Ben Henson on This is Our Youth

Posted on April 4, 2015 by Basement

How would you describe This Is Our Youth in one sentence…

Is Macauley Culkin dead or is that just a rumour?

From Broadway to West End to Steppenwolf, this production has received critical acclaim worldwide. Has it been performed in NZ before?

Silo has done it before, like, twelve or so years ago (way before my NZ time). And I think the Basement’s very own Charlie Motorboat McDermott played Dennis so that would have been awesome. I only found that out this week though – I never really look into previous productions of a show while I’m working on it – it can sometimes cloud you from seeing what’s happening in the rehearsal room right in front of you, and you start thinking about how that guy from Juno did it this one time.

How do you think this very Manhatten tale translates for an Auckland audience 19 years on from it’s original inception?

There are still clueless, rich, mouthy dickheads without a clue in this world. People’s parents still fuck them up. People still take drugs; smoke pot; drink too much Coke; lose their virginity and regret it; pretend they aren’t terrified every waking moment; pretend they’re capable; pretend they wouldn’t rather give up and run back to mum than face another day living a lie as some jenga-tower concept of what it is to be an adult. The conversation isn’t over.

Benjamin Henson Writer Kenneth Lonergan has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, won awards at Sundance and was nominated for Best Screenplay for his contributions to Gangs of New York. What is it about his writing that captures your interest?

It doesn’t. I hate it.

Kenneth Lonergan’s writing is pompous, over-inflated, verbose and blowing smoke so far up its own arsehole it should be registered as a medical practice. Luckily… that is exactly what this amazing play is all about. These fragile and impeccably well-observed characters are so lost we can’t help but fall for them. It’s painful and it’s true and there’s something about their cluelessness that makes us feel better about all the shit going on in our own lives.

What else is coming up for you this year?

Fractious Tash are working on a development process for their next big adventure; I’m writing a piece for ATC’s Next Big Thing at the Basement Thetare and I’m about to start teaching the next batch of fresh talent at The Actors’ Program.

Fave Basement memory has got to be…

This one time during the dress rehearsal of Tigerplay, a man came banging on the studio’s fire door thinking all the screaming was coming from a brothel… He wouldn’t leave until he was sure the female cries for help were just part of a show… My moustache and fox fur scarf didn’t do much to convince him I wasn’t a pimp.

And one Benjamin Henson fact that even The Basement Theatre community wouldn’t know (!) is…

My mum’s maiden name is Freaks. My first pet was called Foxy. That makes my porn name Foxy Freaks.

Benjamin Henson is the director of THIS IS OUR YOUTH playing at ours 7-18 April, 7pm.