Assistant Director Internship For The Time Traveller's Wife
February 24, 2023
Working as an assistant director is often a chicken and egg scenario, with young directors not being able to get into the room until they have some experience assisting. The Time Traveller’s Wife Assistant Director Internship gave Izzy Edwards the opportunity to get into the room, with the ability, as an intern, to ask questions and feel supported to learn.
‘This internship was an incredible opportunity; nothing could have prepared me for the amount I got to do, working at this scale, the mass of kind and talented people that I got to meet. It was an experience like no other, and my career will absolutely be different because of this.’ - Izzy Edwards
What did your Assistant Director internship involve?
The core of the role was about ensuring everything was organised, essentially getting to help document live changes to a new musical as it happened. Alongside the stage managers, I made a bible of sorts of the blocking and set movements, researched quotations from the book for projections research, the list goes on. I also worked with the Stage Management team to help with scheduling and call sheets, and eventually the scheduling of our tech rehearsals. During tech I jumped between all of the departments, managing priorities and expectations - it was a great way to discover how each of the departments work.
In addition to this, I got to help oversee our young company. In The Time Traveller’s Wife, there is a younger role which three girls took turns playing throughout the run. We only had these actors in for the last few rehearsals in London before heading North to the Storyhouse in Chester. Before they joined us, I stood in for them in rehearsals and tracked their blocking, and then when they joined us, I helped to teach it to them and made sure they stayed on top of the changes that happened in tech. Getting to work closely with them was a huge highlight of my time, especially since I began my work directing in youth theatre.
Did you come across any big challenges during your internship and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge, having not worked at this scale before, was navigating some of the unspoken rules of the rehearsal room. It’s a bit like being a new kid in school, but because I was an intern, it was my job to learn things and I had the permission to ask questions. By the end I felt so much more confident in that environment, but getting my sea legs and navigating the needs of a space that large, tangled up with a healthy dose of imposter syndrome, was definitely a huge challenge. Finding mentorship and peers in the room to talk with was a really important way for me to overcome this.
What skills did you develop during your internship?
The Director, Bill Buckhurst, was so adept at making a space that the company could feel comfortable working in. In such a huge rehearsal space like the National Youth Theatre, he brought everyone together, making a rather rapid process feel open and free for experimentation and play. I learnt a huge lesson in terms of how to navigate all of these relationships in the room while also serving the vision of the show. In my own work, I also learnt a lot about the significance of listening and taking my time; everything needs to happen, but it does not always need to happen right now. Patience is key, especially when so much must be done.
What have you been up to since your internship?
I am currently the producing coordinator at the King’s Head Theatre, and this internship along with my work at King’s Head helped me secure my global talent visa, which means I can stay in the country to create and build my career here. With this in mind, I’ve begun a dramaturgy company with my friend, Robbie Nestor, called No Such Thing, which is focused on bridging the experience divide and making dramaturgy more accessible for fringe and early- to mid-career artists.
What was your favourite part of this internship?
My favourite part by far was getting to work with the young company so closely. Like I said, I started in youth direction, youth theatre, and it was so enriching to realise that that part of me could be a part of my professional practice. I didn’t even know that being a youth director was a job that existed for plays and musicals at this scale, so learning about what that meant through rehearsals and also from Katharine Wooley, our musical director who has also done work on Matilda, was so incredible. It’s definitely something I hope I get to do again someday.
And I do have to say, a close second to working with the young company? Getting to watch all of the illusions come to life (Chris Fisher is an absolute genius)!
What advice would you give to young people looking to become Directors?
Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. In any process, I know that I sometimes feel pressure - almost always self-imposed pressure - to have all of the answers, but I’ve found that a) it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to know everything, and b) no one actually expects you to know everything. Everyone is human. And being vulnerable enough to share that you’re learning through the work just like everyone else is actually helps build an environment of trust and collaboration.