I have been incredibly lucky to have observed back-to-back at the two major opera houses in the UK over the past three months and I thought it was about time I took a little moment to reflect. First of all I was in the English National Opera rehearsal room for Phelim McDermott's production of Aida (Latonia Moore and Gwyn Hughes Jones) - a multi-faceted production with a circus skills team and a stunning set designed by Tom Pye - lead with the inspiration from the Open Space principles and the general Improbable style and process. I then jumped straight into holding the Directing Observership at The Royal Opera House on Katie Mitchell's revival of Lucia di Lammermoor (Lisette Oropesa and Charles Castronovo) - a feminist perspective on this opera which features surprising little of the protagonist, beautifully designed by Vicki Mortimer.
Both of these experiences have been remarkable in identifying my own process as a director - and being in rehearsal rooms for such an extended period of time has reminded me quite how much I love the job I do. Although I greatly respect both directors in this instance (I've seen lots of work by both of them and have studied/researched their styles and processes) my reflection is mostly how important the role of the assistant director is in these rooms - and that a good assistant can really help make a show. I suppose I would say that. But as well as Phelim and Katie, I've had the pleasure of watching some fantastic assistants do their job and in turn, enabling the cast and creative team to do theirs too. This is integral to a fulfilling and successful show - and although you may not always recognise a good assistant from the outside - (the good ones are usually quite invisible until required) it's been a thrill to watch some of these people be outstanding at their jobs. Some of these people included; Heather Fairbairn, Lily McLiesh, Jamie Manton and Joe Austen.
I don't think good assistants always get credited enough so here's me doing my bit - I think we probably have to try and make those little changes from the inside to say thank you and give praise.
Why not read: