“If you want to put someone to the test, make them do a stint as a script editor for a
foreign language film,” laughs Anna Kemp, who moved to Spain after graduating from Oxford.
“Oxford gave me a love of English and theatre, and a rigorous attitude to the structure of a script. But what Oxford also gives you is a belief in yourself, the confidence to tackle any task. I proved I could do this job, even in Spanish.” Living in Madrid and becoming fluent in Spanish wasn’t originally part of the plan for Kemp, but finding herself graduating during a recession, she didn’t relish the thought of ‘real’ job hunting and set off to Spain to teach English instead. “I loved being in Madrid but after a while it didn’t sit well with me to just be defined by language, I had other ambitions,” she says. “I took evening classes in film making and started taking on roles as script supervisor.”
It was working on a Fernando Colomo film in the Alpujarra mountains in Southern Spain that led to her current preoccupation, the Open Air Theatre Project, a plan to build an outdoor theatre on the outskirts of the village of Laroles. “I grew up going to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall and the Alpujarras region is equally stunning, with huge, expansive views of the landscape,” she says. “It’s easier to raise money when there’s not a recession, but it does make people more open to crazy ideas and the receptiveness of the Mayor and the village showed they also felt it was worth trying.”
Thanks to a grant, work on creating the stage has already begun on what was originally the village’s threshing circle, and Kemp plans to launch crowdfunding in January 2014. She has visions of staging an annual theatre festival and other events that will attract the local community and tourists alike. “I enjoy the fact this place will still be a focus of communal activity,” she says. “They used to sing improvised poems about pastoral life while threshing here. It’s not just any old piece of land, the oral tradition of the site really resonates with me. I love the idea of rescuing something for the community to use, something that restores the space and gives it a new use. The theatre ticks all these boxes.”