Off Book - a podcast by the Young Vic

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Gbolahan Obisesan, director of Cuttin' It and current Genesis Fellow at the Young Vic joined us on Episode 4 of Off Book. Gbolahan discusses his formative years in both Ibadan, Nigeria and Bermondsey, south London, his first steps in performing, writing, and directing and how he's approached the projects and texts he has worked on to date. We also reflected on representation and diversity in the arts and how the current political wranglings will impact on new writing over the coming years. Youn can find more from Gbolahan on Twitter:
Walter Meierjohann, Artistic Director of HOME in Manchester and director of The Emperor, joined us for this episode of Off Book. We discussed Walter's formative years as "Eurotrash", born in Amsterdam and growing up in Holland, America and Germany, as well as some of his biggest artistic influences. Walter also talks us through his career, training as an actor and later as a director followed by his first steps to making his own work and his relationship with the Young Vic.
British film and theatre director Joe Wright came in this month to discuss his return to the Young Vic with Brecht's Life of Galileo following his 2013 production of Season in the Congo. We discuss Joe's early life spent working at the family's Little Angel Theatre and how that's shaped both his film and theatre work to date, as well as how he accidentally fell into directing period dramas after planning to do gritty social realistic films. We also cover Life of Galileo's exciting creative collaborations and the differences between directing for film and theatre.
Director of stage and film Nadia Latif chats to Off Book presenter Dan de la Motte about growing up between Sudan and London, her early experiences of London theatre, drama school, and why what’s on your bookshelf is so important. Nadia also discusses working with Jackie Sibblies Drury and her experiences of directing the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fairview at the Young Vic. Nadia Latif was the 2018-2020 Young Vic Genesis Fellow and Associate Director, a position which supports someone to develop their craft as a theatre director whilst working closely with the Young Vic’s Artistic Director. Opportunities whilst in post include supporting the theatre’s programming and artistic planning, contributing to the work of the Young Vic’s Directors Program and mentoring Genesis Future Directors Award recipients. The Young Vic presents Off Book, a podcast where we shine a light on the creatives who inspire us, offering a candid insight into their life and careers.
Playwright Luke Barnes chats to Off Book presenter Dan de la Motte about developing authentic stories shaped by real experiences. Luke opens up about his process, through which he has created work with prisoners and people affected by the criminal justice system (The Jumper Factory), asylum seekers (Fable), and NHS service users (Men in Blue), and how tackling politics, society and stories that make an impact are the responsibilities of the writers of today. The Young Vic presents Off Book, a podcast where we shine a light on the creatives who inspire us, offering a candid insight into their life and careers. Please note: this podcast episode contains swearing and the political views held are of the guest.
Taio Lawson's relationship with the Young Vic started when he visited as a school kid and watched someone fry an egg on stage in The Three Musketeers. Nearly 17 years later he's worked on Matthew Xia's production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead and is currently the Jerwood Assistant Director to Joe Wright on his production of Bertolt Brecht's Life of Galileo. From his first theatre company, Metal Mouth to The Brit School and studying Anthropology at university, Taio talks about why Prince and Ultz are some of the most influential people on his career to date, how he approaches working as a director and how that differs to when he's assisting others as well as why he always takes a tooth brush into every rehearsal room. This episode features a short snippet of Joss Ryan's Digital Love for a new feature and if you've got a pretty sweet sound set up you might even catch the bass line from Tom Rowland's music from Life of Galileo going on in the Main House during the recording. Let us know what you think of our quick fire round by sending us a tweet ( and leave us a review on iTunes or some love on Soundcloud.
Genesis Future Directors Award winner, Lucy J Skilbeck talks to us about their journey from the first cabaret show they enjoyed as a child in Yorkshire, up to 2017's production of The Bear The Proposal at the Young Vic. Lucy also discusses the work of their Derbyshire based theatre company Milk Presents, its celebrated production of JOAN and how the gender fierce company of "mischievous collaborators" have brought something new to Chekhov's classic texts.
