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Theatre Royal Stratford East. Photo by Helen Murray.

Theatre Royal Stratford East

Nadia Fall, Artistic Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East

What was the journey like getting back to theatres reopening? 

It was like a bit like an old car. It was kind of, stop, start, rev, rev, rev, stall, start again! But in the end, we are ticking over and slowly but surely getting back to what we know and love. It wasn’t an immediate thing, you know. We did lots in between, when we couldn’t open our doors, we turned our hand to a lot of stuff. But now the bars open, the punters are in. They, you know, a show on the stage, the green room buzzing. It’s just a different vibe. A lot more normal. Slowly but surely, we’re doing it. 

It must be amazing to have that kind of energy back the in the theatre? 

Yeah, I mean theatre is all about personal collaboration and interaction, and you know it wasn’t the same when the staff weren’t in the building. It was like the Mary Celeste. People were on a tag team thing and you couldn’t just pop your head around the corner and ask someone a question, or have an impromptu conversation in the bar which leads to something exciting. 

So, we’re ideas people and ideas are organic and sort of happen impromptu. So, it’s really great to have the corridors busy. But the most emotional thing was probably being in a rehearsal room and back to that, and having that talent right at you. You know, that’s what I love about being a director; you’re about a metre and a half away from pure talent. And you feel really privileged. And I think that was really much more humbling than I ever thought it would be. And being in front of the audience and having them is just… It was much more disarming than I thought it would be. I didn’t think I’d be this emotional when I first went to the theatre again, but. Both as an artistic director, but just as an audience member, you know. 

What would you say is your favourite thing about working in the theatre? 

Oh God. There’s so many favourite things, it’s theatre. We’re a funny motley crew of people that come in all different shapes and sizes or different backgrounds. But we gravitate towards the thing. And sometimes you can’t really quantify why, but we have a passion and a calling to tell stories. And it’s the way we understand the world and make sense of the world and how we engage with audiences to actively work at the idea of empathy. That through seeing a piece of live work, a play, we recognise what we have in common rather than what our differences are. So we know those of us who are in love with theatre, the power of it – in cohesion and bringing community together – is second to none. And that at this point, where people have been so isolated for so long through the pandemic, that we need to use that skill to get back in congregation.