How to be a theatre director? Annie Ryan: Artistic Director Corn Exchange

Posted 5 months ago in More

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We have the answers to some of your questions as we ask a selection of insiders to offer their advice, tips and insights gleaned from their experiences in their chosen creative field. Here’s Annie Ryan of Corn Exchange on How To Be A Theatre Director. 


Have a feel of the zeitgeist – what is that your audience might need to feel?

Have a feel of your inner creative juices – what is the flavour of the work you want to make?

Find a play that you love, or a novel to adapt, or an idea you might write yourself cook up with a partner (you do not have to be marry them, but you do need the rights to material, unless the writer is long dead).

Surround yourself with excellent artists you love and admire.

Really know the play or adaptation or idea. Read everything about it.

Create an atmosphere of openness and hold your team with patience and encourage their wildness to flourish.

Remember that everything you’re doing is for the audience. Treat it like a special surprise party you’re creating for them. Make good medicine.

Have a degree in English from Trinity/UCD, a Masters would be great. Take workshops in acting to have a connection with how actors work. Engage in a physical practice like yoga or t’ai chi, to help ground you and your company. Have a good head for marketing and business. Build a library of plays, novels, films, art books. See everything. Try not to become an alcoholic, even though it might the best way to network.

After you’ve been rejected by the Arts Council after a few years (or twenty), and realise there’s no way at all to make a living doing this, you might consider moving to Berlin or London to become a bartender or a yoga teacher. It’s best if you come from a rich family and are white and, still sadly, male. If you have to marry someone, it would be great if they are independently wealthy. Good luck!

Annie Ryan

Artistic Director Corn Exchange

The Fall of the Second Republic runs in the Abbey Theatre from February 24 to March 14. Read our interview with Annie about that here.

Pay attention and gift your knowledge too! We’ll run How Two, a second instalment of this guide, later in the year so let us know what you’d like to learn about by mailing


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