As you may have heard, we’re hosting Headlong’s acclaimed production of Jitney next month, and we cannot wait.
Coming to Worthing from the Old Vic, Jitney is a ground-breaking modern classic that explores the fragile bond between eight men as they live, love, and work in a racially-segregated, post-Vietnam America.
Excitingly for all of us here in Worthing, Jitney’s director Tinuke Craig is on the list of famous alumni from our very own University of Sussex. Ahead of her return to the county, we caught up with her lecturer from her university days, Senior Lecturer in Drama and English Dr William McEvoy.
How does it feel to see such success from one of your previous students at the University of Sussex?
I feel really proud of all the students I have taught at Sussex because we have such a community and form such a close bond on the Drama degrees. Tinu has worked really hard ever since she left Sussex and I’m over the moon at her success.
How do you think her studies at the university have helped to shape the development of her career?
Tinu had achieved a lot even before coming to Sussex, including being a young writer at the Royal Court. Our degree gives students critical skills, a broad range of theatre and performance work to study, and supports them as practitioners. Tinu recently gave a workshop at the university on Shakespeare, and I hope some of her critical acumen was honed during her studies here.
What was Tinuke like to teach?!
She was a highly intelligent, attentive, gracious student, critically probing but always generous. Her peers adored her.
What is it like to know Tinuke is coming back to Sussex as director of such an acclaimed production?
I have followed Tinu’s career since graduation and she has worked at so many great venues and organisations, but this production, which has just been to the Old Vic, is a real high point. I think she’s going to be one of the country’s leading directors. I love the focus in her work on Black playwrights and the way she celebrates Blackness in her career.
What is the significance of this?
She is an inspiration to our students and shows how great a career you can build with talent, energy and hard work.
Tell us a bit about Tinu – can you see her personality reflected in her work, for example?
She is incredibly generous, self-deprecating, kind and thoughtful, a really sensitive, perceptive, glowing intellect combined with such warmth of character. As you can tell, I am a fan. She’s directed classics, contemporary theatre, work from all over the globe: what a CV!
Is there anything else you’d like to add or tell us about?
I have this great memory of Tinu knitting in what seemed like a bored, distracted way in one of our first-year theory seminars and I was about to pull her up for her inattentiveness when she suddenly chimed in with a brilliant observation totally responsive to the intricate debate around her. It was a learning moment for me as a relatively new lecturer about how people listen and learn in different ways.