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Emily Louizou

5th April 2023

Interview: Amy Bell

Emily Louizou chats to us about directing the new play 'The Woman Who Turned into a Tree'

Louizou tells us how different this show is from the other shows she's directed before and what we can expect.

Growing up, was theatre something you were always passionate about?

I wrote my first play when I was 12 years old, and attempted to direct it with my friends acting in it. So yes, I guess, theatre-making was something that I was always interested in. I spent my teen years wanting to become a dancer and an actor. And it was at 17, when I realised what a director does and how cool this ‘job’ is. And I haven’t stopped directing plays since then! 

You founded ‘Collide’, in 2015, and it has come such a long way since, what has the journey been like since you first started out and what made you want to take on something like this?

It has been an exciting journey for sure. With lots of ups and downs! The great thing is that what started as a university whim while I was a 3rd year on my undergrad back in 2015, has grown into a company of artists I admire and love working with. Collide is a big family of artists - there is a core, but mostly I bring on board new performers and artists depending on the project. In all the 6 projects I’ve directed and produced with Collide, I’m proud to have worked with more than 50 artists coming from lots of different disciplines and backgrounds. Our core remains very female and international (you’d always find many languages and ethnicities in our teams!), which remains my priority. 

You are directing this new venture ‘The Women Who Turned into a Tree’, how is this different from what you have directed before?

Well, it is weirdly both different and similar to my previous projects. It is very similar in the sense that it is a production that blends text, original music and movement. And the visual language of the piece - with its dream-like structure and feel - is very close to my aesthetic. But at the same time, the venture is new because it is the first one-woman-show I’ve directed. Having said that, and even though the project did start as a one-woman-show, it has now developed into a two-women-show, as we’ve made the creative decision to cast 2 performers in the role of ‘Daphne’ and to visually depict the fragmentation of self that the character experiences. 

What can you tell us about the show, and why did you decide to agree to direct it? 

I was immediately hooked as soon as I was sent the script back in 2021. I found the character of Daphne so engaging: complex, funny, pathetic, obsessive, annoying, adorable. I love it when female characters can be more than just stereotypes! And of course the fact that the play is a re-working of the ancient Greek myth was a big part of why I loved the project so much. I am Greek myself, and I grew up with these stories and myths. Lisa Langseth’s modern retelling of the myth is so incisive and witty. It totally captures how in today’s context women are often made to ‘transform’ in versions of themselves they don’t even like, just to be accepted or admired or seen. 

You are a women theatre-led director, in the context of female empowerment, how does it make you feel, knowing your hard work is being appreciated and recognised?

I have a sense of fulfilment of course, and joy. I am actively looking to support emerging female creatives when putting together the team for a project. I remember, as a young director in the industry or an assistant director in a rehearsal room, I would often feel like my voice was not ‘loud’ enough. So I am trying to not only empower the people I work with, but to make sure their voice is heard and respected in all parts of the process. 

What are you most looking forward to in April, knowing so many people will be watching the show that you directed?

I cannot wait to share this piece with an audience, and to engage in exciting conversations with them afterwards. There are so many aspects of the character of Daphne that I find too complex to explore in the course of one play, so I am looking forward to seeing what audiences make of her and how can her story trigger thoughts or ideas about how a lot of us have potentially become too obsessed with opinions and things that don’t really matter.

How are you gearing up for the production, and do you have any tips for aspiring directors? 

Well, the thing I do every evening after rehearsals is watch an episode of Love & Anarchy on Netflix! It’s a show written and directed by our writer - Lisa Langseth - and interestingly the protagonist of the series is an older version of Daphne from The Woman Who Turned Into A Tree. So it’s perfect for our character work, but also so fun and exciting to watch. So I totally recommend it. And, indeed, the tip I’d give to aspiring directors is to always find moments to switch everything off and to look for inspiration outside the theatre. 

The Woman Who Turned Into A Tree is running from the 6th April to the 22nd April 2023. 

Grab your tickets here.

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