Below are some of the press reviews of the plays that I’ve directed over the years.
Present Location Unknown
Present Location Uncertain is a wonderful community project which has worked to restore and digitise 88 letters that were sent between Harold Priestly and his wife Eva while he fought on the Western front. One of the aims of the project, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is also to share Harold and Eva’s story with the present generation of Nottingham folk. I was lucky enough to see one of two performances based on those letters at The Vine Community Centre in Hyson Green.
Performed under a beautiful stained glass window in the church hall on Bobbers Mill Road, Present Location Uncertain is community theatre at its best and as it should be: inclusive, organic and honest.
The set was well thought out and brilliantly put together, there were sandbags strewn around the floor and tea-stained A3 letters pegged out on a washing line which divided the stage from the rest of the church hall. Barbed wire was brought onto the stage at points by the cast to divide the space into two halves: Nottingham and the trenches.
With the youngest member at eight and the oldest in her sixties, the cast was very diverse. They worked seamlessly together, producing physical theatre sequences which helped to move the story along. It was during one of these sequences that we learn how Eva and Harold met, fell in love, got married and had a child in the space of what I would guess at being around five minutes.
read more on their website
By Georgianna Scurfield – LeftLion
“ Overall a fantastic cast who had a superb performance. Their energy was infectious with the audience unable to hide their delight and appreciation” Read More
By Stacey Preston – West Bridgford Wire
“ The play really had the audience captivated in fear or in grief. The play was gripping, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable” Read More
By Grace Neder – Platform Online
“Dracula on stage is a dramatic challenge of production and direction. Sarah Stephenson and her team have delivered brilliantly.” Read More
By Kristian Lander -itsmuchmore.com
“Beautifully choreographed physical theatre is deployed to heighten mood and atmosphere. Stephenson draws out some remarkable performances from her young actors”
By Alan Geary – Nottingham Post
“It is being performed by Nottingham Playhouse’s Advanced Youth Theatre Company this week, but before any doubts about a performance by not just amateurs but by ‘kids’ creep in, wait – this is an outstanding production.” Read More
“Directed by Sarah Stephenson, this Nottingham Playhouse Advanced Youth Production, set firmly in the seventies, is ample demonstration that the play still has plenty to say, and the power to say it.” Read More
By Alan Geary
“This production is directed with great theatrical imagination by Sarah Stephenson and the style of playing for the cast of twelve produces some thrilling theatre and emotional tension in the ensemble. Always engaged, the cast are placed along the back of the space in a jury box and use their bodies and voices to support or disturb the story as it unfolds. At times quite eerie the ensemble also create vocal atmospheres through a build up of sounds/words and stamping of feet. There is a clever device of showing bags of evidence to the jury as the play unfolds.” Read More
By Phil Lowe
″Enron is a bold but wise choice on the part of Stephenson. It offers plenty of scope for what she’s become noted for: well-choreographed and unselfish, often erotic, ensemble work done by a huge cast – here there are twenty actors – and brilliantly executed physical theatre.” Read More
By Alan Geary
″The evening has all the physical theatre we associate with Sarah Stevenson’s direction. And there’s the trademark ensemble playing and tableaux, here from a wonderful cast of nineteen. ” Read More
By Alan Geary
″Altogether, NPYT’s Woyzeck was impressive, depressive and sickening; all the things a good tragic play should be. Amateur theatre is sadly renowned for its hit, and (more often than not) miss quality, however I am pleased to say that although performed by an adolescent cast, amateur becomes a dirty word when referring to Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre’s production of Woyzeck. They came, they chewed, they swallowed″ Read More
By Holly Boyden
“This is another bold and inventive production from director Sarah Stephenson. Not content with the high reputation they’ve acquired in recent years, Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre reach new areas of excellence.” Read more
Printed by Nottingham Post
Stephenson’s vision for this performance was clear: to turn this pseudo-‘Romeo and Juliet’ fable of star-crossed lovers into something to which modern teenagers could relate. The cast achieved this through individual characterization, each finding and subtly developing a character, bringing real personality to Lorca’s archetypal stock characters.” Read More
Sarah’s great with making sure we get what we want from the Company. At the start of the year and after a production has taken place she asks us what we want to learn and gain from these workshops. We tell her we want the typical audition technique, Shakespeare, accent tuition, physical theatre training, but we also outline we want a session on how to start up a theatre company, playwriting sessions, period and modern dance etc. It’s really great! Read More
By Kaiti Soultana
Nottingham Playhouse endorsement
“Over a period of 8 years her work has developed and she has proven herself able to deliver creative youth projects of considerable scale to a high standards. Her work has been well received by her peers and by the participants who have valued her guidance and flair”
By Stephanie Sirr