Multi-award winning director and playwright Lara Foot is the first woman to be appointed CEO of Cape Town's Baxter Theatre. Here, she talks about her kids, sushi, and the year ahead...

Description: Lara Foot

How do you feel about your life right now?

I am 44, and this is the most fulfilled I've ever felt in my work, my relationships, my life.

How did you get to where you are today?

I don't know. I've been thinking about it in terms of where you are in your life at a particular point in time. I don't really believe that it has an enormous amount to do with a specific theatrical talent or anything. For me, a career path is always about a search for a better understanding of yourself and the society you live in, and that can go right back to childhood. My mother, Sonja, was an extremist of sorts. She was very loving and often dysfunctional, and I attribute a lot of my search for           truth, politically, to her.

At the moment my children are at turning points in their lives. Daniel is just turning into a young man; Rebecca is just pre-teen, turning into a young lady. What concerns them and what their needs are constantly challenges me.

So you attribute your sociopolitical consciousness and your success to your mom?

Very few white people spoke out against apartheid then, so - ja, I think so. But I question what one means by 'success'. Is it when someone has achieved authority, or a certain amount of international acclaim, or made money? I don't think it's about that at all. I measure my success in terms of feeling that I am doing right by my kids, by my staff, by my friends, by my family.

What is the role of theatre?

Description: Cape Town's Baxter Theatre

Cape Town's Baxter Theatre

Theatre is such an intimate thing. It's so private and public at the same time. People go to a place where they feel safe to feel. For me theatre is a collective space where we see each other as an audience. It's the one place we can meet from various backgrounds, cultures, religions, age groups, and look at each other with interest and wonder.

What sparked your interest in telling stories?

Description: Lara Foot, Baxter Theatre CEO

From a very young age my parents took us to the drive-in cinema in Pretoria. There were age restrictions, but they got me in by hiding me under my mother's kaftan. I'd sit at the back with my brother. We sometimes stayed until 12 o'clock. As I watched I'd realize when the plot had gone wrong and I would spend until three or four in the morning reworking it, in my head or even on paper - and then I'd go to school the next day in a muddle. So I think from a young age - four, five - I had a sense of whether a plot works or not, and how a play should be.

Also, my mom had ups and downs, so I had a laser-sharp sensitivity to when the downs were coming. I think that affected my sense of directing. I can see the truth of a moment. I can see when the fall or when the up is coming. I think that makes me difficult to be with in a way: I am watching all the time.

Did anyone in theatre influence your career?

Well, I believe you meet people because of what you're looking for, and they meet you because they can see what you're looking for. Barney Simon (the late co-founder of the Market Theatre) fished me out of the pool because he knew what it was I was searching for. He was a mentor, father, mother - I was very, very lucky. I believe we attract a certain kind of person because we want the same thing - we want a better place. You know when you meet that person.

How did it feel to see your play Solomon and Marion come to life?

Phenomenal. The relationship between Janet Suzman (Marion) and Khayalethu Anthony (Solomon) - that journey - was amazing to witness. Their relationship on stage was better than I had imagined. The letters I got from people who'd seen the play! And phone calls because they had lost children! I was on the floor - just finished. I asked if they felt the play helped in some way. Some said 'definitely'; some said they didn't know.

Lara’s footprint

Description: Mannie Manim, Lara Foot and John Slemon at Mannie's farewell

Mannie Manim, Lara Foot and John Slemon at Mannie's farewell

Lara has directed over 40 productions, developed 35 new South African plays and won over 15 top awards, Including Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Outstanding Young Director (1992), National Vita Award (with Athol Fugard) for Best Director (1994), Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award (1995), Fleur du Cap Award for Best New SA Play for Tshepang (2003), and the Golden Globe Best Short Film Award In 2006. In 2004 she won in the Theatre category of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative awards, and worked with celebrated director Sir Peter Hall for a year.

Future productions: Lara hopes to bring artist William Kentridge to the Baxter and will also be taking a Yael Farber adaptation of Strindberg's Miss Julie to the Edinburgh Festival.

A translation of Sam Shepard's Buried Child, Doodsnikke, directed by Janice Honeyman, opens later this year. The annual Zabalaza festival she says, will be bigger and better, and there's an adaptation of JWI Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians in the pipeline.

Lara in a box

Description:  Lara and Dame Janet Suzman

Lara and Dame Janet Suzman

Likes & Dislikes

Top of my list of loves would be spending time with my kids. I love going to the beach, I love movies, I love my friends, I LOVE food and wine, I love my dogs. I love my staff at the Baxter... I could go on and on. I dislike rude people, people who aren't loyal. I dislike crime and corruption,

My favourite...

·         Music I recently started listening to Brazilian jazz and blues guitarist Gilberto Gil - he's awesome. I love music and I listen to it a lot. I listen to Bread on the weekend sometimes. The other day I listened to Beethoven's 5th while cleaning out my office.

·         Restaurants I love eating out but I don't always know the names of restaurants. I do know all the places for sushi, though. I love 1890 House Sushi and Grill in Observatory.

·         Theatre moments There are many, but one that stands out is when I saw Barney Simon's Born in the RSA at the Market Theatre in 1985.1 thought, 'Whatever they are doing, I want to do It.'

·         Film I always go back to Charlie Chaplin, the one with the lion girl [The Lion's Cage]. I love the simplicity. I loved The Hours because of the beautiful adaptation from the novel. I loved II Postino, Delicatessen... I mostly watch DVDs, but I do go to the movies with my kids.

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