Part 2: 5 minutes with Assistant Directors, Priya Dosanjh and Milli Bhatia
Priya Dosanjh and Milli Bhatia are both currently working at The REP as Assistant Directors. Here we catch up with Milli, who is currently Assistant Director on What Shadows, to find out more about her role.
What is your role as Assistant Director on the production? What do you do?
My role is to be a support for other production roles in a lot of respects, and to fill in the gaps as Roxana is spinning hundreds of plates at any given time. For example, I am rehearsing the three wonderful young actresses that will rotate as the role of Young Rose, and provided research materials prior to and during rehearsals. I may also take notes of useful discoveries made in rehearsals for our movement director Anna. In the rehearsal room (between the stage manager and I) I will often be on the book to assist the actors with lines and contribute to discussion in the room.
What is the most exciting part of your role?
Watching Roxana work, and birthing ideas with the actors and writer, and to watch discoveries and choices being made. A fantastic part of working on new writing is the opportunity to educate yourself in detail about something you didn't know before. George (an actor in the company) and I went to visit a man who keeps bees last week in order to research his character. Part of the thrill is the constant engagement with new information and experiences.
What's been the best thing about working at The REP?
The REP truly make work for the communities around them which I greatly admire. I also applaud and admire their efforts to diversify their building, stages and audiences, and the range of fantastic artists that come into the building to make work. On arrival last year as a nervous director in the early stages of my career, I met so many ambitious, warm and inspiring people at The REP that have undoubtedly shaped the confidence I now have in my practice.
How did you get into directing? What has your journey been?
I began directing to address what I felt was a lack of diversity in both gender and race in the plays we put on at university, and along with a group of women in my department we started to put on our own plays. It was here that I realised my love for working with writers and to be in an engaged and passionate rehearsal room, making work that really mattered to us. I then went on to train at Birkbeck on the MFA in Theatre Directing. It was this that led me to my relationship with The REP, as I was on a placement as a resident assistant director here for a year.
What would be your advice for someone interested in pursuing a career in theatre directing?
See and read as much as you can in order to form ideas about what you do and don't like and why, and assist as many directors as you can. It is utterly invaluable to watch another director work.
Can you describe the production you're working in 5 words?
Important, timely, thought provoking, funny!