Get to know: Director Zoë Waterman

Where are you from?

London originally and currently mostly based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme as I'm associate director of the New Vic theatre there. I am spending a lot of time in Wales this autumn though - I'm off to Theatr Clwyd to direct their Rock and Roll panto once 2023 is open. 

What role do you play in the production of 2023?

I'm the director, and along with Lisa Parry I'm also producing the show with our company, Illumine Theatre. 

How long have you been working in theatre, and how did you get started?

I've been a theatre director for about twelve years. I was really lucky to grow up near lots of theatres and was taken to see shows as a child - my earliest theatre memory is seeing a stage version of Button Moon. I remember it being amazing, but my dad assures me it was awful! I did acting in school shows because I didn't know about other roles in theatre, then at university discovered there were loads of off stage things I could do, and found I most enjoyed directing. I then did a masters in directing at Birkbeck College in London which gave me a really great grounding in how professional theatre works, and the industry in the UK. Since then I've been building a career working all over the UK as a freelancer, and now at the New Vic as associate director. 

How did you become involved with 2023?

The story of my involvement in this show starts over a decade ago when Lisa and I were randomly assigned to each other to make a short play for a scratch night at Theatre 503 in London. Fast forward to 2012 and we had a series of such plays under our belts and a really strong working relationship - a heavily pregnant Lisa sent me 2023 and we decided to do some R&D on it. Thanks to that pregnancy it's easy to date how long I've been involved in working on this play - that baby is now six and a half! In the meantime Lisa and I set up Illumine Theatre Company and it feels fitting that 2023 is our first full production as a company. 

How have you found the process of directing a play that's set in the future?

It's been really exciting pinning down the world in which 2023 happens. In one way, whilst it's set in the future, it's only five years ahead so it feels within reach - how much can really change in that time? On the other hand, we are at a moment in time where our politics feels incredibly precarious - for example no one has any idea how (and maybe even if) Brexit will play out - and technology is moving so quickly that phones, computers and even baby monitors could look and behave completely differently from how they do today. In rehearsals we have discussed the wider world we are in as we go through the play, creating a shared vision of our future Cardiff. It has been really important to me that these decisions have been made collaboratively as it means we all have a really good sense of where we are and what this future looks like. 

What most excites you about 2023 being performed at Chapter?

I'm really excited about telling this story to people who don't know it! Lisa has written a unique piece exploring what identity and family mean in a changing world and I'm so proud to be a part of bringing that to our audience.