It's about directing things that we wish we'd studied or wish we'd seen.
Directors Balisha Karra and Finley-Rose Townsend on becoming REP Foundry artists
What made you first want to direct theatre?
We both got into theatre initially as we both wanted to be actors, but it was through our studies that we began to try our hand at directing. It was almost an instantaneous realisation from then on that directing is what we wanted to do. Fitting things into place, interrogating language and exploring themes and issues brought out our passion in a way that performing never could.
Our studying of drama further then took us to begin to explore the lack of representation in what we were both studying and seeing. This is what made us not only want to direct theatre but to direct in our way. We're very much about diversity, and we're keen to direct and create work that is representative of our backgrounds and the faces and stories that make up our every day lives. For us it's about directing things that we wish we'd studied or we wish we'd seen.
What excites you most about being a REP Foundry artist?
We both have a very good relationship with The REP as a building and a theatre. It was the first place in Birmingham where we began to see work that was telling a diverse range of stories by a diverse range of people and they were good! But also The REP has a tendency to not let you ever really leave once you've stepped through the door. We both came here a few years ago as workshop participants, then volunteers and now members of staff and Foundry artists. We always knew when applying for the Foundry that we would be in good hands. Particularly because of the staff who work on the Foundry. Some of our favourite directors are Foundry associates and it really is incredible for us to be given the opportunity to work so closely and to learn from and with directors who we think so highly of.
If you could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be, and why?
We would love to collaborate with Canadian feminist poet, writer and spoken word artist Rupi Kaur. We love the work she does and her ethos is very similar to ours, we have had a few fantasy conversations between ourselves about the beautiful type of devised work we could create together and it is a prospect that leaves us feeling very inspired.
On the other side of that, working again with rhythm and poetry we really respect London grime artist Skepta and the work he has done and is continuing to do for the grime scene in the UK. We love him both politically and artistically and would love to transfer the movement he has headlined alongside his collective BBK, to the stage as we feel it absolutely has a place there and would love to see what it created.
Who or what in theatre inspires you most?
Theatre's unavoidable and unique role as social commentator is what we find most inspiring about the art form. There are so many things for us that theatre can do in a way that other forms can't. For example, the way in which theatre is always exploring vital messages and constant questions in different ways is what keeps on inspiring us, even when we see theatre that we don't like it inspires us to try and create theatre that we do.
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