Five of our favourites from 2019: interviews

Friday, December 20, 2019 - 15:18

In any given year, a huge number of talented people pass through the doors of Southbank Centre, and 2019 is no exception. From artists to authors, poets to percussionists, dancers to dramatists, we’ve enjoyed the company, the output, and the influence of some truly remarkable individuals in the last twelve months. And in some instances we’ve been lucky enough to meet with the artists, and get to know even more about them and their work.

Now, as the year approaches its end, we’ve taken the opportunity to look back through our blog, revisit our artist interviews, and then somehow whittle that down to a manageable amount. Here are five of our favourite, fascinating interviews from 2019.

Heather Morris

From The Tattooist of Auschwitz to Cilka's Journey
It was like flipping a light switch. That was the moment Lale decided he was going to tell me the emotional, gut-wrenching, horrors that he had experienced and witnessed. And after another couple of weeks... he started to live again, and reconnect with the Jewish community. He’d started to unburden, and I watched the physical and emotional changes in him.
Heather Morris on earning the trust of Lale Sokolov

There are not many authors who make their literary debut with a global best-seller, but Heather Morris is just that. Her impactful debut, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, tells the remarkable story of concentration camp internee, Lale Sokolov and his enduring love for Gita, the woman who would become his wife. Written from Sokolov’s first hand accounts, the book has sold over three million copies globally since its 2018 publication.

In October this year she appeared at Southbank Centre as part of London Literature Festival, to discuss her much anticipated follow-up, Cilka’s Journey. But ahead of that performance, kindly dropped by to talk about her work, and tell us how she came to write the story of Lale Sokolov.

read the interview


Natalia Osipova

The Mother
It’s the energy of creativity which motivates me. The most important thing for me is to fulfil my potential and to dance everything I want to. I don’t aspire to be anyone’s ideal ballerina. I’m always discovering new sides of myself, I take risks and am not too preoccupied with the possibility of disappointing someone.
Natalia Osipova on receiving praise as a dancer

Principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and a former soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet, were you to compose a list of the greatest ballet dancers performing today, Natalia Osipova would undoubtedly feature. In June, she appeared at Southbank Centre in The Mother, choreographed by Arthur Pita, performing the title role of a young single mother who must face fantastic creatures, impossible trials and cross the line between life and death as she sets out to save her child.

Ahead of the three-show run, Osipova spoke with us about the show and her own background in ballet.

read the interview


Anthony Anaxagorou

When kids see someone like me, a working-class Cypriot from North London, come into their school under the auspices of a ‘poet’ it gets them thinking and talking. I want them to use poetry as a tool to think about the world, translate the parts which live beyond language, and most importantly, to own their experiences.
Anthony Anaxagorou on teaching poetry in schools

I first saw Anthony Anaxagorou in the basement of The Star of Kings, a North London pub, which was the then venue for burgeoning spoken word night Out-Spoken. I’d never been to anything like that before, it blew me away. Six years on and Out-Spoken is gearing up for the second year of a Southbank Centre residency, whilst Anaxagorou can be found on the shortlist for the TS Eliot Poetry Prize for his remarkable poetry collection After The Formalities.

In May 2019, ahead of Out-Spoken’s first Southbank Centre event, Anaxagorou joined me in the National Poetry Library to discuss the remarkable rise of the night he founded back in 2012, and his own journey as a poet.

read the interview


Deborah Colker

I could, through dance, tell the story of a country, a culture; mixing gestures and dances expressions to translate into movements the personality of my city. A city that loves being outdoors, loves to play, loves gatherings and mixing different cultures. I had to search and discover these gestures, this movement, that could translate Rio and Brazil into dance.
Deborah Colker on being Director of Movement for the Rio Olympics

The celebrated Brazilian theatre director, dancer and choreographer, Deborah Colker, can boast a number of achievements and accolades on her CV. In 2001 she received the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for her show Mix; she wrote and directed the Cirque du Soleil production Ovo, and in 2016 choreographed the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games.

May 2019 brought Colker to London for the first time in seven years, with her latest work, the acclaimed Dog Without Feathers staged at Southbank Centre. Before the stage was set, Colker took time to talk to us about the inspiration behind the show as well as its meticulous preparation.

read the interview


Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli: Lost Children Archive
I never know what is going to happen when I start writing a book. There is never a plot, or pre-figured characters, or a form. Definitely never a teaching or a moral of the story. There isn’t even a theme. The only thing I have when I begin a new project is a bundle of questions I want to explore, and a force that some people call inspiration, but I prefer to call intuition.
Valeria Luiselli on her writing process

At 35 years old, Valeria Luiselli has already experienced a huge amount of what the modern world has to offer. The award-winning Mexcian author has lived on four continents, and has worked as a teacher, a librettist, and as an interpreter. It is the last of these roles, volunteering for young Central American migrants seeking legal status in the United States, that has influenced much of her recent writing, including 2019’s Lost Children Archive.

In March, Luiselli appeared at Southbank Centre to present and discuss her novel in person. Ahead of her appearance we spoke to the author about the inspiration and the development of this remarkable book.

read the interview


All of our interviews can be found online, on Southbank Centre’s blog, giving you a unique insight into arts and culture from artists, musicians, writers and performers.

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by Glen Wilson