who have additional needs, young adults in care and young careers, as a facilitator at HMP Birmingham, as a support artist to a visually impaired director, directed two short plays with poets who are first time playwrights and currently as an assistant director for an immersive piece of theatre. I will continue to expose myself to a diverse spectrum of productions, theatres and creatives because I believe a variety of skills and knowledge will make my practice as an artist effective. I will continue to look for assisting and directing roles that challenge my ability and understanding of theatre and its many forms, I have also been taking part in masterclasses with the Birmingham Opera Company as a way of looking at different forms of theatre that can help enhance my work. I am also studying the human psyche using the works of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung to help me find a way of creating work that can penetrate and occupy an audience.
What was the best thing about being the JMK Assistant director on The Mountaintop?
Apart from being paid to do what I love on such a brilliant piece of writing, I would say the opportunity to work with a black cast and director who are also the same age as me. It made the whole experience fun and liberating.