We are delighted to release this recorded film of acclaimed theatre director David Lan in conversation with director Carrie Cracknell, to mark the paperback publication of his evocative, fast-paced memoir As if by Chance. Lan will recollect his eighteen years running the Young Vic, working with directors such as Peter Brook, Ivo van Hove, Katie Mitchell and Stephen Daldry, as well as his youth in South Africa, early days at the Royal Court and much more.
David Lan was born in Cape Town. He has lived in London since 1972. His plays have been produced by the National Theatre, the Royal Court, the RSC and the Almeida. He has published an ethnography Guns and Rain: Guerrillas and Spirit Mediums in Zimbabwe. He was writer-in-residence at the Royal Court from 1995 to 1997, and Artistic Director of the Young Vic from 2000 to 2018. In 2018 he received the Laurence Olivier Special Award, the Critics’ Circle Special Award and the RAI’s Marsh Anthropology in the World Award. He is Theatre Associate at BAM in New York.
Carrie Cracknell became Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre London in 2007 at the age of 26. In 2012 she became Associate Director at the Young Vic. She was Associate Director at The Royal Court 2013-14. She is on the board of the Almeida Theatre. Most recently she has directed Seawall/A Life at The Hudson Theatre, Broadway, after transferring from The Public Theatre in New York. She works regularly at the National Theatre where her work includes, Julie starring Vanessa Kirby, The Deep Blue Sea and Medea starring Helen McCrory and Blurred Lines, which she created with Nick Payne. Her productions of Julie, The Deep Blue Sea and Medea have played in cinemas worldwide through NT Live. Her production of A Doll’s House transferred from the Young Vic to the West End and BAM, and was nominated for the Evening Standard Best Director Award. Her first opera, Wozzeck at ENO was nominated for an Olivier. She is currently shooting her first feature film, Persuasion, for Netflix.
Praise for As If by Chance
‘David is the heart and soul of theatre – encouraging, democratic, fantastically open-minded and multicultural. As if by Chance takes us with him on an extraordinary journey.’ Jude Law
‘This book is as David Lan is himself: sincere, passionate, vulnerable, open, serious, loving. A great read for fans of theatre and of humanity.’ Ivo van Hove
‘He is the Chagall of theatre, hurtling over his colourful life and the world, his shirt flying, dreaming on behalf of humanity, effortlessly offering courage and guidance to any young producer to go with the unknowable. It’s a remarkable achievement.’ Fiona Shaw
‘David Lan’s book is exceptional. It is rich, warm and sparkling. It is as though we are sitting together and sharing with him the experiences that led him from such a powerful childhood to be a writer and then to take the helm of the Young Vic. True to his roots, he is open to all the artists, all the countries, all the adventures that cross his life.’ Peter Brook‘Heartfelt, inspirational and evocative.’ Observer
‘Lan’s writing glows with his humanity and skill, with his literal worldliness, as he patches together into one narrative all the many lives he has led . . . arranged in delightful disorder and written with the playwright’s flair for dialogue. Memories are not narrated so much as displayed through reconstructed conversation, as if Ivy Compton-Burnett had written a memoir: everything is shown, nothing is told. Lan’s ear for different modes of speech is brilliant. To read the book is to swim in someone else’s memory, unsure what is real, and what has been damaged or retinted by the passage of time, and by the memoirist’s ability to dramatise . . . Lan is linking memory with theatre, and theatre with life.’ Guardian
‘A zigzagging meditation on the peculiar knottiness of theatre and the processes by which it is made … Switching between dreamy impressionism and a fierce specificity, it’s a searching account of a varied life.’ TLS
‘It is a classic, deeply enjoyable and honest account of how ground-breaking international hits are brokered and how theatre in England gave a gay, South African, Jewish exile a home-base.’ Paul Taylor, Independent