Directing

Directing

I have loved theatre and opera since I was a child, and started directing as soon as I had the chance, working on classic, new, and filmed operas, Shakespeare, new plays, drag fusion shows, sketch, improv, and standup comedy, and cabarets written by victims of the Holocaust.

 

I’ve had the pleasure of working on productions at the Bloomsbury Theatre, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Grimeborn, as well as training at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. My work has been nominated for an Offie Award and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

Robin Horgan (Macbeth, The Perfect Opera

I used to struggle to define my 'style', and I still believe that every piece deserves its own approach. But a few things are starting to become common:

1. Start with the world. By picking out the themes of a show, what it says, and identifying what its roles need to make sense - a code of honour, strict social rules, for magic to be real - you can build a world for performers and collaborators to thrive in and be creative with.

2. A grand scale: roles tend to be broad archetypes, not detailed studies in psychology. Especially in opera, that approach allows larger-than-human characters who can magnify different aspects of humanity. But, being honest, this attitude is more rooted in my starting out in comedy.

"A very serious attempt to conquer the comic opera genre." 

- The Wee Review,

The Perfect Opera

"Punchy, effective staging" 

- Opera Magazine,

The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken

"Fresh... unlocked the mysteries"

- The Guardian,

The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken

3. Use of space: I really like productions that use space to help them build the world. Sometimes this is ensuring the production moves from setpiece to setpiece, though more usually it's looking at a venue and thinking 'how can we bring the audience into this world?'

 

4. It has to be live. It's really easy to film stuff nowadays, and usually cheaper - so one of my core rules is that anything onstage has to be a truly live experience. That might be due to interactivity, use of space, or any number of other things. But it should feel 'live', and be impossible or near-impossible to film in a way to convey the experience of being there.
 

But the subtext to this question is always ‘do you do, y’know, those weird productions?’

To which I have to answer ‘sometimes’. This is because of strand 5:

5. It has to do something for the audience.

I always want the work to work for my audience today, not the composer’s centuries ago. Sometimes that does mean modernising and reworking a well-known piece, or doing abstract, conceptual work that will move them, even if they don’t understand why. But it can also mean doing a period production on a tight budget, or a slapstick comedy about a camel.

If I'm using a strange language for the production, I'll be sure to teach it to the audience in the first few scenes. But it will always be in a language that they can understand, or learn quickly. Because if only I can understand it, why would I go to all the effort of sharing a piece of work with them?

 

Every show's different, so my work’s always going to be different. Take a look at the productions below, and see what you think.

“A privilege to behold”

- Savage Magazine,

Theatre In The Theresienstadt Ghetto

Directing C.V. 2021

“an original, atmospheric, immersive role-play opera with real promise.” (Four stars)

- The Stage

Come Bargain With Uncanny Things

2022

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Festival of Early Jewish Cinema

A festival exploring early Jewish cinematography, in collaboration with academics from UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies. Read More >>

2021

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Macbeth (2021)

A cyberpunk production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, surrounding the audience with a world of lurking menace, growing corruption, and dreadful loss. Read More >>

2020

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We Sing, I Sang (2020)

A new improvised opera about collectives and individuality, drawing on Noh theatre, science fiction, and game-based theatre at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival. Read More >>

2019

We Sing, I Sang (2019)

A new improvised opera about collectives and individuality, drawing on Noh theatre, science fiction, and game-based theatre. Performed at the Omnibus Theatre. Read More >>

Don Jo!

A new way of approaching Mozart's classic - a cover version made with the Arcola Queer Collective. Nominated for the 2019 Offie Awards. Read More >>

Man and God

A new musical for UCL Culture about the Jewish musician-scientists behind the invention of Kodachrome  - bringing together Gershwin, Einstein, and Hitler. Read More >>

2018

The Perfect Opera (2018)

The first outing of this hiphop foxtrot operatic sketch comedy show - hailed as a "perfect fringe hour" by workshop audiences. Read More >>

The Left Fang

A vampire opera webseries, featuring a resistance movement fighting vampires across London's streets. Part of Virtually Opera: Series 2. Read More >>

2017

Schiller: The Operas

A semi-staged concert-lecture as part of The Faction's Schiller Festival, bringing together all the different operas based on Schiller's works. Read More >>

A Speaks

A clown play about asexuality, presented at the Camden People Theatre's Hotbed Festival. "Great and inviting. Also very playful and fun." - Audience feedback Read More >>

Gazing In, Gazing Out

A semi-staged concert with fellow students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, exploring pan-European ties after Brexit. Read More >>

2016

The Common Crown

A  rearrangement of Shakespeare's Histories to focus on the commoners, whether soldiers, peasants, or rebels, performed at a busking pitch on the Southbank. Read More >>

2015

The Fairy Queen

A reinvention of Purcell's opera, inspired by Peter Sellars' approach to The Indian Queen, interpolating arias and songs from his other operas. Read More >>

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Theatre in the

Theresienstadt Ghetto

A set of cabarets written by inmates of the Theresienstadt Ghetto during World War Two, recreated in collaboration with  academics from the University of York and University College London. Read More >>

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Come Bargain With Uncanny Things

An interactive, immersive opera in which the audience tried to save their local area through rituals of bargaining with a supernatural creature. Read More >>

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Macbeth (Postponed)

An immersive cyberpunk production of Shakespeare's tale of the uncanny, strange bargains, and virtue and evil, working with the York Shakespeare Project.  Read More >>

Antony and Cleopatra

The antepenultimate play in the York Shakespeare Project's mission to perform all of Shakespeare's plays in twenty years. Read More >>

The Perfect Opera (2019)

Love! Death! Macbeth! And a pantomime camel! With everything you want shoved into this hiphop foxtrot operatic sketch comedy opera at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. " a very serious attempt to conquer the comic opera genre." - The Wee Review Read More >>

The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken (2019)

A return to this rare Kurt Weill opera with University College London academics. "Punchy, entertaining staging" - Opera Magazine Read More >>

A War Game

A semi-improvised show based around a new cycle of poems on the evolving history of war, the order determined through live combat. Read More >>

Virtually Opera: Series 2

Continuing the experiments of Virtually Opera Series 1, Series 2 started to place opera in 'film native' contexts like vlogs and news broadcasts. Read More >>

Empty

A new play by Anne-Sophie Marie, exploring issues around eating disorders and dieting communities. Including a durian scene which I will remember for some time. Read More >>

Virtually Opera, Series 1

Virtually Opera's first attempt at creating cinematically-filmed opera, turning six arias into six short movies. "Fantastic and unusual" - Artist feedback. Read More >>

Lieder, Leaders, and Lovers

A semi-staged liederabend with students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama's opera school, showing the reasons different cultures give for singing. Read More >>

The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken (2016)

A rare presentation of Kurt Weill's comic opera, presented with University College London academics. "One of the most creative and effective opera productions I've ever seen." - Audience feedback. Read More >>

At the Break of Dawn

A new play that toured through Germany and the UK, nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Telling the tale of three revolutionaries on the eve of the great event. Read More >>

Student Comedy 2012-2015

Included more for nostalgia, completeness and honesty than anything else - my first forays into directing. Read More >>