The Stage newspaper recently caught up with Little Shop director Maria Aberg, and quick-fired some Q&As about her career and influences.
What was your first non-theatre job?
Working for my dad’s business, which made shop fittings for stores such as H&M. My sister, my brother and I used to spend the summer welding bits of Perspex together in the factory. It was cool.
What was your first professional theatre job?
Literary assistant at the Royal Court.
What’s your next job?
A big project for the Royal Shakespeare Company that will culminate in 2020. I’m not allowed to talk about it yet because it hasn’t been announced.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Dominic Cooke came in to talk to the directors on the course at the National Theatre, and he said: “Don’t worry about the career, worry about the work.” That is the best piece of advice ever – so I actually had the advice I really needed.
Who or what was your biggest influence?
Pina Bausch. I went to see The Rite of Spring and Cafe Muller when they came to Malmo when I was about 15, and I remember thinking: “This is just something else.” It’s stayed with me a long time. There’s something about the strength and vulnerability of the women in those pieces that’s quite astonishing.
What’s your best advice for auditions?
I figured out a while back that the people who nail it in the room are not necessarily the people you should cast. You need to see a glimpse of someone working in the same direction you want to move in. It doesn’t have to be finished that’s what rehearsals are for. So for an actor, I’d say, have some genuine thoughts about the work, and engage with the big ideas.
If you hadn’t been a director, what would you have been?
I would have been a florist – which is interesting, given the show I’m doing. I’ve always fancied that.
Do you have any theatrical superstitions or rituals?