Iconic females the focus of emerging women artists at NIDA

13 December 2018

Hedda Gabler: the Kim Kardashian of the 1800s? Princess Diana: an iconic feminist? Young women at NIDA are creating stories about iconic females in the Directors and Designers Graduating Productions this week.

Above: Shannon Dooley (Acting, 2007), in Diana, directed by Tait DeLorenzo, designed by Camille Ostrowsky. Photo: Lisa-Maree Williams.

Inspired by the BBC television Panorama interview with Princess Diana in 1995 with Martin Bashir, DIANA is a devised live-cinema, one-woman psychological drama, with live cameras on stage throwing to an onstage screen in real time. Director Tait DeLorenzo has co-written the script with NIDA acting alumna Shannon Dooley (Acting, 2007), who plays Diana. The set and costumes are pared back, designed by Camille Ostrowsky, with Diana on a platform in the iconic velvet suit she wore for the interview.

‘The show is quite intimate, it is about Diana the woman, not Diana the Princess,’ said Tait. ‘We don’t have anything to add to the narrative or conspiracy theories about her death and we are not retelling her life story,’ she added.

‘Diana was attractive because she was someone who appeared so strong and yet so vulnerable at the same time.  And she was then cut down in her prime.’

‘Our starting point for the show was the idea of taking a discursive approach (a show that is basically just a monologue) to constructing a narrative about Diana striving to be 100% honest and vulnerable at a time in her life where she was at breaking point. The stakes of the interview were so high that the need to clear her name and live her truth were absolutely paramount to her survival.’

‘We believe that the interview was a deliberate construction orchestrated by Diana for a purpose  - to clear her name, to be at peace with the past, to tell women going through the same thing that they are not alone. The interview transcript has now turned into a powerful feminist manifesto.

Above: Adriane Daff  in Hedda, directed by Mikala Westall, designed by Kate Beere. Photo: Lisa-Maree Williams.

Hedda Gabler is another iconic female figure in performing arts that Director Mikala Westall and Set and Costume Designer Kate Beere are creating in Hedda in a bold new staging, set within the confines of a bedroom.

‘You can talk about Hamlet and all the great male roles in theatre,  but in most of the female roles the women end up dead or in unhappy marriages,’ said Mikala. ‘We wanted to look at this character who everybody has something to say about– whether she is a genius or a manipulative lunatic. We wanted to interrogate that – what is about these female roles that we keep returning to?

‘In many ways she is the Kim Kardashian of the 1880s. We don’t often see unlikeable women on stage or screen. We see plenty of unlikeable men and we are happy to see that. Unearthing not just why she does that but why she manipulates people or rallies against the world she is in. We took it out of 1880s and put it into the contemporary realm and had a look at what it is about her that is still relevant.’

More information about NIDA's Directors and Designers Graduating Productions 2018 here.