Australia as muse– interviews with NIDA's 2018 Directing students

14 December 2018

In the 2018 cohort of NIDA’s Masters of Fine Arts (Directing), several of the students were inspired by iconic Australian themes and stories for the culminating project of their degree: the music of Midnight Oil, the disappearance of Frederick Valentich, and cult classic film Wake in Fright.

Brought onto the stage for the end-of-year Directors’ and Designers’ Graduating Productions, these works presented heroes and anti-heroes from our cultural and artistic canon, with all evoking a particular concept of ‘Australia’ as a general muse.

Samuel Lucas Allen (MFA Directing, 2018) was inspired by Australian cult classic film Wake in Fright.

Rather than replicating the plot of the film exactly, his stage adaptation takes its characters from the general archetypes the film portrays. For his storytelling approach, visual and narrative, Sam chose to utilise the mode of expressionism.

Sam talks about his inspiration and directorial choices for ‘expressionist nightmare’, stage adaptation Wake in Fright:

Wake in Fright’s set and costume designer was Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) (2018) student Brianna Russell.

Samuel Lucas Allen's Wake in Fright; set and costume design by Brianna Russell

Darcy Green (MFA Directing, 2018) was inspired by one of Australia’s great unsolved mysteries, the notorious Bass Strait disappearance of pilot Frederick Valentich in 1978, which gave rise to many UFO theories.

Instead of trying to ‘solve’ the mystery, Darcy worked with two writers from the MFA (Writing) cohort, Jackson Used and Elliott Vella, to explore the underlying themes of isolation and grief which surrounded the event. They named their stage adaptation of this real-life event after the plane: Delta Sierra Juliet.

Darcy chose to tell the story as a sonic immersive experience, with each member of the audience wearing headphones, and only one character ever seen on stage.

Darcy talks about his inspiration and directorial choices for one-man stageplay and sonic immersion, Delta Sierra Juliet:

Delta Sierra Juliet’s set and costume designer was Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) (2018) student Olivia Rowlands.

Darcy Green's Delta Sierra Juliet; set and costume design by Olivia Rowlands

Christopher Thomson (MFA Directing, 2018) was inspired to adapt Australian rock legend Peter Garrett’s autobiography, Big Blue Sky– and set it to the music of Midnight Oil played live on stage.

Rather than trying to retell the story in Peter Garrett’s autobiography, Christopher decided the most important element was Peter’s “lust for life”, and it was this which he sought to capture and translate.

Chris talks about his inspiration and directorial choices for his rock concert–meets–stageplay, Big Blue Sky.

Big Blue Sky’s set and costume designer was Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) (2018) student Aislinn King.

Christopher Thomson's Big Blue Sky; set and costume design by Aislinn King

Full season and performance blurbs here

Directors’ and Designers’ Graduating Productions: Wednesday 12–Saturday 15 December, 2018; National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), 215 Anzac Pde, Kensington NSW 2033. Tickets from Ticketek

Read about NIDA's Masters of Fine Arts (Directing) course here