Dr Helen Eastman is a writer and director of theatre, opera and film. She trained as a theatre director at L.A.M.D.A., after graduating from Oxford University in Classics and English and has a doctorate in Classics from King’s College London.
As a librettist she has written commissions for Hackney Music Trust, W11, The London Children’s Choir and Aldeburgh Jubilee. Many of her poems have been set to music, most recently ‘Helium’ premiered by the BBC Singers. She is currently writing an opera for Montpellier opera, ‘Climat’, which premieres in 2021. She has recently made a series of site-specific opera shows for performance in dementia care homes for Healthpitch; these became a webseries during lockdown.
She has directed work for companies including English Touring Opera, Cork Opera House, Opera Theatre Comapny, City of London Festival, The National Theatre Studio, Circus Space, RADA and Delphi International Festival and her work has been seen at venues including Trafalgar Studios, Soho Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Warwick Arts Centre and Glasgow Citz. From 2010 to 2016 she was guest director of the triennial Cambridge University Greek play. She has also worked as a casting director in theatre and television, most recently the BAFTA-nominated Moon and Me.
Recent writing credits include: The Price, Ever Young (W11); 147, Chefs (Sheffield Crucible); She Sells Sea Shells, Don’t Tell Me Not to Fly (Underbelly); Hercules (Chester); Toybox (Hackney Music Trust); In the Night Garden Live (Minor/ CBeebies), Bing Live (Minor/ Acamar); Foreclosure Follies (Symphony Space, New York and world tour); Bicycle Boy (Without Walls, Brighton Festival, GDIF); The Nutcracker, Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas (Reading Rep), Dear Father Christmas, Father Christmas and the Icicle Bicycle (Oxford Playhouse).
She co-founded Barefaced Greek with Mairin O'Hagan to make short films in ancient languages. The first three films, which she directed, were installed at the V&A museum in London.
She is an artistic associate of the APGRD at the University of Oxford, and has recently been visiting fellow and guest artist at the Peter Wall Institute, University of British Columbia. She is a visiting lecturer in playwriting at Westminster University. From 2006-2012 she was producer of the Onassis Programme at Oxford University, commissioning new theatre inspired by the ancient world.
She has published many academic articles and chapters, most recently co-editing the book 'Seamus Heaney and the Classics' (Oxford University Press). She has given lectures and keynotes at Universities around the world, including U.B.C. (Canada), Monash (Melbourne) and throughout the U.K. She has served as 'Classics' advisor to many contemporary productions of ancient plays including in London's West End and at the National Theatre.
She founded the Live Canon ensemble and the Live Canon Poetry Press and has created over one hundred poetry shows, pop-ups and interventions with the company at venues from Abbey Road to Broadway. As director of the press, she has overseen the publishing of over fifty poetry books, including debut collections, pamphlets and anthologies. She created the 154 project, where 154 poets responded to the 154 sonnets of Shakespeare.
She has led a number of multi-disciplinary projects for universities and arts organisations - most notably the Foreclosure Follies which brought together lawyers, economists and CEOs with creative practitioners to find new ways to talk about fairness in financial markets. The project resulted in performances in Vancouver, New York, Athens, Oxford and London.
She has made a substantial body of work in response to the climate crisis, including the recent online theatre show/ escape room for children, Pearl and Pip (commissioned by Reading Fringe), a bike powered children’s musical, Bicycle Boy (commissioned by Brighton Festival/ Without Walls), the Hope project (commissioned by Canada Climate Law Initiative), and her current project Climat (Montpellier Opera House).