Here, we talk to Serge Rashidi-Zakuani – who’s currently directing The Waiting Room at London’s Lost Theatre – about directing, tackling first-night nerves and how to make your dreams come true.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Serge Rashidi – Zakuani, I go by the stage name SRZ in my creative endeavors and I make up one third of the Stepping Stonez founders. I’m a creative introvert by nature, which means I’m quite comfortable being and working alone. I’m the writer and director of The Waiting Room.
Aside from my creative pursuits, I’m a passionate TV & movies viewer, an avid reader (meaning I read everything I can get my hands on1), and a strong believer in Christ.
Tell us a bit about Stepping Stonez…
Stepping Stonez in a nut shell is a creative company with a personal development aim, meaning we exist to develop the artists and creative’s we work with to become their best while pursuing their dreams and aspirations. We are not a drama group so people can’t join but we do hold open auditions for all our productions and we do accept unsolicited scripts which we sometimes take on and produce for others.
What is the inspiration behind The Waiting Room?
The inspiration for this play came while I was serving as a director in another play Stepping Stonez put on called Family Secrets. I loved working on that play but I hated the amount of scene changes and blackouts the play had, so I started wondering what it would look and feel like if I created a one location play where everything takes place in one room. What if a group of strangers were forced to be in one room with each other? What would their conversations be like? Well, hospital waiting rooms are places where strangers meet, all are there for more or less the same reason, then the idea just developed further from there.
What’s the plot in a nutshell?
The Waiting Room is about six strangers who meet in a hospital waiting room only to find out that their lives have crossed paths before and each person has played a part in bringing the other to the waiting room. Only problem is, there are no doctors or nurses in sight and all the doors are now locked…
Were you approached by the theatre or did they approach you?
We have a great working relationship with the Lost Theatre: this will be our third production hosted there so as soon as the idea was formed, even before I had written the script, I approached them and told them what I wanted to do. They were on board and we drafted up a contract there and then.
What have been the best/worst parts about the process?
The best parts about the process is reaching way beyond our current capacity and being stretched, its meant we have experienced a lot of growth and learned a lot of valuable things in the process.
The worst part about the process is the exact same thing: reaching beyond our capacity because it’s meant stepping out of our comfort zone which of course is uncomfortable.
Are you looking forward to the opening night? Is there anything you’re nervous about?
I never look forward to the opening night, there’s too much to deal with on the opening night to look forward to it, I focus on my cast and crew and ensure that the show starts well. I look forward to the third or fourth night because by then everybody gets into a rhythm, people know where they should be and what they should be doing which leaves me to enjoy the show for the very first time. As for nerves, they come with every performance on every night – I’ve learnt to appreciate the feeling because to me it’s a reminder that I’m alive and living my dreams.
What advice would you give to people who’d like to see their plays on stage?
Do it yourself. If nobody seems to be jumping at the chance to help you realize your dreams, you go ahead and make it happen anyway, the rest will fall in line in due time but by then you will be too busy to care who is or isn’t on your side.
On a more practical note, find a theatre willing to work with you, make sure you believe in your script or the script you’re working with and then plan, plan, plan because things don’t always go as you first planned them so keep adjusting and readjusting as the situation changes.
The Waiting Room is on at The Lost Theatre, 208 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2JU until 16th September.