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5 Minutes with: Charlotte Gwinner: 'I feel like I've been tutored by Samuel Beckett'

Director Charlotte Gwinner talks about her upcoming production of Waiting for Godot at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre

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Charlotte Gwinner in rehearsals for The Distance
© Johan Persson

In some ways I feel as though I've been tutored in theatre by Samuel Beckett. I think the greatest lesson you can ever learn as a director is reading Beckett's cannon, which I did when I first started working in theatre. There are lots of reasons for doing Waiting for Godot now. I think it is a play that exists for many times, it's exploring what we make out of deprivation, or how we work against adversity. I feel really strongly that it's not a doomy play. The play is about how we come together to create a life force when there is nothing.

We have put a lot of effort into the tree and the mound that are mentioned in the text. They have a kind of intensity and realism and we've put those against a very barren, deprived landscape. We wanted to plant these objects within that landscape almost like exhibits. There's a lot of energy that has gone into the designs.

There have been several Beckett plays produced in Sheffield. The build up into one of the big classics – Waiting for Godot - is a continuation of that and it's really exciting to be part of the audience's journey.

I didn't train in directing. I studied anthropology at university. I was very lucky to be put on the work experience at the Royal Court when Stephen Daldry was running it. He opened my eyes to the fact that everything I loved could be channelled through this medium. Once I started working at the Royal Court I never looked back. I asked people if I could stage manage so I could be in a rehearsal room and then asked if I could assistant direct, so I started at the bottom and I tried lots of different things before I became a director.

Working at Sheffield Theatres has been an absolute career highlight. It's to do with the audience, it's to do with the outward face of the theatre, it's to do with the balancing of the programme and it's to do with the people in the building. There's a terrific energy put into making the work as good as it can possibly be and that is really exciting.

My advice to up and coming directors is to feel confident about your vision. You should know that it may not be that you get there really quickly and it may be that your trajectory is different to other directors but that doesn't necessarily mean anything about your work. It's just about trusting your vision and trying to get as many people around you to do the same.

Waiting for Godot runs at Sheffield Crucible from 4-27 February.

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