"The goal is to get to the age of 80 and not be bruised by the experience" JMK Award Winner 2017, former Fat Git and My Name is Rachel Corrie director Josh Roche chatted to us about his first forays into theatre from Tunbridge Wells and Warwick and beyond. Josh also discussed his optimism about millennials, why it's so important to be persistent as a director as well as the importance of political theatre. Enjoy the podcast? Let us know on Twitter, @youngvictheatre and leave us a review on Souncloud, iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
This month, Dan de la Motte was joined in the old YV stationary cupboard by stage icon, Jenna Russell. We hear how Sylvia Young was integral to giving teenage Jenna a start in theatre and a way out of 'normal' schooling, as well as talking about her successes later in life in productions such as Grey Gardens, Into The Woods and of course, Sam Gold's production of Fun Home at the Young Vic.
JMK 2016 Award winner and The Mountaintop director Roy Alexander Weise joined us to talk about how he went from wanting to be a celebrity chef to becoming a celebrated director of Katori Hall's Olivier award-winner. Roy also discusses how he cut his teeth at Oval House, Rose Bruford and the Royal Court as well as the timeliness of sharing The Mountaintop with audiences in 2016.
Director of the upcoming A Midsummer Night's Dream and 2015's Measure for Measure at the Young Vic, Joe Hill-Gibbins came in for a chat at the YV about his career to date. From interviewing Rufus Norris for his dissertation, to running shows on day 3 of rehearsals and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith apparently roaming the streets with a broad sword as part of an improvisation gone awry. We also discuss Measure for Measure's design, iconography and those inflatable sex-dolls.
Artistic Director of Corn Exchange and A Girl is a Half-formed Thing director, Annie Ryan joined us in March 2016 to discuss the incredibly powerful production of Eimear McBride's unflinching book. Annie also discusses how she ended up directing via acting courses at NYU and Trinity College, Dublin as well as how working in commedia has influenced the work she continues to produce.
Having worked back to back on The Jungle and The Inheritance at the Young Vic, Justin Martin, long-time collaborator with Stephen Daldry, spoke to us about his "14 year conversation" with the Oscar nominated director and his career to date making "theatre that's necessary" and getting his work "off the arts pages...and finding yourself part of the national conversation". An Australian native, Justin talks through his first experiences with theatre between his early musicals and trying to break down his family's comic timing. Justin also discusses taking Billy Elliot to the US, developing The Jungle with Stephen Daldry and Joe Robinson and Joe Murphy and the differences between directing for theatre and his work as associate director on Netflix's The Crown and The Inheritance at the Young Vic.
Nancy Medina, Genesis Future Director Award winner and director of Yellowman joins us this week. Nancy discusses directing Dael Orlandersmith's Pulitzer nominated play and their conversations ahead of it coming to the Young Vic, how growing up in Brooklyn influenced Nancy's work and what being a director of colour is like in 2017. We'd also recommend you stick around 'til the very end to catch a little surprise from a special guest.
Natalie Abrahami got her theatre break as the Royal Court Graduate Trainee, before winning the JMK Award at Battersea Arts Centre in 2005. A spell at the Gate theatre followed, and then associate director at the Young Vic. Natalie spoke to us about these experiences, the difference between directing for stage and screen, embedding sustainability into theatre making, as well as her friendship with Juliet Stevenson, and their current production of Wings at the Young Vic.
Stage royalty, Sharon D. Clarke speaks to Off Book about her role as Linda Loman, her journey into Theatre and what it meant to her to win the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Sharon also shares an insight into what it's like rehearsing Blues In the Night and performing Death of a Salesman and the importance of having a family of good people around you. Off Book is a podcast from Young Vic where we shine a light on the creatives that are inspiring us and a candid discussion about their career so far.
Wendell Pierce first visited London over 40 years ago, what does it mean to make his London debut and join the select group who have played Willy Loman in 'the American Hamlet' Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Wendell talks about his first steps into Theatre, navigating through the industry and how political activism is a part of his identity as an artist. Off Book is a podcast from Young Vic where we shine a light on the creatives that are inspiring us and a candid discussion about their career so far.
