Theatre

Talking to “Typical” Director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour

Anastasia Osei-Kuffour trained as a Director through the Young Vic Directors Programme and is currently Associate Director at #Theatre503, Artistic Director of Wrested Veil Production Company and Talent Development Associate at tiata fahodzi having completed two years as Trainee Artistic Director at tiata fahodzi as part of the Artistic Director Leadership Programme.

Direction includes: Seeds (UK tour, Leeds Playhouse, Live Newcastle, Derby Theatre & Warwick Arts Centre); Typical (Soho Theatre & Pleasance Courtyard Edinburgh Fringe & Audible version); Cuttin’ It (Royal Court, UK schools tour-19 schools); Footprints on the Moon (Finborough Theatre); An Adventure (an excerpt, Bush Theatre ); Cell (Young Vic); Here Comes the Bride (Black Lives, Black Words at Bush Theatre); All the Ways to Say Goodbye (Young Vic); Hosea’s Girl (Talawa Studio Firsts); Dishonour, You Know That I’ll Be Back & Universally Speaking (Theatre503). 

Associate and Assistant Director credits include: good dog (Spring 2019 National Tour); mixed brain (Roundabout, Summer Hall Edinburgh); Macbeth & Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre Dorfman, Stratford Circus, UK schools tour); Cuttin’ It — Young Vic’s Jerwood Assistant Director Programme, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation (Young Vic, Royal Court, Birmingham REP, Sheffield Theatres and The Yard); Flowering Cherry, Alpha Beta & Andy Capp (Finborough); Three Generations of Women (Greenwich); Plaques and Tangles (Royal Court); Idomeneus (Gate); Henry the Fifth (Unicorn); and — as Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Director — A Doll’s House (Young Vic).

  • Why did you want to direct Typical?

When I read the script I found it engaging, poetically powerful, fun in parts, heart-breaking as well and I enjoyed the musical references and the jokes within it. After I read it, I realised it was based on a true story, a story I did not know about, I immediately felt an urgency and passion within me to direct it and get the story out to the masses. It felt like everyone needs to know about the true-life story it is based on and I wanted to be a part of bringing an important message to the world.

  • Do you have a particular favourite line or scene from Typical?

I particularly like the bit of the play when our protagonist gets into the club. We see him go through a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences, from realising the awkwardness of being alone there, feeling the hope of love when he sees and dances with an attractive woman, to being confronted by men who make racist remarks. We see a Black man trying to avoid trouble, a man trying to have fun a man hoping to find love and it is great to watch.

Richard Blackwood in Typical: WIN TICKETS HERE
  • Do you have a fave playwright that you would like to work with?

I definitely have writers that I admire, like Debbie Tucker Green, Somalia Seaton, Vinay Patel and Sabrina Mahfouz. I am drawn to writers that write plays that reveal truth about the human condition, writers that speak about important subjects that the world needs to pay attention to, writers who express issues and stories in powerful ways that can create awareness, spark change, touch and move people. Writers who write those plays are my faves, they are who I would like to work with.

  • What is it like directing a one man show as opposed to a full cast. Is it more challenging?

I would not say directing a one-man show is more challenging, it just presents different kinds of challenges. When directing a one man show I feel there is a greater need to support the actor emotionally and mentally as well as getting them to be performance ready, because they have no co-stars to connect with and rely on. They carry the show on their shoulders alone once they start performing, so my priority is to give them all the tools that can help them be secure in doing that. I also have to pay particular attention to making sure that the show is engaging throughout, which is not an easy thing when there’s only one person on stage.

  • What has been your favourite production to direct?

I love all the productions I have directed, but if I had to pick one that was the most enjoyable to direct, it would be ‘Cuttin’ It’ by Charlene James which I directed for the Royal Court’s schools tour in London and in Birmingham. This again is exactly the kind of play I love – strong writing, deals with an important subject and reveals truth about the human condition. It was a joy to work with the Royal Court’s team and the two performers – Marième Diouf and Jessica Kalissa. The best thing was being able to see students engage and be moved by the play, learning about something that they never knew before.

  • What was it like working with Blackwood?

It was great to work with Richard, he was fun to talk to, worked hard and brought a joy and depth to the role that was great to watch. It was challenging also because of the subject matter of systemic racism and the fact that it was a one man show which he had to perform alone, part of my role was to try and relieve some of the pressure he felt, pressure that was understandable – we were dealing with a subject matter that we can relate to personally and we wanted to honour the life of Christopher Alder in the best way possible. Overall, it was great to work with such an experienced performer.

  • How has lockdown been for you professionally?

It has been really challenging. For over eight years now I have focussed on creating theatre to be performed to a live audience, it has been heart-breaking not being able to do that in the same way anymore, it has meant a reduction in the work available to me and therefore a reduction to my income. However, it has opened doors for me that I wouldn’t have expected to happen for me so soon, like being able to direct my first film – adapting the stage play of Typical to a filmed version so that people can watch online at home. It has made me explore other mediums of telling stories, like radio/audio and TV, which I wouldn’t have considered so much if the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t happen.

  • Lockdown has put race on the agenda how do you think that will play into the theatre space when black theatre companies are feared to have been hit the most? 

What I hope is that greater awareness of the issues we have in the UK regarding race will result in many initiatives being created to support companies led by people of colour.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring theatre directors?

I would say, watch lots of theatre, connect with the Young Vic Theatre and their Directors programme which is a big help for directors in developing their craft, and lastly I would say explore, try, play – create something whichever way you can so that you can find out what you enjoy doing and get better at it.

  • What’s next after lockdown?

I am hoping to be able to direct more theatre, films and audio drama. I also hope to finish writing my first play and get it produced. Importantly I am looking forward to seeing my family, friends and connecting with artists in person again. I miss all of that!

Typical is available to watch from the 24th of Feb. Audiences can stream and watch anytime. Go to the website and pre-register before 23rd at midnight for an Early Bird discount. ENTER OUR COMPETITION HERE.

https://sohotheatreondemand.com/show/typical

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