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News > Old Girls' News > Old Girls' Lecture 2023

Old Girls' Lecture 2023

Alumna, Theatre and Television Director, Sarah Esdaile was guest speaker at this year's lecture
Sarah (second from right) was joined by former classmates and former teacher, Anne Margetson
Sarah (second from right) was joined by former classmates and former teacher, Anne Margetson

Sarah left Francis Holland in 1988 for Goldsmith's College, where she read English and Drama, before completing the first Director's Course at the National Theatre Studio in 1995. She has since gone on to direct Abigail's Party for the Theatre Royal, Bath, has assisted at Shakespeare’s Globe and the RSC and, more recently, directed episodes of Call the Midwife EastEnders, and The Chelsea Detective.

Although not her first visit to Francis Holland in recent years, Sarah felt ‘pretty overwhelmed’ as she addressed her audience, many of whom were old friends and teachers she hadn’t seen since her school days. Especially moving was her reacquaintance with former English and Drama Teacher, Patricia Metham. 
 
Speaking with warmth and humour, Sarah described how Francis Holland encouraged tenacity, risk and resilience, qualities that she honed and solidified during her school years which have stood her in immensely good stead to forge a career in the competitive and cut-throat creative industries, culminating in a desire to ‘squeeze as much as possible from the cloth of life.’ Sarah concluded,  “I think – without question – being in an all-girls environment engendered a “can do/can achieve anything” attitude which has been invaluable to me over the years.”  

Moreover, it was it was during Sarah’s years at FHS that she first fell in love with the idea of telling stories for a living. Two particular occasions had a profound effect on her: the school play competition, affording Sarah her first real attempt at directing, and a school trip to see a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Young Vic. “The seeds of that passion were sown in this very building, and I am also grateful for that and for the privilege of working out - by time I was 18, what I wanted to do with my life”, she remarked.
 
Sarah spoke candidly about her career, eruditely discussing how pushing out of her comfort zone and making bold and courageous decisions had gifted her the most rewarding life experiences. She generated laughter from her audience by telling stories from her days as director on the set of EastEnders and spoke of her prescient decision to move from directing theatre to television, just before the emergence of Covid 19. Sarah revealed the struggles she has faced as a female director, and, before taking questions from her audience, her future aspirations as a film director and novelist (preferably while living by the sea!). 
 
Our heartfelt thanks go to Sarah for engaging our alumni, parent, and pupil communities with such an inspirational talk.

 

Old Girls' Lecture with Sarah Esdaile

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