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Interview with Yasmin Sherif, Trainee Director on What Are They Like?


Laura Marsden talks to Yasmin Sherif  about being part of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Youth Theatre and gives an insight into being a Trainee Director on the upcoming show What Are The Like?

Yasmin has been a member of the Youth Theatre since it started in 2012. The Youth Theatre encourages the young people to perform and undertake non-performance roles such as directing or writing. What Are They Like? by Lucinda Coxon is being performed as part of National Theatre Connections festival.

You’ve performed in previous Youth Theatre shows, what made you want to assist on directing for this show?
I’ve always taken a great interest in directing. The first time I realised I should explore working on the opposite side of the stage was when Nikolai Foster, came in to talk to us about his time directing Sherlock Holmes and A Beautiful Thing. I took a great interest into what he was saying about how differently a piece of theatre can be interpreted, depending on the work from the director. I had a meeting with Gemma Woffinden, Youth Theatre Director, about opportunities for me to assist in directing. After I read the script for What Are They Like?, I knew straight away I wanted to take part in bringing this play to life.

Tell us about the play? 
This story is very much based on the contrast between older and younger generations, especially when thinking about what is and isn’t considered socially ‘acceptable’. There are a number of different stories taking place throughout the play, but which, convey the same message. This play really focused on how one situation can affect different people in different ways.


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What Are They Like? Rehearsals. Photography by Hannah Carter-Brown

Can you tell us what a rehearsal session consists of?
A rehearsal tends to start off with warming ourselves up and getting everyone really energised. We do a lot of physical, and mental, exercises to make sure everyone is focused. We then start to block scenes we are focusing on that day. The cast explores ways of portraying their characters by looking at the thoughts and feelings their character has at that moment in the play – particularly taking into consideration past and future events that may / may have occurred. We frequently take into account current situations that we, as normal everyday people, go through. Whether that be, politically, socially or personally and adopt that thinking to the scene we’re working on.

Is directing something you want to experience more in the future?
Yes, I’m still deciding on whether I want to apply for a degree in acting or directing, but I do thoroughly enjoy both. I’m having such a fun time working on this production and I just can’t wait to see how all the hard work from the cast and crew comes together in the run up to the show.

What do you enjoy about the youth theatre?
The thing I love the most is that everyone has come together purely just to do what they love the most. Everyone is able to become involved in all different aspects of working in the theatre and, because we all share the same interest, the camaraderie between everyone is just so lovely. The youth theatre has developed in the years that I have been a member, it has become more creative and everyone is so passionate about the work we all come together to produce.

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