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Motivational Monday: Young Vic Theatre Executive Director

Our latest Motivational Monday is with alumna Despina Tsatsas (class of 2000) who was recently appointed as the Executive Director of the Young Vic theatre, working alongside Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and producing theatre for some of the most engaged and diverse audiences in the UK.

Despina’s love of performance started at South Hampstead where she acted in numerous productions such as Journey’s End, The Tempest, Harlequinade and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Her passion for theatre grew at university where she became President of UCL’s Drama Society and produced many plays while studying English Literature.

Prior to working at the Young Vic, Despina worked at numerous theatre production companies including the Ambassador Theatre Group, the Almeida Theatre, the West End general management company Mark Rubenstein Ltd, Punchdrunk International and Frantic Assembly, whose texts are frequently studied by South Hampstead A Level students.  Despina also sits on the boards of two charities: a women’s theatre company called Clean Break, which works with women offenders and those at risk of offending, and a medical-educational charity called The Laura Case Trust.

When she looks back at her time at South Hampstead, Despina says: “School taught me to be my own author – literally and figuratively. In Drama we were encouraged to write our own plays and sketches (as well as perform in canonical works) which I believe is indicative of South Hampstead’s encouragement of the girls to have an editorial voice.” She describes her education at South Hampstead as culturally rich, within an inclusive, feminist environment. “I was always encouraged to become erudite and outspoken, and to know my own value.”

Despina credits South Hampstead as giving her the confidence to pursue an unconventional career in theatre. “My teachers were approachable and had abundant passion; I’m sure this rubbed off on me. My role also requires practicality… I had such practical, opinionated female role models at school.”

Despina’s advice to South Hampstead students today is to make decisions based on individuality. “Pursue what you love. The decisions you make now do not have to be those that stick with you forever. Time pressure can feel profound, but formative choices can be made later on.” Above all, she says: “Make sure you surround yourself with people who contribute positively to life.”

Despina was interviewed by Upper Sixth student, Rosie.

South Hampstead has recently introduced Sixth Form Drama Scholarships, prestigious awards for girls who a show particular aptitude and talent for Drama, either as performers or designers. For more information, please contact 

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