A Brief Encounter With ...Sarah EsdaileDate: 11 October 2010
Sarah Esdaile has enjoyed a varied directing career to date and her latest show, Crash, will have its world premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse later this month. Written by William Nicholson, a Tony and Academy award nominee, the play focuses on the banking crisis as interpreted through the eyes of Nick, a securities trader, and Henry, an artist.
Sarah took time out from rehearsals to discuss the importance of this new play, her love for Arthur Miller and returning to the Playhouse following her widely acclaimed production of Death of a Salesman.
Is everything on track for the opening night of Crash?
It’s all great. There’s a fantastic, rich, topical discussion going on all the time and I’m completely fascinated about how audiences might respond to it, more than I’ve been for a long time. I think it’s because all the financial stuff is quite tricky for the layman to get their head around. Partly why what’s happened has happened is we’re all educated to believe it’s beyond our understanding, and I think having a character on stage who is not a banker, who’s an artist, being so eloquent and articulate about the issue might make an audience respond with great passion and emotion. Not to do with the brilliance of the writing or the acting or my direction, but because someone’s expressing so clearly what we all feel and think.
What first attracted you to the material?
There’s a word that’s banded around often about new writing and that’s ‘urgent’, and if anything is urgent it’s this issue. It’s extraordinary, fortunate and serendipitous that it has raised its head massively again. It feels important and topical, and one of the functions of theatre is to present stories that are resonant and timely and important in a forum where people can discuss them.
But isn’t it a challenge to present such an extensively covered topic in a new and appealing way?
I feel like it is presenting it in a new way. It covers the kind of issues that people discuss over their Sunday lunch, so I think it’s a very rich subject matter for debate. I would be slightly disappointed it audiences don’t come out at the end or in the interval completely locked into their own discussions about it.
What is it like working with award-winning writer William Nicholson?
It’s really exciting to work with him on a piece that’s completely virgin territory. We’ve all worked together closely to make sure it’s all absolutely right.
Having enjoyed such as varied career so far, have you developed a preference for interpreting the classics or directing new material?
A bit of everything, really. That’s part of what I love about my job, I like having a good old mix. It keeps you on your toes as a director. I had a great time working on Salesman here at the Playhouse. Arthur Miller is a very important writer to me and I had an amazing experience working on that production. But there’s always something particularly challenging and exciting about being the first team to interpret a new piece of writing.
Does anything stand out as a particular highlight in your career?
Currently, Salesman is a bit of highlight. I was so moved by audiences’ responses and I was aware that people were meeting that play for the first time through my production, so I felt the weight of responsibility about that.
So, what does it feel like to return to the West Yorkshire Playhouse after the success of Salesman?
I know it sounds fawning, but it really does feel like a home. I’m very settled and happy here. I love working in this building. More than most other buildings I feel that I can just purely do my job here. Everyone is so hardworking and passionate about their own areas that I can sit in that rehearsal room and just get on with what I’m meant to be doing. As a result I feel that I can produce my best work. It’s a very happy relationship. I love it here. However, I’m based in London, so my poor husband gets abandoned!
Going forward, is there a particular piece of work you’d like to direct, or a playwright you would like to work with?
Before I die I want to direct everything Arthur Miller has ever written. I’d love to do Tennessee Williams, which I’ve never done. I’d love to do a big musical and another big Christmas show. I also enjoy the challenge of things that aren’t necessarily quite up my street. One of the amazing things about my job is the variety of it. I’m always working on a different kind of piece, so I’m always creatively stimulated by lots of different people.
The world premiere of Crash opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 16 October 2010, where it runs until 12 November 2010.
For tickets, contact the box office on 0113 2137700 or visit www..wyp.org.uk.
Back to Northeast Homepage