Making Earthquakes

15 Nov 2019

Earthquakes in London is Bristol Old Vic Theatre School's latest show and one that is very timely, written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster; King Charles III) and directed by Cressida Brown (Offstage Theatre), it combines the political and personal to explore the anxieties of youth, confronted by predictions of catastrophic climate change. We chatted with Lucy Hayes, Assistant Director, who is studying for an MA in Drama Directing at the Theatre School, about her role on the show.

What does the role of Assistant Director entail?

The role of the assistant director is really to support the director and the production. This can manifest in many different ways depending on their needs and the needs of the show, but essentially you’re a second pair of eyes and ears in the room.

Why did you choose to study Drama Directing?

To tell stories better! I felt like I was starting to develop a kind of methodology as a director, and I wanted to a space to scrutinise that process and make it better. To spend time thinking about the craft of directing, and to be in a creative and nurturing environment seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

I’ve really enjoyed some of the workshops that we’ve had - working with Donnacadh O’Briain, or going to observe some of Sally Cookson’s rehearsals for Peter Pan. But my favourite experience has probably been a show that I directed for a scratch writing night at the school. I got to work on it again over the summer, and collaborate with the actors and one of the MA designers, and we performed it at The Actors Centre. It was such a lovely process, and wonderful to see it develop to a full show from that initial scratch night.

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for Earthquakes in London?

How demanding the play is! The original version was over 4 hours long. Some Acts have over 20 locations, so crafting both the scenes themselves, and the transitions between scenes has been challenging. 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Earthquakes in London?

It’s been really amazing to work with students and members of staff from all of the different departments in the school and the team at Bristol Old Vic. Everyone occasionally crosses paths, but it feels really special to have the whole school collaborating together over a show. 

No spoilers, but what does the technical/creative team have in store for the audience?

Eeeee! In each Act, the characters have a different relationship with the space, so that’s really exciting. And how will we do the eponymous earthquake? I can’t tell you, obviously.

Earthquakes in London plays in The Weston Studio, with tickets from £15, 7–16 Nov. For more info and to book tickets, click here.