Emma Jordan

Well, we’ve only gone and done it again. Yes, yet another incredible woman joining us at handsome and pretty today.

This week we asked director Emma Jordan our seven questions, and here’s what she had to say …

(photos are from productions she has directed / produced)

Emma is Prime Cut’s Executive Director. Her directing credits for the company include: Blackbird by David Harrower, the 2011 & 2012 productions of Owen McCafferty’s Shoot The Crow, Fiona Evans‘ Scarborough, Marina Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow, Denis Kelly’s After The End and a staged reading of Fermin Cabal’s Tejas Verdes (Old Museum Arts Centre).

Emma’s acting credits include work with numerous theatre companies including: Charabanc, Tinderbox, The Lyric Theatre, Replay, Dubblejoint and Young at Art.

Her producing credits for Prime Cut include Three Tall Women (Assistant Director), The Coronation Voyage, Shopping and Fucking, American Buffalo, Macbeth, The Chance, After Darwin, The Mercy Seat, Ashes To Ashes, A Number, Cold Comfort, The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek, Scenes From The Big Picture, Owen McCafferty’s version of Antigone and most recently Vincent River by Philip Ridley.

Emma is about to direct I Am My Own Wife in a co-production with the MAC in September 2012.

How and where are you today?

I am great, if a bit washed out! I am sitting in Berlin airport waiting for my flight back to Dublin. I have been in Berlin on a research trip for Prime Cut’s next production I Am My Own Wife which is about the extraordinary life of Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, a transvestite who managed to survive both the Nazi and Communist regime in eastern Berlin. We were visiting her Grunderzeit Museum – fascinating stuff.

How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And was this the destination you had in mind?

I haven’t reached a destination and I don’t think any artist really does – it’s a journey that has no end – always learning, hopefully always growing and certainly always questioning both the form within which I work, and my role within it. I never had a plan – I started out as an actor, I have worked as a audience development manager, a creative producer, and I have been directing for six years . My career has been dictated by my love for theatre, but I really sense a distillation of purpose in my work since I started directing. Nothing makes me more professionally happy than to be in a rehearsal room. I regret not starting to direct earlier in my theatre career – I was thirty five when I directed my first show – though I did bring experience to the table which helped – I know how it feels to be an actor I understand the process and that’s important. I think it’s useful in my job as Executive Director to have had experience in all aspects of theatre – the danger is spreading yourself too thin.

Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?

Yes I have to have a really clean sparkling house! Actually I mostly enjoy cleaning and I find it quite a good space to work out my thoughts – an active meditation of sorts!

I always try to be prepared before rehearsals in terms of having researched the play thoroughly, but I also like to hold back on imposing too many definitive decisions before I start working with actors. I love the collaborative nature of theatre, I love the mysterious unfolding of the work during the rehearsal process and if the script is good enough, then the answers reveal themselves in time. I do my best thinking in the liminal space between sleep and wakefulness – if something is bothering me in a days work, it always comes to me late at night / early in the morning. I have learnt to trust this now so I don’t get too anxious if I can’t immediately work out why something isn’t working.

(Black Milk)

How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?

Both my parents are prolific readers and I was always encouraged to read as a child. I think this was the foundation stone for me in developing an understanding of the special place that Art plays in our experience of living. I was born in 1970 and went to school on the Falls Road in Belfast during a very turbulent time. I have no doubt that this also was very influential in developing an understanding that Art provides a mechanism for articulating human experience in a stimulating and provocative way. This is going to sound really wanky, but its a personal truth – I was very effected by my disaffection from the catholic church – a devout child who in my mid to late teens felt that I had been filled with propaganda and lies. There was such a loss at the centre of this movement away from my catholic upbringing, and theatre was a salve – the collectivity in both the creation and sharing of theatre is a very powerful force.

What does beauty mean to you?

That’s a difficult question. I immediately think of people – the people that I love – they are beauty to me – my children, husband, family, friends, beloved colleagues. Then there are aesthetics, and beauty comes in many guises. Beckett’s work is magnificently beautiful to me in its sparse poetry, but then again Botticelli’s The Birth Of Venus in all its lusciousness was breathtaking. When I was in Berlin I visited The Jewish Museum and Daniel Libeskind’s Holocaust Tower and Memory Void. In their expression of horror are beautiful works of art . Perhaps if I needed to hone this thought, truth is beauty.

If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?

I don’t know – I cant remember – I did want to be a poet at one stage – either that or an actor.


What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?

Best advice from a well know playwright and friend Owen McCafferty – Don’t be a C**t – profane but good advice.

Prime Cut Productions are now the resident theatre company at the very exciting new creative venue in Belfast – The Mac. Make sure to check out their website for all new productions and happenings.

Thank you so very much Emma for these answers. As you said – truth is beauty, and these answers are very beautiful indeed!

You are welcomed with open arms into the Handsome and Pretty family, there is a seat waiting with your name on it.

handsome and pretty



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