Today I had the pleasure of spending a full 6 hours with the inspirational Ian Rickson. This was my fourth and final session with the former Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre and I must say I was sad to say goodbye. One might expect the reputation Rickson has earned to have had some effect on the man's ego, yet his calming presence and gentle voice put me at ease immediately; he is neither patronising or self-absorbed, nor did I get the impression he was killing time to get the work day over and paid for.
As a former teacher I believe that this is the most positive influence on his work as a director. He clearly has an understanding of people, he is an excellent listener and extremely patient. Here is where the key to his success lies; he is a people person and undeniably has a passion for what he does. Furthermore, his investment in people obviously informs his character work which is detailed, precise and well thought-through.
The workshop itself was a balanced melange of script work and textual exercises (surrounding a new play by Joe Penhall) injected with ball games which saw us all laugh and relax around each other. Throughout, Rickson maintained a level of respect and admiration without demanding either. It is refreshing to meet such a big name in the theatre industry without feeling at all intimidated by their career history. In fact, this pressure was non-existent, rather I felt that this was how all workshops should be; fun and thoroughly enjoyable.
Rickson has a way of meeting everyone in the room's needs. I was impressed that he remembered all of our names from last year and took the time to listen and get to know each of us individually in a one to one tutorial.
His advice to me seemed to be rooted in a real belief that I could actually achieve my dream of becoming a theatre critic. What a wonderful feeling to be complimented by Ian Rickson! My time with him today and the advice he gave me has reaffirmed my self-belief and boosted my confidence in what I do. If I can perform well in an Ian Rickson workshop and be pointedly thanked for my contribution, why could I not convince any editor of my capabilities? Hard work and passion is all I need, he said. I have both, I just need to demonstrate them to the right people now.