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  • Writer's pictureGreg

The Jasmine Suite Diaries - Day One

In 2023, The Knack Theatre will be producing “The Jasmine Suite” by Michael Olsen. For transparency, education, and mostly entertainment, the director is keeping a diary of all the excitement, pain, and embarrassment that goes on behind the scenes. Join our mailing list to follow along, as well as find out what other exciting shows lie ahead.

2nd December 2022

Well, it is official.

Steve and Lou have gone mad and allowed me to direct a play. Michael Olsen is naive enough to let me direct his play, and The Jasmine Suite is officially in pre-production.

The four of us had a “working lunch” today to discuss my vision, the practical decisions we need to make this early on, and how The Jasmine Suite will fit in the 2023 schedule for The Knack Theatre. Michael is such a generous writer who has welcomed my eccentricity with open arms.

Personally, I’m full of trepidation and excitement. I’m surrounded by skilled professionals, and the imposter syndrome is real. I keep reminding myself that if I continue to surround myself with the best of Melbourne theatre, well, then The Jasmine Suite will succeed despite any failings I might have.

So what is next from here?

We have a general idea that we would like the production to occur at the end of June. So over the next two months, the most important thing will be to lock down a suitable venue. Personally, I think there are not enough small theatre venues in a city of our size, but those that exist are of good quality.

Lou, who will be producing the show, has assured me that she has the business side of it covered, which I could not be more grateful for. We’re looking for those sub-100-seat venues that offer a bit of intimacy but also have the technical features we will need to make this show work. The Knack has worked with several small venues before, so we do have an advantage of experience.

Then it will be casting. Two-handers are wonderful because you get to build strong relationships in such a small team - if the chemistry isn’t there straight away, we have the room to build it. If I can find two good actors who can work with someone a little kooky and dictatorial, we will be able to avoid long rehearsal schedules.

I’m really glad I’m directing this as part of a company rather than on my own (as I have done before). I have access to a pretty impressive database of actors, which is growing all the time, and we know where to put up audition notices to ensure the rest of the community is aware. It's unlikely I will have trouble finding the perfect Kathryn and Richard.

I’m actively avoiding the temptation to “choose from who I know” and go with a traditional audition process. I’m not so naive to think knowing the actor in front of me won’t affect my decisions, and in some ways working with a stranger can be riskier than working with known entities, but there is something incredible about the process of discovery. I know people who would do a good, even great, job, but why would I prevent myself from possibly finding the person who will do an astounding job? Melbourne is chock full of talented actors, and I can’t wait to see who turns up in a few months' time.

Finally, it will be doing some deep exploration of the text. I am one of those directors who believes that I myself need to be “lines down” before the start of any rehearsals, and there are one or two lines that make me say “gee, I’m glad I have access to the writer”.

So yeah, the first day. Fortunately, the second will be next year. Unfortunately, next year is less than thirty days away.

- Greg

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