Helena Jackson is an award-winning theatre, musical and opera director working across Germany and England. After university she spent a year training on the King’s Head Theatre Trainee Resident Director scheme as well as being announced a winner of the University Women In the Arts course. She is the Artistic Director of Sleepless Theatre Company and is currently also the Resident Director at the repertory company of Theatre Krefeld-Moenchengladach, part of the leadership team of a 95-strong company of actors, dancers and singers in various plays, musicals and operas as well as spearheading their under-12s outreach programme.
My career has two very distinctive strands. I grew up with two musician parents, and as such has a close attachment to theatre that has any sort of rhythm or beat. As such, much of my career has been based around pieces with a musical connection; whether new writing, musicals or opera. I’m particularly passionate about fighting against the sexist, racist, classist and ableist history of opera and create modern pieces that take responsibility for the messages they send out to the world, as well as actively working to reach new audiences. As such, I’m really interested in connecting with any creatives identifying as BAME, womxn or D/deaf, disabled or neurodiverse that are interested in dismantling operatic tropes and giving the industry a kick up the butt.
As the Artistic Director of Sleepless Theatre Company, I’m also committed to challenging theatrical treatment and representation of creatives and performers that identify as D/deaf, disabled or neuro-diverse. The pieces Sleepless produces vary, and are not about disability per se, but access and representation is at the very core of the company’s ethics - whether in the casting, the creative team or pushing to open up their work to audiences that wouldn’t normally identify as ‘theatre-going’. Our work currently includes the award-nominated Nine Foot Nine (Royal Court, Bunker Theatre, Assembly Edinburgh Fringe, HOME Manchester, Bristol Tobacco Factories, New Diorama Theatre), Baby Box and Masha and The Firebird in development.
As part of my training and through the University Women in the Arts Scheme, I’ve worked with and observed directors such as Katie Mitchell, David Pountney, Rachel Bagshawe and Vicky Featherstone. I’ve directed in venues such as the Bush, the Royal Court, Theatre Royal Glasgow, Assembly and Underbelly (Edinburgh Fringe), Soho Theatre, the Bunker Theatre and the King’s Head Theatre. I’m really interested in creating connections with (and just chatting to) creatives from all areas of the theatre industry that are working to challenge the access problems inherent in theatrical culture – and I like coffee. Hit me up sometime?