By day Sarah Stewart is a busy course administrator for Kingston University but in the evening she steps into the director’s chair at her own theatre company. Born out of her love of story-telling, Whitespace, which was formed earlier this year, is already generating interest from key players in the arts world.
Whitespace launched with a chilling gothic horror play, The Yellow Wallpaper, based on an original short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It explores how the repulsive pattern and colour of the yellow wallpaper in the nursery of an old house affects its occupants. The play, which previewed at The Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton, London this summer, has also just finished a successful run, playing to full houses, at the Edinburgh Festival where it caught the attention of veteran Scottish artist Richard Demarco who has offered to support Whitespace. With a little help from Demarco and her own industry contacts, Sarah now hopes to be able to secure further opportunities for the production at theatres across London and possibly in Europe.
As a course administrator for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sarah provides the vital link between staff and students in a diverse role that can involve anything from arranging timetables or module choices to collating marks from assessments. With Kingston’s strong reputation in the arts, Sarah hopes that working at the university will allow her to draw on the array of resources available and involve staff and students with productions, which in turn will benefit the university. "Being at Kingston means that there is a wealth of talent on my doorstep just waiting to be harnessed," said the 26-year-old.
Sarah’s love of theatre and the arts began at school where she studied drama and acted in school productions. She went on to pursue a degree in drama and theatre studies at St Mary’s College, in Twickenham, and it was here she realised that her creative talents lay in the backstage and production side of theatre. Following her instincts, she went on to do an MA in theatre directing and design at Royal Holloway, University of London, in Egham, which gave her invaluable practical experience and a chance to build up good industry contacts.
Already experienced in assisting others with their productions, Sarah felt it was time to take the logical next step in her career. "Whitespace has given me the creative opportunity to work on my own projects and productions and a chance to find my niche," she said. Although Whitespace is a theatre company, Sarah plans to expand and encompass a wider range of products. "As the name suggests, Whitespace is a blank canvas that can be drawn on – an outlet for my own ideas, as well as collaborations with others, which will also showcase talents in painting and photography," she said.
Sarah’s colleagues and friends at Kingston University are full of admiration for how she manages to fit in all her activities and are supportive of her theatre work, often even coming along to her productions. "My motto is that any day is a waste unless you are living life to the full," Sarah said.