I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity by Artistic Director Clare Watson to direct Medea. A wonderful adaptation by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks. I’ve had my eye on this award-winning work for some time now and am excited to be leading its WA premiere. Kate is one of the country’s best playwrights and actors, and a dear friend. It’s wonderful to be working on this script having last directed her work The Danger Age for Deckchair Theatre in 2010. This is a contemporary Medea as experienced and told by her two children. The casting of these young performers (who will never leave the stage) is critical to the play’s success.
Setting the scene for our Medea casting process:
It’s early on Sunday morning and members of our Medea team are in the Western Australian Youth Theatre Company (WAYTCo) space at King Street Arts Centre. We are prepping for what will be a day long call out process. We will meet with up to 100 boys aged between 10 and 16 years of age. In this group, we are looking for a core group of emerging artists to join us for an eight-week long workshop. The process will result in casting four boys who will join us for Black Swan’s production of Medea.
In a wonderful first-time collaboration with WAYTCo, we have the hands-on support of General Manager Mollie Hewitt. She is busily writing down details as the queues of young men and their families snake off down the corridor. Executive Producer/WAYTCo Director James Berlyn snaps a polaroid of each participant – and then the day is off and running.
The call out has four rotations of 30 young men. At the end of the day we are sitting around a table making the tough decisions to narrow down our workshop group to 25. What follows over the next eight weeks is an introduction to Medea: the script and process. For these committed and focused 25 young artists, the program is an opening into professional practice.
The Medea creative team, designer Bryan Woltjen, composer Melanie Robinson, actor Alexandria Steffenson (our actual Medea), and teaching artists join us for these workshop sessions. The sense of camaraderie and teamwork grows over the weeks. By the final session, we know if will be heart-breaking to have to farewell many of these young artists as we move into the final casting and rehearsal process. In front of a packed room of parents and loved ones, as these young men present their rehearsed scenes, the warmth and appreciation for their talent is palpable.
We have now cast four outstanding, courageous, adventurous and dynamic young artists for Medea. Congratulations to Jack Molloy and Jesse Vakatini who share the role of Leon; and to Jalen Hewitt and Lachlan Ives who share the role of Jasper. WAYTCo have also created a special boys’ project (for Fringeworld 2020) to be offered to those artists not selected for Medea. This is a fantastic outcome, built on process and collaboration.
Watch this space…
Medea is at the State Theatre Centre this August.