Anna Jordan, artistic director

 9 October 2012

Having originally trained as an actor, Anna Jordan is now artistic director of the Without A Paddle theatre company.

"Rehearsals are always hard work, but offer the most rewarding experience.


I was brought up in Brentford, West London.

What job do you do?

I am the artistic director of Without a Paddle Theatre. I'm also a playwright, director, producer and acting tutor. I coach acting privately, and I teach at Identity Drama School.

I trained as an actor, and might even go back to it at some point. 

I could just say 'I'm a theatre-maker' – it would save a lot of time! But I'm not particularly keen on that term.

What previous jobs in theatre have you done?

My first professional theatre job after leaving the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) was acting in a play called 'Home' with Offstage Theatre Company. It was a fabulous site-specific piece set in a tower block which was about to be demolished. 

"Rehearsals are always hard work, but offer the most rewarding experience."

I played a street warden – I had to bring the audience in and lead them around the disused flat, addressing them directly as the other actors played scenes out. It was great, and it inspired me to write my very first play. 

I've written, directed and produced plays for a number of theatres including the Old Red Lion, the Camden People’s Theatre and Waterloo East Theatre. I've written lots of short plays.

What qualifications do you have?

I did the three year acting course at LAMDA. I also took a writer’s course at the Royal Court Theatre

I have A levels in dance, performing arts and English.

What do you do at work?

If I’m writing and it’s going well, I’ll be sitting at home, merrily tap-tapping away. If I’m writing and it’s going badly, I’ll be at home with my head in my hands, trying to steer myself away from Facebook, or drowning myself in coffee!

If I'm teaching, then I’ll be working one-on-one or in groups, and the work is usually text-based. 

Directing is my favourite. I love auditions, and getting to meet lots of new actors. The first readthrough of a play is also exciting.

Rehearsals are always hard work, but offer the most rewarding, fun experience. 

I also still work part-time in an admin job, so you might also find me doing that. 

What’s the best thing about your job?

Creating something which makes people think about the world in a different way. 

And the worst thing about the job?

I get far too down on myself and put myself under stupid amounts of pressure. Sometimes this interferes with the rest of my life. 

Also, there hasn’t been a lot of money in what I'm doing so far. The majority of the work I've done has been low-paid –  although this is slowly changing, fingers crossed.

How do I get into theatre?

These would be my tips:

  1. Be patient
    It’s the old chestnut: if at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again. And again. And again. And again. 
  2. Cultivate other interests in your life
    Theatre won't always be fruitful. 
  3. Enjoy what you do
    Try not to think about everything as a stepping stone to something bigger or better. 
  4. Play well with others
    Opportunities won't present themselves simply because you're talented. People will want to work with you if you're honest, helpful, open, enthusiastic, professional, warm and a nice person. 
  5. Communicate reliably
    Always answer your emails. 
  6. Go to the theatre
    It sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don't put the effort in with this one. Be an active part of your community. Be supportive. See other people's work, and if you think it's good, make sure you tell them. 


Anna is part of our theatre experts panel. Ask Anna a question about working in theatre.

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