A chat with The Nightingale's Associate Director – Cherilyn Woo
The Little Company will be restaging The Nightingale, a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about a Chinese Emperor and his relationship with a nightingale. The 2018 restaging will be directed by Cherilyn Woo, who was SRT’s Resident Assistant Director (2014 – 2015). We catch up with Cherilyn to find out how she’s dealing with the transition from an Assistant Director to an Associate Director for a musical!
What is it like for you to come from being a Resident Assistant Director at SRT to being an Associate Director for The Nightingale?
Cherilyn: It feels really wonderful! The Residency program at SRT was such a fulfilling experience. On my first official day as a resident, I got to sit in on the Mandarin read of The Nightingale. I remember feeling extremely grateful and excited to be in a room full of talented creatives and performers who were making this story come alive with just a reading. I couldn’t wait to see it on stage with a theatre full of children. The feelings I have before going full force into rehearsals are pretty similar. I am very excited and thrilled to embark on being the associate director for The Nightingale. The production team, creative team and cast are all really talented and amazing, and we can’t wait to bring the show alive again. I’ve directed my own productions before, but returning to The Nightingale, a production that holds a lot of first experiences as a resident certainly feels very nostalgic and special. Directing and Theatre was one of those things I just chanced upon and ended up falling in love with it, making it a huge part of my life. Being able to tell stories as a career is really one of the best jobs in the world, especially when it’s such a lovely story like The Nightingale.
How are you preparing for your stint as the Associate Director? Could you share a bit of the process with us?
Cherilyn: I’ve been watching and reading the archives of the production. A lot of my process is focused on being really familiar with the show and consolidating what this story communicates. This includes paying attention to the details and intention of every line and blocking movement. It’s a relatively short rehearsal time so I have to ensure that I do my own preparations to use the rehearsal time efficiently and productively.
Besides tapping onto the archives of the production, I’ve been reading up on the original fairy-tale, birds, ancient china history palace traditions. I like learning fun facts about the context and historical influences of the story, it keeps the material interesting for me and really helps me as a director for inspiration. I’ve also been in contact with the original director, Kate Golledge. I think as an associate director working on a show someone has done before, it’s important to have an open conversation about ideas and comments. She remains a valued member of the team, even as she’s halfway across the world. The production team has been working really hard to get everything ready for rehearsals as well. We’ve had a couple of meetings so far pre-production wise to check in with the different departments and ironing out any pre-production concerns.
Can you give three reasons why parents should bring their kids to come for The Nightingale?
Cherilyn: Firstly, it’s a wonderful tale about friendship, trust and love. Secondly, it is a classic story that is thrilling, heart-warming and entertaining. And finally, it might be the same set and the same script, but it’s a brand new cast, and no two shows are ever exactly the same… so join us for a whole new experience!
The Nightingale runs from 7 March 2018 at KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT.