The hit theatre show in its third run in Sydney, Nov 7th to Dec 3rd 2011

Director’s Diary

1st September 2011 12:01 am

I’ve never blogged before so hope I’m doing it right. If any bloggers out there have any tips let me know. I can’t tell you how excited and honored I am to be putting this play on again and really hope we can raise awareness and ultimately have clemency granted for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

When Leland Keane called, well face booked, me and said he’d heard of the play and wanted to meet and have a chat about it and the beginning of the year I was really excited. I’ve always wanted to work with Tamarama Rock Surfers and we’ve rehearsed at the Bondi Pavilion before but have always staged the play around Newtown for unknown reasons – Bondi seems the natural choice so now it feels like we’re bringing it home!

The last two productions have been absolutely brilliant to work on and I’ve learnt so much. As a writer and director I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the amazing talents that have come together to put this show on. In 2008 the Green brothers, Danny and Josh Green brought so much life to the play – Danny onstage as Macca and Josh just slightly prompt side playing a cacophony of percussive instruments to really fuel and create the world of the play. That year we were also lucky enough to have extensive dramaturgy from Mary-Ann Gifford. Without her constructive advice the play wouldn’t be where it is today. These three people truly gave Bondi Dreaming everything they had and I am eternally grateful to them for everything they did to let it be born.

In 2009 Marcel Bracks came in to play Macca and Alon Ilsar jumped on board to supply his own brand of percussive magic. These guys along with the original cast of Toby Levins and Greg Hatton worked damn hard in a very short rehearsal time of three weeks to get together a production we could all be very proud of. We were also very excited to welcome Tom Bannerman on board as a designer who had the mammoth task of designing a set that draw the audiences attention to a small playing area but also filled the expanse of downstairs seymour. He did a bloody great job. On top of everything he had to design it to be packed away each night as there was another show on during the day. He did it and with the help of our English stage manager Henry Church and lighting operator Dean Stephens we got that bump out down to half an hour. Some nights there was a bit of swearing and shouting but by the end we were a well oiled machine and think would rival most ballet companies for grace under pressure.

We also worked with the artistic genius of Chris Snape as our lighting designer and he did such a terrific job of setting each scene. Chris was an absolute gentleman and consummate professional. He sat in rehearsals for a couple of days writing a few things down then come tech had everything ready to go. It was the most efficient tech run I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with.

Well that’s a little bit of back story more to come. My heads reeling at the moment at the people who are getting involved this year and the wheels that are starting to spin in motion. More on that to come…

To be continued.

28th September 11:07pm

Well, we had our first rehearsal tonight! Was so exciting. After having a passionate production meeting last week it was fantastic to see everyone come together again and bring what we’d talked about at the meeting. Nick brought our new associate producer, Michelle Neil and Tom brought his new set model – both brilliant! The set is very different to the last two productions but harnesses the goodness from both. Still a few things to iron out but looking great. Then we had a first official read of the play and very stoked with level of commitment the cast have. It’s going to be a powerful show.

29th September 11:26 pm

Tonight we rehearsed the first scene! I’d programed into the rehearsal schedule that we would do scene 1,2 and 3 but we got so stuck into talking about who these characters are and who we are, well more Christian and Greg who are playing them, that we didn’t get past the first scene. I’m very happy though that we’re taking the time to mine so deeply into both the play and ourselves. There was a real sense of exploring and exposing truth tonight. We stripped back preconceived notions and tried to really focus on the relationship and what was happening in the moment. It was scary but enthralling. Bloody hell I feel like I’m writing in my first year acting journal all over again but it’s just so awesome to work with such consummate professionals. We got down and dirty in the work without any egos. Suggestions were made and were tried without defense mechanisms coming up. It felt like a real jamming of ideas.

In other news Tom adjusted the set model according to thoughts that were put to him last night and after looking at it Nick, Nick and I all thought it was better the way he had it. Poor designers it must be very frustrating and I can imagine Tom wants to say sometimes, “Have a good think about that before change the plans and models” but he’s a gentleman and hasn’t yet grabbed me in a headlock and thrown me across the stage.

In honor of Greg and due to the annoying cold snap in Sydney we have decided to make this first week of rehearsals “Hats” week and all are required to wear a hat upon entering the rehearsal room. Please feel free to end any names for upcoming rehearsal weeks.

Marketing and publicity is starting to kick off with Nick, Kar and Michelle doing a sterling job and look forward to seeing stuff out there.

We’re getting ready to head to Bali soon to rehearse and have been overwhelmed by the response we have been getting by the wonderful people on the island. I’ve spent so much time in Bali but going back this time feels incredibly special and I’m really looking forward to touching down in Denpasar.

18th October 2011 6:39pm

We got back from Bali yesterday and wow what a week. We met some amazing people and had the kind of rehearsal experience I’ve only ever dreamt of. I love Bali so much so for me it felt like going home but for some of the guys it was their first time or the first time in a long time and it was awesome being a part of them becoming entranced by the magic the island has to offer. For me this time was incredibly different and quite life changing. As a bonding session the week was invaluable but it’s worth was so much more than that. To meet the people and see the places that inspired the play really gave us a reason to believe in the plays message and desire to bring it out as truthfully as possible.

We hit the ground running going straight from the airport to dump our bags and then to a friend’s house who gave us the lowdown on the situation inside the prison and a great overviews of Indonesian culture.

Throughout the week we were there we were granted access to the prison, we’re lucky enough to meet some inspirational people inside and outside the prison walls, soaked up Balinese culture and hospitality and I think each one of us was irrevocably changed…for the better.

Our play has always involved laughter both onstage and from the audience and it’s been a tricky one to get our heads around. We’ve always wondered whether it was okay to have light in what is, at the core, a dark subject. Meeting our new friends in Bali restored our faith in our project and validated and informed the direction we are going in.

Sitting around at lunch in a Warung on the final day of our trip we all spoke our highlights and it was brilliant that we each had different moments but all smiled warmly at the memory of each others.

One word kept coming up throughout the week:

SERENDIPITIOUS : the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way : a fortunate stroke of serendipity | a series of small serendipities.

Bali truly weaved it’s magic. The trip was way beyond our expectations – what ever could go right did and ten fold.

For example: There’s a cold chisel song in the play and on Thursday night we were sitting on the beach and a five peace band, including a double base, strolled up to our table on the beach and busted it out. We all sung along in awe with Alon jumping up and playing the drums. Stuff like this happened all week and we were constantly humbled by people actions and moments of heartfelt expression.

There were moments of sadness and pain in the trip but overall it brought much peace and joy. I read recently that inside a prison laughter is better than sex. Having not stayed longer than a few hours inside a jail I’m not really qualified to agree or disagree but I can say that the healing power of happiness was certainly evident in many of the people we met. I know we all want to return and help support the work that is happening over there.

19 October 11:42pm

We had our first rehearsal after getting back from Bali tonight. It’s only been since Monday but it was refreshing to see the guys again and also Tim Burns our legend of a stage manager, Michelle our outstanding Producer and Kar Chalmers publicist superstar. It hadn’t been that long since we’d seen the rest of the crew but I felt like a different person greeting them. Greg told me tonight he’s come back and become addicted to trying to do good for other people and search hard for the positives in any given situation. It’s good to see art and life merging together.

When we got down to rehearsing the play we really started to burn rubber and got through more than we’d done before. In Bali we spent so much time talking and researching the play that I think translating it to a practical, working world is a lot easier now. It was just with Christian and Greg tonight and I’m really beginning to see beautifully crafted characters come out in them. I’m looking forward to working with Wayne tomorrow. We’re finding stillness and simplicity at the moment and I hope that’s going to make the play all that more powerful.

20th October 2011 11:15pm

Tonight we finally welcomed Wayne “Sherpa” Bradley to the rehearsal room in his official capacity. He has come in early on, in a more advisory role, but tonight came in acting-guns blazing and tore up the carpet in the Bondi Pav’s Ocean room. It’s such a joy to have the shared experience of Bali to draw from in rehearsals. Instead of trying to find anecdotes from my life or the lives of the actors to match the obligations of the play we simply talk about the things we’ve done together – people we’ve met, places we’ve been. It really means less meandering chitter chatter in the rehearsal room. We don’t have to work to be on the same page as we already are. I think this is true when you get a stellar cast together and in the last couple of productions we certainly bonded through rehearsing and had some great moments of unity but I’ve really learnt the value of an intensive rehearsal experience and recommend it.

When we were in Bali we came up with nicknames for each other. It’s something men do when they get together. I’m not sure of the scientific reasons for our need to rebrand but I’m sure it’s happened throughout the ages. The list is as follows:

Alon: “Mangostein” – after a popular balinese fruit that Alon enjoyed. As a side note The mangostein fruit was used as target practice after Christian bought a blowdart on the beach. We left that in Bali, didn’t think it would get through customs.

Nick: “Lighting” – 1. Because he’s on to stuff as quick as a flash and 2. because of his last name.

Christian: “Rookie” – he actually called this on himself after making an error on the first day. Not too sure what it was. Will have to double check that one. Christian later went on to direct traffic on the streets of Bali after he bought a whistle off a traffic warden. So maybe his nick name should be something to do with that? Suggestions welcome.

Wayne: “Sherpa” – Sadly Wayne got to the end of the week without been given one but was graceful in his lack of naming and told us he missed out on this comedy gold because he was carrying us all week. Thus we named him “Sherpa”

Rodrigo: “Gringo” – Rodrigo was actually named before take off in Australia. I can’t remember who named him but it was quite simply because he was from Chile and apparently that’s near mexico. Not original but a little bit “Young Guns” so has a certain element of coolness.

Greg: “Hati Hati” – This means ‘be careful’ in Indonesian and I’d like to say that Greg was given this because he was the cautious traveller but actually it was again more because of his last name. Again we get ten points for creativity.

Tom: – Tom escaped being nicknamed. Mainly because we already affectionately called him ‘The Bannerman’ – yep using the old last name trick again!

Sam: “Boss”, “Grub”, “Glenn” – Like Wayne and Tom I seemed to miss out on getting a moniker so ideas were thrown around at our last lunch. It was a slap dash affair and only flicked out brainstormed thoughts came out. ‘Boss’ because I’m directing, ‘Grub’ because it was Christian’s word of the week and he wanted someone to be called it and ‘Glenn’ because apparently I bear striking resemblance to a rugby player from Manly. I like to think it’s because of my skill and agility but sadly I think it’s my bald pate.

I’m hoping we tour this play so I do something memorable and get a proper name.

At rehearsals tonight we spoke of how much we missed our new found friends in Bali and dream of having a villa there one day we can share and work in. Would be so excellent to do some more theatre there.

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One response

  1. Perfect publish. Couldnt have reported it more effective myself.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

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