Dear Accidental Director…

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Dear Accidental Director,


If like me, directing emerged from you unexpectedly like the late-twenties flowering of a second head, you may not fit the profile usually associated with directors. You might, dare I say it, even be a bit sensitive and introverted if the act of directing was preceded by another dark, voyeuristic art such as photography, painting or writing.


Directing for me, was a reaction to a life event that provoked the impulse to do something challenging and illusory, something that absorbed people in a new aesthetic world where a different set of controls ruled…if only for an hour. The role, or second head, then felt weirdly familiar and comfortable like an ideal relationship or pair of slippers rediscovered.


I thought it’d be fun to document some of the things you learn fast as an accidental director…the things that are integral to the labyrinth of show-making but that no one tells you. Some of these things might be specific to being a young woman. Some of them might just be specific to being me. It’d be interesting to see what common experiences could be shared here…


  • Each project will feature one or two solid gold encouragers and at least one individual who rains on your ambition for it like the cloud incarnation of ‘Sad Sack.’ Focus on the good and trust your own rationale as to the validity of wet comments.


  • Actors are often programmed to flirt; it’s a mechanism for surviving drama school. It’s good to remember that the flirting, more often than not, is more to do with an their desire to be magnificent and appreciated in the world than it is to do with you. Although, I’m sure you’re lovely and magic does happen sometimes.


  • When recruiting tech’ and creative team, give credence to your initial instincts about the capability and personality of a person as well as their CV and chat.


  • Good advice. Sometimes the good advice you receive is good, but not 100 % of the time. Arts Managers aren’t Gods – they’re busy and working with limited resources. You’re a grown-up – look to how it’s reconciled by your own judgement.


  • Deciding that production admin’ can be done after a day in the studio is a risky decision – just how knackered are you going to be after that day in the studio hmm? Carve out better time.


  • You will never have enough time to invite everyone you want to invite to your show – delegate this as early in the process as possible.


  • Some venues just don’t distribute…anything. Get a flyering gang out three months prior even if the travel expense makes you unwell…


  • You will be condescended to. Know it, observe it. Brush it off your system as soon as you hear it. Vow never to do this to anyone in the near or distant future.




  • Nothing happens entirely to plan, there will always be spanners.
  • There is a way around that spanner.
  • If you can’t immediately see the way around that spanner – let it hang around for a day or two while you consider it…’I’ve got your number spanner…you looking at me? I see you…what we need is another implement that functions like a spanner but isn’t one. I’m going to call my old friend Mrs Allen-Key.’ You get the idea.

To be continued… 

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