Interview with Natasha Rickman, director of Little Women at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Tell us a bit about you and your career so far?  

This is my third time working at Storyhouse, so I feel very lucky. I first worked here as associate director on A Little Night Music, in 2018. After that I directed Antigone for Storyhouse’s main stage in autumn 2021 after it was delayed due to the pandemic. Antigone gave me the chance to learn from an amazing team and make a production integrated with British Sign Language, and creatively captioned. It also gave me the chance to work with Hayley, Rhianne and the incredible Storyhouse Young Company actors.  

The cast of Little Women in rehearsals


Having originally trained as an actor, I made the move into directing in 2015, working as an assistant director for companies like The Globe and the RSC while staging my own work in smaller theatres and on the Fringe. Around this time I also co-founded, Women@RADA, an initiative to promote gender equality onstage through discussions, mentoring and events, alongside a series of 100 rehearsed readings of classics and new work. Plays and concepts platformed through this series went on to be programmed for theatres across the UK and abroad, and we also staged two new writing showcases in the West End as well as launching the first ever graduate drama school showcase.  

Later in my career I directed shows for theatres and drama schools, as well as creating work for site-specific and non-traditional spaces. During the pandemic all my work went online, and I directed shows with casts of up to thirteen actors, all performing live from their own homes and edited together live by our ‘zoom wizard’ show operators, using technology usually used for live sports broadcasts.  

Since 2017 I have been an artistic associate at Jermyn Street theatre, where I have also cast shows. I work as a freelance teacher in various drama schools, and am a visiting freelance text and acting tutor for RADA.  


What are the challenges/opportunities of directing a piece of theatre for a space like Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre? 

I have been watching the summer season shows at Grosvenor Park for several years, and the audience and atmosphere are incredible. This is an amazing opportunity to share the story of Little Women in such a celebratory and interactive setting. Of course, like all open air theatre the challenges are the weather and the odd stray squirrel – but they only add to the magic, and the sense that no two shows will ever be exactly alike. I remember working on a production of Hamlet in the open air when the rain started just as Hamlet died – moments like that make my hairs stand on end, and you never forget them.  

The cast of Little Women in rehearsals


Our version of Little Women is set in 1914 Chester, how has this change of setting and time informed your decision making as the director? 

Anne’s beautiful adaptation offers us so much to enhance the gorgeous story of the March family. World War One in Chester brings the story and the characters closer to our own experience and memory. I hope audiences will feel the mirror of this setting – just like us, the characters are navigating enforced separation from loved ones, conflict, and a life-shifting world event, but still managing to celebrate family, falling in love and finding your voice. And although it is set in World War One, we are telling it for a 2022 audience.  

The cast of Little Women in rehearsals


How important is collaboration to you – how much freedom do you give to your actors to participate in the making of the play? 

Collaboration is so important in a rehearsal room – the cast are so invested in their characters, that they know and love them better than anyone. My job is to facilitate and cultivate their amazing insight, with the help of a wonderful creative team. I’ve been surrounded by the incredible Zoe (MD), Annie-Lunnette (movement director),  Anne (writer), Jess (theatre designer) and many other brilliant creatives – so it’s impossible not to feel inspired!