Librarian Theatre Voices

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Roberta Zuric

Theatre Director / Facilitator / Feminist

Roberta Zuric is a freelance theatre director. Her previous work includes collaborations with the National Theatre, SoHo Playhouse in New York, and Pleasance Theatre. She is an associate artist of Incognito Theatre, Young Pleasance Theatre and National Youth Theatre. Alongside directing, Roberta is an experienced facilitator and drama teacher.

Rehearsals with Librarian Theatre. Photo: Alex Brenner 2017

Roberta: Creatively, my main focus is on physical and visual storytelling. I love using lighting and sound as stimuli when creating my shows. I’m attracted to stories that are political (in the widest sense of the word) and aim to ask the audience to examine social norms and human behaviour - but then again, I'd hope all theatre aims to do that.

Dance theatre and music have always been crucial influences for me, and several contemporary companies have shaped my work including Pina Bausch, Hofesh Shechter and Crystal Pite. I often also work from visual stimulus: art, cinema, photography, installations can spark ideas and inspire a whole creative process. So every project begins with a visual mood board and a good Spotify playlist.

Kelly: What are your current projects?

Roberta: I created a show with Incognito called “Tobacco Road” for last summer’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it’s now coming to the Vault Festival in February.

I am Artistic Director of a children’s theatre company called Crow’s Nest and we’re in the process of getting our first show - and my passion project - "Alma" on the road. So there are exciting things on the horizon - gotta keep those balls up in the air!

Kelly: How do you balance working in a difficult industry with the cost of living?

Roberta: It’s tough in our profession because our work is more than just a job, it becomes a lifestyle, and you have to sacrifice a lot to keep going. There are lots of financial ups and downs, and it can be tough at times. I’m lucky to also be a qualified teacher so I work a lot with young people - facilitating workshops, supply teaching and tutoring. It's important to find something you enjoy to keep you going alongside your creative career, otherwise it can be really difficult to survive.

Having never had any financial support to fall back on, money has always felt like a barrier for me. So when it comes to choosing between a day-job that pays vs. an unpaid directing gig, paying for the roof over my head inevitably becomes a priority. People often ask creatives to work for free or for “exposure”, but you can’t live off exposure for long.

"The goal is to ensure we’re raising future generations with the appropriate coping mechanisms and adjusting the world to our evolving emotional languages."

The difficult nature of the industry leads a lot of people to struggle with anxiety and/or poor mental health. It’s so brilliant and important that people are starting to feel safer in sharing their experiences with each other more and more, and that's what we aim to do with theatre. The goal is to ensure we’re raising future generations with the appropriate coping mechanisms and adjusting the world to our evolving emotional languages. And to slowly push our society to be more preventative, instead of just reactionary.

The most supportive networks for creatives currently seem to be online, such as private Facebook groups (e.g. Bossy - a network of over 20,000 female creatives). I think it’s really important to reach out to different groups, collectives, theatre companies, creating your own support network and building your own community. Search until you meet the right folk. The tribe is out there, and people love to help.

Rehearsals with Librarian Theatre. Photo: Alex Brenner 2017

Kelly: Do you feel the industry is set up to help people starting out?

Roberta: Yes, to those starting out it’s excellent - if you know where to look. It is admittedly still quite London-centric but regional opportunities are increasing, there's lots going on in Bristol and Manchester at the moment. There are some incredible schemes, workshops and bursaries that support new artists. Many of them are focused on young artists (which can be a challenge when you reach 25) but that’s improving too. When you attempt to graduate to the next level, there seems to be less mentoring, less support, and fewer opportunities. It can sometimes feel impossible to leave the “emerging artist” stage.

Kelly: What do you hope for in the future?

Roberta: I hope for common sense and kindness to become the norm.

Check out more from Roberta at:

Twitter: @RobertaZuric

#theatre #arts #touring #creative #blogpost #director #interview

Librarian Theatre Patron: Alan Bennett

©Librarian Theatre 2019. All Rights Reserved

All photographs copyright of Alex Brenner

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