What made you want to recreate an Elizabethan play? Have you always been interested in that period of theatre?
I’m a massive nerd, so I’ve been in love with Shakespeare for a long time. Then, while I was doing an SGCNZ-organized internship at Shakespeare’s Globe in London I saw some of their staged readings (and one production) of a few other Elizabethan plays and I was hooked on how weird and wonderful they were. I co-produced a series of staged readings back in Wellington, and discovered the hidden gem that is Galathea, which forms the basis for this production!
What do you think makes Into the Bush such a special experience both for audience and Cast?
I think that it’s special every time you get an entirely queer group of performers and creatives together. What I think that means for the audience and the cast is that there is a freedom of expression that you otherwise might not find in a show where actors and performers are playing identities further from their own. Plus, we’ve had an incredibly playful and enjoyable rehearsal process and I think that translates on to the stage and to an audience!
How did you get into theatre initially?
My parents put my sister and I (I’m a twin) into theatre when we were young. My first ever performance was the lion in the play within a play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so Shakespeare hooked me early. I never studied theatre until 2018, though – I just did a LOT of it extracurricularly.
Is there anything you’d like to say to young people who’re interested in theatre but a bit nervous about jumping in?
Mostly that you don’t have to be perfect! If you love it, do it. And there are so many ways to get involved, helping with props or a small part are just as rewarding as a large part, really. Especially because so much of what makes theatre magical is a group of people getting together and creating a piece of art together. All talents are welcome!
What changes would you like to see in the theatre world to make it more accessible for queer youth?
I’d like to see more queer characters full stop. And characters where the story isn’t about them being queer; that’s especially true for gender diverse characters. Also, much more flexibility around who gets to play what roles, and also around swapping the gender of characters. I mean seriously, you don’t NEED to do a Shakespeare play and cast 12 men and 2 women. It’s just archaic. I reckon if Shakespeare were alive today he’d write in all the beautiful complexity of our modern world and modern queerness and gender identities, so it’s truer to his work to think of it that way. A strong personal opinion!
Given that this play is Elizabethan, it has a very deep history, did that scare you at all coming into directing this production?
Nope! Since I’m a big nerd about everything Elizabethan I had a lot of background knowledge, and I’m also generally really not afraid to mess around with content.
Is there anything in particular you’d like audiences to take away or learn from this play?
I’d love it if they all left with a warm feeling of joy. But also: queerness is beautiful; you deserve to be accepted for who you are; and we all could do worse than to occasionally get lost in the Bush.