Theatre director inspires younger pupils in ‘relatable’ talk about her career triumphs and challenges

Theatre director inspires younger pupils in ‘relatable’ talk about her career triumphs and challenges

Young theatre director and writer Neetu Singh’s story drew rapt attention from Lower School boys when she visited as part of the QE Futures programme.

Still aged only 24, Neetu founded Haldi, a collective for South Asian artists, while an English Literature undergraduate at Oxford and is now studying towards a Master’s in Creative Writing at Cambridge.

Her most recent work was as Assistant Director of The Cherry Orchard, directing the Bush Company’s 14–17 Young Company at the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden. The production of Chekhov’s masterpiece, which wowed the critics, finished its successful run on Saturday.

Assistant Head (Pupil Destinations) James Kane described her talk, given in a special assembly to Years 8 and 10 in the Main School Hall, as a “real highlight” of the term’s Lower School QE Futures activities. “Being from a south Asian heritage, she was able to relate to many of our students here at QE.

“Neetu spoke eloquently about the difficulties in constantly having to find work as a creative, saying that although there are many benefits, it is very stressful, particularly since she has financial responsibilities at home. Our boys really enjoyed seeing an alternative creative career prospect being executed well by someone who is young and relatable, and we will see how this impacts them in years to come when they graduate and enter the world of work.”

During her talk, she referenced working with actors Riz Ahmed and Adeel Akhtar, names many of the boys recognised from the satirical comedy film, Four Lions. Adeel played Lopakhin, one of the leading characters, in The Cherry Orchard.

She described the change from seeing these actors on screen as a child to then graduating and learning how to have the confidence to reach out to them and see if she could work with them.

Neetu’s CV as a writer and director features: being an alumna of the Squint Playwriting Award and Young Vic’s Fresh Direction Programme; assistant directing credits including Kabul Goes Pop with Brixton House, Noor with Kali Theatre and Run, Rebel with Pilot Theatre; and directing credits including Tako at the Camden People’s Theatre, Coconut at the Edinburgh Fringe, and Brown Girl Noise at the Camden Fringe.

She came to the School as part of QE Futures – a programme launched this year which aims to guide every pupil towards competitive degree-level university or apprenticeship courses and then to help them thrive both at university and beyond.

Other events organised this term by QE Futures Co-ordinator Nathan Lawson (pictured above with Neetu) included an assembly talk to Year 10 from Evangeline Addai-Gyimah, a lawyer-turned-broadcaster, about working in television. Evangeline, a Law graduate, joined Sky last year and works in sports broadcasting.

She also supported the School in February by speaking to boys at the Year 11 Careers Convention (pictured).