RDS7: A moment of politics

Posted on September 16, 2014 by Basement

It’s an interesting thing, being in another country while they are holding elections. For the first time in my life I have no actual concept of what one party represents compared to the other, and while I could do a little research and ask a few questions, I have the guilt free pleasure of not having any choice other than to sit this one out. However, my inability to vote doesn’t mean hat I want to avoid politics entirely, and so I was intrigued to speak with Stuart Devenie about directing Philip Ormsby’s play “Wild bees” which “contains bad language and dirty politics” and how it came together at a conference table in The Basement.

Dawn Glover: It would seem that this play opening now is well placed in the context of elections.

Stuart Devenie: I know. People have said “is it specifically related to the elections?” But it’s just extraordinary timing really. The issues raised are very contemporary. The play is set in 1991. It’s been great because Phil, and I have a very similar sense of humor, so we’ve connected through the script very well.

DG: What is your general approach as a director? What is your process?

SD: I think you find the process with each script. There’s a phrase in Zen called “the beginners mind,” and that’s the state I think that you need to be in when you go on the stage as an actor, so that everything is new and discovered. I suppose my process is to try and create a discovery as we go along so that the audience becomes another traveler in the journey. That is why every night the performance is a bit different, because the audience is different.

DG: Was there a moment in this process that really stands out to you?

SD: I think because this play has a lot of conversations that overlap, once we all made the discovery of “the trigger word” rather than the cue it made the acting flow.

I don’t know if you know Stephen Sondheim….the thing is that with Sondheim it sounds so complex but if you stay on your own line in the music then it is actually quite simple. The complexity (in the music) comes from all these simple lines coming together in an orchestrated way. That is exactly the process that we have gone through with Wild Bees. The line of the individual characters is quite simple, but once you thread them together in the particular style that we are using it becomes like an orchestral piece.

DG: As a director how do you handle opening night?

SD: I believe that what the director has to have in their mind from the moment that they start rehearsal is to become redundant as quickly as possible. When the actors start to take the process over and own it then you know that you have done your job. That is why I can’t stand first nights as a director, because there is nothing to do.

Having had the pleasure of seeing, Wild Bees, on opening night, I have to say that Stuart certainly directed himself into redundancy, and I for once was quite pleased to be caught up in “A Moment of Politics.”


Row D Seat 7 is a blog written by Dawn Glover. Dawn studied acting at Purdue University (USA) earning her Masters of Fine Arts in Performance. She has worked professionally as an actor and singer throughout The States and made Auckland her new home almost two years ago. She is one of the founders of Navi Collaborative and is actively interested in theatre for social change, experimental works, and performance art.