Director Emma Jordan: 'Living in the moment makes both the past and the future that bit more manageable'

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Theatre director and artistic director of Belfast's Prime Cut Productions, Emma Jordan

Emma Jordan at the Lyric during the rehearsing of The Border Game Picture by Hugh Russell.
Gail Bell

Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

When I'm in rehearsals, I am up at 7.30am – quick shower and cuppa and out the door. I like to get into the theatre early – closer to the eye of the storm. I love easy weekend mornings with nothing planned so I can go with the flow. Life is so busy and timetabled that I really enjoy the days when the plan is that there is no plan.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

I love breakfast and dinner – but I often skip lunch. I have been known to drive miles to buy really good organic eggs – poached egg and wheaten are hard to beat. I make dinner every evening for me and my three girls. I really enjoy cooking and try to mix it up according to our mood, but Sunday roast is a big favourite in our house.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

I buy nutrition supplements but that doesn't necessarily mean I take them. I have good intentions but bad follow-through. I have been doing a lot of research re supplements to aid the journey through menopause and always take probiotics and vitamin D and C.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I have been on many diets, some more successful than others. I have just joined Slimming World on the basis that I can still eats spuds, so let's see how that goes. My willpower used to be so much stronger – I think when it comes to diets, it's the mental strength that makes it a success or failure.


Weekend treat?

We love a takeaway on a Friday night – the variety of choice in Belfast is fantastic, so we all take turns in picking our favourite cuisine. I love Hatch and Wolf in Belfast and there is nothing like an Indian from Ruchi on the Ormeau Road.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

We have two Springer Spaniels, so walking them keeps me active – I live right beside Orangefield Park which is a brilliant, dog-friendly environment with a real sense of community. I try to practise mindfulness as I find it a really useful tool for managing stress. Living in the moment makes both the past and the future that bit more manageable.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

For me, yoga works – it is good for the body and the soul and the spiritual aspect of it makes it a 360-degree experience. I do eat a lot of vegetables and try to drink as much water as I can every day.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I was never into sport at school and am still haunted by the smell of the changing rooms – unforgettable, and not in a good way.


Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple, but with a conscious effort to saving the wine for weekends.


Stairs or lift?

Lift, if there is a choice.


What book are you currently reading?

Marzahn, Mon Amour [by Katja Oskamp] – a recommendation from the brilliant booksellers in No Alibis bookshop. It's translated from German and is a brilliant and funny story of a woman in the midst of a mid-life crisis.


Best Netflix?

I am addicted to great drama series – we are so lucky to be living in an era when TV is so good. The most recent series I really enjoyed on Netflix was Ozark, and HBO's Succession is genius, with an amazing performance from Brian Cox.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

Not really a surprise, but I am a rubbish baker. I did give it a good 'go' during the pandemic, but the results weren't always equal to the effort.


Any new skills or hobbies?

I love design and am constantly changing colours and furniture. Decoupage is a really soothing and satisfying pastime. I also really enjoy gardening too, it's such a relaxing habit and it's wonderful to see the fruits of one's efforts – so rewarding.


How do you relax?

With my family and friends, glass of wine in hand and candles lit.


What are your goals for 2022/23?

I have some exciting projects coming up including Prime Cut's tour of Removed in Belgium and Australia, so travel and adventure are on the cards.


What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I am an insomniac so my sleeping patterns are erratic. I tend to stay up late which is preferable to lying looking at the ceiling, so I am fond of an afternoon nap. I have tried everything to help my sleep pattern and find sleep apps really helpful.


Biggest gripe?

Northern Ireland's political landscape is very frustrating – the lack of appreciation of the massive contribution art and culture has made to the rebuilding of our society is top of a long list.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Yes, the passing of my husband three years ago has certainly confirmed how precious life is. Family first - you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

My understanding of mortality is something that is certainly evolving - grief compounded by the strange times we live in makes me all the more determined to live life to the full.

Emma Jordan is directing The Border Game currently on tour and next showing at The Market Place Theatre, Armagh, on Wednesday September 7.