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Sarah Jane Murray

Sarah Jane Murray

I’m currently the Deputy Head of New Work at the NT, I recently covered the Head of New Work's maternity leave. I’ve been working at the NT since March 2011, and am in my third role since joining! I arrived at the NT on another maternity cover contract in the Planning department, and was responsible for contracting all designers working on the rep, as well as helping coordinate UK and international touring productions. A particularly interesting part of that role involved project managing a competition for emerging stage designers. I really enjoyed the opportunity to engage directly with artists, and helping to foster working relationships for them with stage directors, who they might design for in the future.

That experience of working closely with artists was something I wanted to try to hold on to, and so when the Deputy Head post came up in the New Work Department, in The Studio (the company’s research and development centre located on The Cut), I went for it. The Studio is an amazing artist development centre which combines the diversity and excellence of the NT, whilst staying very plugged into wider theatre and performance practice taking place across the UK and internationally.

Prior to the NT, I worked at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. The Traverse runs a brilliant Edinburgh Festival programme of UK and international artists, and my experiences there gave me an excellent insight into festival planning and programme curation. As well as that exciting festival work, I also gained very solid administrative producing experience in contracting, budgeting and timetabling – all of which are skills that I still use every day.

Working at the NT is wonderful, and the opportunity to help develop and create work is so exciting. But I’m really glad for my prior experience of theatre-making on a smaller scale, as it helps me to understand the journey that artists go on and how I can help enable them to make brilliant work throughout their careers. That earlier experience gave me a number of skills that I think have been particularly useful for me in my current role at the NT: namely, an understanding of working in buildings, an awareness of producing work outside of London, and experience of programming work of different forms including dance, opera and multimedia. And hands-down the best advice I’ve ever received was ‘go out and see lots of work,’ something that I still hold on to today. Being artistically engaged helps me to refine my taste, introduces me to fantastic artists, and encourages me to be really open-minded about different types of performance. So I’m going to claim that advice as my own!