Annie Rigby, resident director

 5 October 2012

Annie Rigby is resident director at Northern Stage. After studying English, she spent time temping in an arts centre finance department before getting her big break.

"I always tell people starting out as directors to get to know their local theatre.


I’m from a village near Gateshead, and now live in Newcastle.

What job do you do?

I'm the resident director, at the Northern Stage theatre in Newcastle.

What previous jobs in theatre have you done?

When I was a student, I did an unpaid production placement at Northern Stage as an assistant to the director during my summer holidays.

After graduating I worked as a freelance drama worker, running a range of projects and workshops for schools, young people and community groups. I did this for several companies, including Northern Stage, Live Theatre, and the Lawnmowers Independent Theatre Company.

"I always tell people starting out as directors to get to know their local theatre."

I did a few office jobs at arts organisations to make ends meet when I started out as a freelancer.

These included working in the finance department of the Sage arts centre in Gateshead, and stuffing envelopes for an arts newsletter.

As my freelance work in theatre increased, I gradually decreased the other part-time work I was doing. Eventually I reached the point where I knew I needed more ‘headspace’ to focus on my theatre work, and could just about afford to live off it.

What qualifications do you have?

I have an English degree. 

What do you do at work?

Overall, my job focuses on supporting the development of new theatrical work, whether it's with professionals or with young people. The nature of the work changes depending on the projects I’m working on. 

I might be in rehearsals, working with actors and production staff on the development of a new show. Or I might be visiting a school to run a workshop with a group of young people.

I also spend time in the office, planning future projects and answering emails.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I get to work with all kinds of people – actors, technicians, marketing staff, and the front-of-house team. In my participation work, I also get to work with lots of different age groups, which I find really exciting and challenging.

And the worst thing about the job?

There’s not much I dislike. It can be hard work, and you need a lot of stamina to keep going sometimes.

I’m not financially-motivated, which is good because the money’s not great.

How do I get into theatre?

My advice for directing would be:

  1. Play to your own strengths
    People come into directing from lots of different backgrounds. Think about what your particular strengths are, and don’t spend too much time worrying about what you’re not.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it
    There's a presumption that if you're a director, you need to know everything about everything, and that’s not true.
  3. Develop your people skills
    You do need to be good at working with people, to fully utilise their knowledge and expertise. 
  4. Get into your local drama scene
    I always tell people starting out as directors to get to know their local theatre, and find out about the opportunities there. Attend workshops, go to see shows, and do voluntary placements. All these things help you to build the relationships with a company which might lead to future work.


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

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