Skip to main content

Interview with Jen Tan, director of Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat


Jen Tan, director

Tell us a bit about yourself and the work you’ve done previously?

I’m originally from Cheshire and moved back three years ago after spending over 20 years in London. I have worked as an actor, director, dramaturg, associate artist and assistant director at theatres and theatre companies including Manchester International Festival, Royal Exchange Theatre, Improbable, New Earth Theatre and Tamasha.


Why did you want to work with Storyhouse Young Company (SYC)?

As a teenager I was in Chester Gateway Youth Theatre (CGYT) so when the opportunity arose to work with SYC, I jumped at it. My time at CGYT was so formative and I felt like it would be a chance to pay that experience forward. In 1997, whilst I was part of that Youth Theatre, Mark Ravenhill’s seminal play Shopping and F**king came to Chester Gateway. It was one of the first contemporary plays I’d seen and really left a lasting impression on me. So it feels poetic to have the opportunity to direct another Ravenhill play in Chester with young people.


What do you enjoy most about working with young people?

It’s always such a privilege to get to work with young actors at the start of their career – you never know where they’ll end up! I love their energy, dynamic and the freshness of their ideas.


Shoot / Get Treasure / Repeat is a cycle of plays exploring the profound impact of war on contemporary society. What are the challenges and opportunities of working with a series of texts rather than a single play?

This play is such a gift for this type of project. The company will have the opportunity to experiment with different modes of storytelling and the play is at moments incredibly intimate and by turn hugely epic.

It’s such a vast work – the cycle comprises 16 plays and our production will contain just four of them. It was important to me to curate an evening of theatre which is both satisfying for an audience and showcases our young company. You can tell me if I’ve managed it!


How do you work with the young actors to develop their characters within the stories?

I’ll be encouraging them to be led by the text – finding the clues the writer has left for them and weaving that in with research they’ll do as well as using their own imaginations. We’ll work collaboratively as an ensemble, drawing on the 12 weeks of training they’ve had in the run up to our rehearsals.


The plays deal with some difficult and thought-provoking themes. How do you hope the audience will feel after watching the show?

As with all my work I hope that an audience is moved in some way by the end of the performance. This play is challenging, but – don’t worry – there are moments of lightness in it! I hope it is a catalyst for conversations and encourages us to consider our position in the world differently.


Book tickets for Storyhouse Young Company’s (SYC) performance of Shoot/Get Treaure/Repeat here.