Journalist Paul Mason pops in to the Young Vic to talk about his play about revolution and the networked generation, Why It's All Kicking Off Everywhere, based on his acclaimed book. We discuss how his upbringing in Greater Manchester, Northern Soul and a degree in music and politics influenced has his career. We also chat about his multidisciplinary work life, previously a journalist at the BBC and later Channel 4 to becoming freelance and working on productions and writing for theatre. Why It's All Kicking Off Everywhere will soon be broadcast on BBC Two as part of Performance Live. Find out more info about the production:
Director of Danai Gurira's The Convert, Ola Ince joins us as the first director to return to our tiny recording studio. We caught up on the very busy two and a half years Ola has had since she was last on Off Book where she spoke about her Genesis show, The Dutchman by Amiri Baraka. Naturally, Dan and Ola talk about the current YV main house show, The Convert based in what is now Zimbabwe in the late 1800s. Ola talks about how Gurira's text explores what it means to indoctrinate and colonise people and discusses how the creative team and cast work with the audience's big reactions to the show. We cover Ola's time spent as Associate Director for Tina the Musical and the development of 2017's Start Swimming with James Fritz and the YV's Taking Part team. Ola also talked to Dan about her recent Royal Court production Poet in Da Corner, a grime musical featuring Debris Stevenson and how they wanted to ensure they represented Grime as an art form, as well as broadly how power is addressed and feeds into to lots of Ola's recent work and the age old saying "the show must go on".
The Brothers Size writer and Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney joined us in Feb 2018 during the revival of the Young Vic's production of his play, The Brothers Size, directed by Bijan Sheibani. Tarell discusses his Brother/Sister trilogy of plays and how he came to write these incredibly powerful shows after originally starting out as an actor and later collaborating with Peter Brook and David Lan and working at the RSC. He also explores what it meant to train as an 'artist' and how you learn to express yourself and find your voice. And of course we also discuss Moonlight and *that* suit at the Oscars and if fame has changed who he works with or how he works. Tarell also discusses why teaching has always been an important part of what he does, starting aged 12 supporting his peers at school to his classes and programs of high school and college students.
Peter Brook's Battlefield visited the Young Vic in February 2016 before continuing its world tour. We spoke to Belgian actress, choreographer, director and saxophonist Carole Karemera. We discussed how the arts are being used in Rwanda as a healing tool within communities, her role in creating Kigali's cultural hub Ishyo Arts Centre in 2007 and how different audiences in different countries have reacted to Battlefield on tour. We also dissect that "magical" silence at the end of Battlefield.
Multi award winning Writer, Actor and Performer Emma Dennis-Edwards talks to Off Book about her new play The American Dream 2.0, a politically charged dystopian play about hope, idealism and humanity. Off Book is a podcast from Young Vic where we shine a light on the creatives that are inspiring us and a candid discussion about their career so far.
Isango Ensemble's Musical Directors, Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis joined us in the studio to talk about A Man of Good Hope and how the 'extraordinary magic piece of theatre' came to be. Pauline and Mandisi also discuss how they first became interested in music, when they joined Isango and how Asad's story is not unique to Asad, but is every refugee's story.
Marie-Hélène Estienne is Peter Brook's long time collaborator, described by The Guardian as the 'powerhouse' behind the celebrated 90 year British director. Speaking to the YV's Imogen Brodie, Marie-Hélène discusses growing up in Paris and building a career with longevity, her astounding 40-year collaboration with Peter Brook and how she has developed her incredible knack for casting. This episode was recorded in February 2016 when Battlefield was at the Young Vic.
Writer, director, actor, musician and YV’s artistic director - Kwame Kwame Kwei-Armah joins Dan in the studio to talk about his return to London after 7 years in the US, and his most recent musical foray into Shakespeare with Twelfth Night. They chat about upcoming production of The Convert written by Danai Gurira and starring her Black Panther co-star Letitia Wright, alongside Kwame’s ongoing digital projects including My England, a response to his perceived changes in living in England since his childhood in Southall. We also talk about the upcoming 2019 Season, with shows including creatives Idris Elba, Marianne Elliot, and Yael Faber, and the incredible acting talents of Sharon D. Clarke, Arinzé Kene and Wendell Pierce.
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Podcast Details

May 9th, 2016
Latest Episode
Jan 14th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
43 minutes

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