Joel Horwood: If you could shadow any director, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
David Burrowes: I would have loved to be in the room with Piña Bausch. Every snippet of work I’ve seen by her blows my mind a little bit, I would have loved to see her make, not so I could replicate the process but, so I could experience it. I can’t image the work she made came from a banal place, she knew how to tap into something special with her art.
You certainly enjoy a cup of coffee. How do you take it, and what does that say about you?
I want to say strong and black like me, but I drink flat whites to which I hope I have zero correlation.
What is the most powerful piece of theatre you’ve ever seen?
Simon Stones’ Thyestes blew my mind when I first saw it. I’ve seen a lot of incredible theatre since but that was the production that made me consider the stage as a medium I wanted to work with.
When you’re not directing incredible theatre productions, what gives you the greatest joy in life?
Being told I direct incredible theatre productions. I’ve also recently started to snowboard, which is mad fun.
You also direct for the screen. What are the major differences, and do you have a preference?
Don’t make me pick. There’s a lot of safety as a screen director in the fact that when you show a film it’s going to be exactly the same every time you show it. Theatre changes every night and that terrifies me, but it’s also why you do it.
David Burrowes: What’s the biggest challenge about playing a 13 year-old?
Joel Horwood: Being six foot tall with stubble that insists on growing back daily hasn’t made life easy, but I think the biggest challenge has been in finding that sense of naivety and wide-eyed wonder. Even for a 13 year-old, Ort reads as quite young, so it’s been difficult not to let my cynical, judgemental brain get in the way. Reactions to events that are instinctual to me read far too old for a 13 year-old, so it’s been a difficult task to hold back on those instincts and preconceptions.
As an official WA resident for most of your life, how on point is our regional dramaturgy?
As thrilling as it has been to see so many references to my home in the novel and in the play, for me, the story really does transcend its setting. It’s undoubtedly very Australian, and that sense of isolation and remoteness is definitely something we west coasters know all too well, but the sense of longing and hope for something bigger than us is true universal.
How influential was Tim Winton’s novel in helping you find the onstage Ort?
Hugely. Ort’s voice is so clear and detailed in the novel, and you get to spend 170 odd pages living inside his head. It informs so much of the subtext in the play, that mightn’t otherwise be as clear. I’ve spent the entire process constantly referring back to the novel to clarify and enrich moments. It’s been a real luxury having this beautifully realised character just itching to be brought to life on stage.
If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
As a kid, I would drag my Mum along to home opens on the weekend so I could assess the originality of the designs and take home brochures for me to obsess over for the next week. So, I guess I would probably be an architect. I still sometimes drive around to house inspections on weekends just to perv on people’s homes. The domain app gets a lot of use on my phone!
If you could invite one person to see this show, who would it be?
Probably either David Wenham, so he could school me on how it’s done. Or one of my favourite high school teachers, Leigh Hannah, who cast me as Seymour in Little Shop Of Horrors. That show is probably the reason I’m pursuing this, and not designing houses.
David Burrowes directs and Joel Horwood stars in That Eye, The Sky by Tim Winton (adapted for the stage by Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo).
Dates: 15 March – 16 April, 2016
Venue: New Theatre