We are delighted to have had Jessica come to DSL and talk to our students. Our MFA in Professional Acting with Independent Production is designed to develop and launch the careers of multi-disciplinary actors and performance makers. As well as sharing details of her varied career in both theatre and film, Jessica answered questions about writing great female characters, giving minor characters their own arc and how becoming a writer has changed the way she directs. She also talked passionately about her love and respect for actors.
As a playwright, Jessica’s plays include Blue Stockings (Shakespeare’s Globe), which won her an Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright nomination and is now on the GCSE drama syllabus, Nell Gwynn, which transferred from the Globe to the West End and won the Olivier for Best New Comedy. Other plays include Thomas Tallis, The Playhouse Apprentice and adaptations of Far from the Madding Crowd, Sense and Sensibility, The Secret Garden, The Jungle Book and Stig of the Dump.
In film, Jessica's debut feature as writer-director was the acclaimed magic-realism period drama, Summerland, starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She also wrote Horrible Histories - The Movie!, and made the viral hit Leading Lady Parts, starring Emilia Clarke, Florence Pugh, Wunmi Mosaku and Tom Hiddleston, amongst others, which she made in support of the Time's Up movement, with whom she is a regular campaigner.
Other upcoming films include a new adaptation of Swan Lake for Universal Studios, starring Felicity Jones, Persuasion for Fox Searchlight, Longbourn for Studio Canal, Nell Gwynn for Working Title and a TV series of Blue Stockings for Monumental Television.
Before writing, Jessica spent ten years as a theatre director, running Red Handed Theatre Company, with whom she won the Peter Brook Empty Space Award, and worked regularly at the Globe, the Watermill, Salisbury Playhouse and internationally.
Jessica is also an Associate Artist with International NGO Youth Bridge Global, who use theatre as a development tool in war torn countries. As such she’s directed community productions of The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest and Much Ado about Nothing in the Balkans and the Marshall Islands (North Pacific).
She is the author of a best-selling series of drama games books, published by Nick Hern.
You can read more about Jessica on her website.