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In Conversation with Steven Mitchell Wright

This November we welcome back The Danger Ensemble with their brand new work 'Day After Terrible Day' - a show for "anyone who has loved hard, wholly and without restraint then had it ended, without closure or explanation." We catch up with director and Theatre Works Artistic Associate Steven Mitchell Wright. Q: Can you tell us about the Danger Ensemble and the kind of work you create?

A: The Danger Ensemble is a contemporary and experimental theatre company, we started making work in 2007, though many of us began working together well before that. We believe that theatre is an ever evolving artform and for each work we do we question; What is Theatre now? for an audience now? Our works are typically highly visual and physical but vary greatly in content and form. We believe that theatre should be an exciting, moving and energising experience. We train in somatic and physical methodologies, primarily the Suzuki Method of Actor Training.

Q: What inspired this show and its title Day After Terrible Day? A: I've been interested in Ms Havisham from Great Expectations for sometime - I revisited the novel in 2020 and that lead me down a research rabbit hole and I discovered Emily Eliza Donnithorne. Both figures were seemingly so heartbroken that they removed themselves from society and lived the rest of their days in their home. They were larger than life, eccentric figures and I just found them intriguing. I don't ever approach a work knowing exactly what I want to do with it. I approach a project because I have an attraction, obsession or intrigue around something and I want to become more intimate with it. So, that's what we've done with this project. We've got more intimate with these women, or the ideas of these women, the experience of their love. The idea of being so changed by a singular event (or rather an event not happening) that you choose to change your trajectory. In terms of the title of the show, it's a riff on a quote from Great Expectations, “The agony is exquisite, is it not? A broken heart. You think you will die. But you just keep living. Day after day, after terrible day.”

Q: What's been the most enjoyable part of the creative development process so far?

A: Working with the amazing cast is always a highlight, they work with such rigour and play. I often wonder what our process would look like to an outside eye as the rehearsal room moves rapidly and often without warning from joking hysteria to absurdity to earnestness to beauty to devastation. I'm constantly in awe of their collective ability to take an offer and make it something magical. I think the most memorable moment that springs to mind right now was when the actors were improvising a scene while reading Victorian erotica. I haven't laughed that hard in some time.

Q: What can you tell us about the creative team involved in this production?

A: In the performance ensemble we have Chris Beckey - they are one of the Associate Artistic Directors of The Danger Ensemble, Chris and I have been working together in some capacity since the early 2000s. They are a phenomenal performer, writer, dramaturg and one of the most amazing theatrical minds I know. Polly Sará, I've been working with since 2004 - she is one of the bravest performers I know (and she won't say so but she is also an amazing writer). She has such commitment and integrity. Eidann Glover, we first worked together in 2019 and I fell in love with them then. They have a vulnerability, joy and power to them I rarely see on stage. Deborah Leiser-Moore is also performing with the company for the first time. She believes in and has dedicated her career to a kind Theatre that we believe in as a company. A theatre that is beyond literature that defies singular definition and we're so excited to have her on board. Ben Hughes, who is the other Associate Artistic Director of the company is flying down from Brisbane to do the lighting design - he is one of the best lighting designers in the country and a consummate artist. Ben and I went to high school together and have been collaborating since 1995, that's more projects (and years) than I care to count.

Q: If you could invite anyone to Day After Terrible Day, who would it be and why?

A: Oh, three people spring to mind. In every city I have ever lived there has been this woman, a different woman but they seem connected across time and geography, I've seen her on the street and in the malls, she's dressed to the nines, make up inch-thick, dripping with accessories, her nails are long and painted and she carries herself with the weight of a life thoroughly lived. She's punk as hell and gives zero fucks. Where she has come from and where she is going is a mystery but she moves like a ghost under street lights and fluro tubes - she's unmistakably there but you can't touch her. You know she has stories to tell but no one ever asks her. This show is for her. Secondly, anyone who has loved hard, wholly and without restraint then had it ended, without closure or explanation - Anyone who's body knows that Love but whose brain questions if it were real. Finally, anyone who wants something different from the theatre. Something that television and story telling alone cannot offer. DAY AFTER TERRIBLE DAY By The Danger Ensemble 1-12 November BOOK HERE


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