My Way: Indhu Rubasingham, theatre director

'I made props and swept the stage ... I loved it '

Indhu Rubasingham is a theatre director whose productions include The Ramayana at the National Theatre and Yellowman at Hampstead Theatre. She is directing Disconnect by Anupama Chandrasekhar at the Royal Court theatre Upstairs from 17 Feburary to 20 March.

What did you want to be as a child?

A pop star. I wanted to play the synthesiser and sing very well.

What did you realistically think you'd end up doing?

I thought I'd be a lawyer.

How did you first get into theatre?

At 16 I got a work placement through school. I hadn't a clue what I wanted to do but I knew I didn't want to go to a lawyer's office so, as a joke, I put down TV, film or theatre. I knew that, being in Nottingham, there wouldn't be anything, so I was really surprised when I got a placement at the Nottingham Playhouse. I made props, buttered sandwiches and swept the stage and I loved it.

Why?

It was the magic of it. I would come out of the theatre at 5pm and watch everyone leave their offices in suits and they looked so robotic, whereas in the theatre things felt more alive.

You took a degree in drama at Hull University. Was it worth it?

Absolutely. It allowed me to discover directing, which I'd never thought about. I wasn't literate in drama, I'd never gone to plays with my parents or anything like that, but as a student I directed my first play, which was selected for a festival and won an award. That was the moment I thought, oh, I've found my niche, this is what I want to do.

How did you work your way up?

I moved to London to do a postgraduate course at drama school. I left after a term when I got a bursary from the Arts Council to be assistant director at the Theatre Royal at Stratford East. I sound determined now, but I had no plan then. Getting the bursary was my big break. I worked on panto and became assistant to Mike Leigh. It was an incredible training. They offered me my first production and eventually I stopped worrying so much about my next gig and more about what projects I wanted to do.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Some days I do, some days I don't.

What's the best decision you've made?

Being bullied into directing The Ramayana at Birmingham Rep.

What are your audition tips?

Be prepared, come having read the script, have an understanding and an opinion about the play. Be yourself, don't try to be something you're not or try too hard because that makes people uncomfortable. I want to recruit someone I would like to work with for four weeks.

Who are your heroes?

My parents – they gave me the confidence and security to follow an unstable and unpredictable career.

How do I get to be where you are?

The industry has really changed and it's become harder and harder with fewer bursaries and public funding. So, write letters, ask for meetings, badger people - but don't make a nuisance of yourself.

What's the best perk of your job?

The travel. I do a lot of international work through the Royal Court Theatre and instead of travelling as a tourist I get the opportunity to investigate other cultures, like Cuba.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

SharePoint Administrator/Developer (C#, VB.NET, VISUAL STUDIO 2

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...

European HR Director, London

£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...

European Senior HR Manager, London

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation is...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal