Sita Thomas: a person is stood centre with their arms crossed and smiling at camera

What inspires Sita Thomas?

| Tue 29 Jan 2019

Sita Thomas has only just started her residency in our Creation Space, and has already filled our walls with beautiful, inspiring images. We were curious to find out more, so we had a chat and she answered our questions!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I studied English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Warwick and went on to complete my PhD where I examined issues of cultural diversity in the performance of Shakespeare in the UK. I grew up in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and first moved to London to do a Masters at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Movement Directing and Teaching. I’ve been living here since, working in many different aspects of theatre, television and film. For example, I’m a children’s television presenter on Channel 5’s milkshake! which is a dream job and lots of early morning fun!

I’ve worked as a short-form arts documentary filmmaker for the National Theatre and created multiple series of films about Movement Direction and Shakespeare that can be found on the NT YouTube channel. I’ve contributed work as Movement Director/Choreographer for plays at Watford Palace and New Wimbledon Theatre. I’m an Associate Director for Kali theatre who present groundbreaking new theatre by female writers of South Asian descent. Most recently, I’ve been assisting directors including Jude Kelly (Southbank Centre) and Sam Pritchard (Royal Court), learning as much as I can about the craft and applying it to the development of my own directorial practice.

How would you describe the work that you create?

The work I create has a strong connection to both people and place. The first show I directed was a promenade site-specific piece called The Rose and the Bulbul for Kadam Asian Dance & Music. It told the story of a young boy fleeing a war-torn country, who arrived in the UK and met a British South-Asian girl who was seeking friendship. It featured live music and dance, with actors, dancers, musicians and a community chorus who led audiences around beautiful gardens at Stockwood Park, Horniman and Geffrye Museums, and Lauderdale House. It was inspired by Jo Cox who said "We have far more in common than that which divides us".

I’ve recently been developing a verbatim musical piece with National Theatre Wales called Queer Tales that shares stories of LGBT+ communities in Pembrokeshire. My work thus far has incorporated stylised physicality, music and song, and has shared stories of people connected to specific, often marginalised, communities.

What will you be working on during your residency at artsdepot?

During my residency I’ll be working on a touring children’s show accompanied by storytelling workshops. The piece will tell South Asian stories – such as the story of Rama and Sita - and incorporate Indian music and dance. I’m aiming for the show and workshops to be representative of diverse communities, to inspire children to learn about cultures that are different from their own, and to entertain and engage families in the creative arts.

What elements of the project will you be developing while you’re here?

I’ll be using my time at the artsdepot to research different stories, to develop a script, to work on choreography – I’ll be doing lots of Bollywood dancing – and to devise workshop content, from making animal masks to creating ocean waves!

What’s the most useful thing to have with you in the rehearsal space?

I love to fill blank white rehearsal room walls with photographs, images from research that inspire creativity!

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