“Our show encapsulates the joy, sadness and beauty of Noor Inayat Khan
– the WWII hero Britain never taught us about”
Assistant Director Neetu Singh shares her experience working on Noor
1. Describe your role
I have two main responsibilities: creative and administrative. I watch and assist in rehearsals, contributing to the director’s creative decisions and supporting her vision when building scenes, with script changes, staging and blocking.
I also communicate with the writer, actors, and stage management team, doing research and answering or resolving any logical or historical questions we have as we rehearse. I also provide the director Poonam Brah with a second eye during rehearsals if she is focusing on one element in particular, offering creative observations and opinions.
2. What has been the most enjoyable aspect?
The subject of the play is really important to me as a British woman and an Indian woman. What’s been most enjoyable is knowing that all of our hard work is dedicated to telling Noor’s story.
3. And the most challenging?
The play is beautiful and evolving in a way I’m really proud of. Yet the historical context of the play is really dark so knowing that this story is real in rehearsals everyday has been the most challenging part.
4. What will you take away from this experience?
Ultimately empowerment. We are now in an industry where stories like the one that Azma has written get commissioned and celebrated; there is space for South Asian women writers, directors and our stories. Seeing Poonam direct and lead has been empowering and encouraging, and Poonam and Azma’s partnership has been inspiring.
5. What advice would you give for people who want to get into directing?
Watch theatre and film and do research on what plays, creatives, companies, theatres inspire you. Then try to understand why you do or do not enjoy what you see. It will help you develop your craft and style and also inform the decisions you make throughout your career, especially when you’re starting out. For example, I was certain that Kali theatre is somewhere I wanted to work because I knew of their work and legacy. Knowing this helped me understand what kind of directors and writers I want to learn from and what kind of stories I enjoy working on.
6. What do you know now that you wish you had known before you started?
That every production is different and every rehearsal room is different, so it’s ok to feel like your purpose or responsibilities differ – even though the job title might be the same. And if you’re ever confused just ask, there’s no point in making mistakes if you can instead ask for guidance or help.
Also, having a job between jobs in theatre is normal and important, especially at the start, because it can often be irregular employment so ensuring you have financial stability between jobs is just as important as following your passion.
7. Describe the show in three words
Important. Harrowing. Beautiful.