“In September I went to Jersey. It was my first time visiting the island and the first time going on a creative retreat, so I was excited.
When I started on the Artistic Director Leadership Programme I was joyful at the prospect of developing my skills as a leader and learning about running a theatre company. I never dreamed that I’d be able to develop more holistically as an artist — that being the Trainee Artistic Director (TAD) at tiata fahodzi would actually help me realise my ambitions as a writer as well as a theatre director and artistic director.
When I mentioned my desire to write, Natalie Ibu (Artistic Director and CEO of tiata fahodzi) was supportive and sought to help me fit it in to my busy schedule. She talked about the importance of taking time out, just to think about the creative, the art, the craft, without it being just a snatched hour of the day, in amongst lots of other to-dos. Natalie contacted ArtHouse Jersey to arrange for us both to have that precious time. Tom Dingle and the team at ArtHouse Jersey kindly agreed for us to come and it was arranged — I’d be going for a week, I can work on my writing and be able to explore and think about a new tiata fahodzi play we’re going into R&D with this October. I couldn’t wait!
The flight to Jersey was quick. I didn’t realise I’d only be in the air for like half an hour. The weather was lovely, thank God and Tom kindly picked me up from the airport, when I arrived.
Chateau Vermont is beautiful and unique — a mansion with very large rooms, some the size of my flat in Watford!
It was interesting to be staying in a house with other artists, bumping into them in the kitchen when having my dinner and hearing about their work and their aspirations. It was a pleasure to get to know Andy Brunskill and Jimmy Grimes of Brunskill and Grimes and hearing about their show ‘Jackie’ whilst seeing the beginnings of an impressive puppet being made in the conservatory.
During my stay I was able to finish a new draft of my play ‘Gomer’, in which I use spoken word and poetry to explore love — the choices you make in romantic relationships and the consequences of them. I was pleased to have completed this draft and taken an important step in the development of the play — an idea I’ve been working on since 2010! It would have taken me a lot longer to arrive at this draft if I hadn’t gone on this retreat, so I was very happy.
a new tiata fahodzi play
We spent a day looking at a new tiata fahodzi play, which I will direct. It was so enjoyable to read and discuss the issues within it, the characters and what the writer would like to explore in the R&D. I’ve never worked with a dramaturg or sat with a fellow director to read a play and discuss it like this, it was a pleasure to do so. The time we spent on the play confirmed our excitement about it’s potential — we love it. Stay tuned and join our mailing list to be the first to know what we’re working on, when we announce.
I had a great mentoring session with Natalie at the end of the week, helping me work out a strategy for developing myself as a writer whilst being a director as well. Having been training and working as a director for around 6 years now, I am much more experienced as a director than as a writer — I’ve found it difficult, to work out how to further my craft in both of them at the same time. Natalie encouraged me to build a network of people who could help me develop in my writing — finding an experienced writer, who I admire, to mentor me and getting actor-friends to read what I’ve written, out loud, so I can hear how it sounds. I’m really excited about the possibilities of what I can create, going forward.
In the mentoring session we also talked about what I imagine my next steps will be after my TAD residency and whether I feel ready for artistic director leadership. It was great to have this uninterrupted time with Natalie, who’s schedule is usually packed full with plenty of things for her to focus on. It was really useful to get her advice and answers to my questions whilst chilling in a quaint Jersey café with our Americanos and fried egg butties.
On the last day of being in Jersey, I took a break, I took the opportunity to explore this beautiful island and walk along the beach, it was lovely.
I recommend that everyone takes time to go on a creative retreat, it doesn’t have to be like mine — going all the way to Jersey. Go somewhere quiet that allows you to dream, imagine and create, it’s definitely worth it. “
Anastasia Osei-Kuffour is a British, Theatre Director and Writer. Productions include Cuttin’ It by Charlene James, (Royal Court UK schools tour,) and Footprints on The Moon by Maureen Hunter (Finborough Theatre). She has worked as an assistant director in theatres such as the National Theatre, Royal Court, Young Vic, Gate Theatre, Unicorn Theatre and Greenwich Theatre. She is currently Trainee Artistic Director at tiata fahodzi theatre company and a Leader of Tomorrow on the Artistic Director Leadership Programme.