Random at Downstairs Belvoir

Random at the Downstairs Belvoir theatre opened last weekend and stars Zahra Newman in this fast paced and poignant one woman show about how quickly our 'normal' can descend into tragedy. This week Mich asked Director Leticia Caceres all about the play, the challenges in returning to the show and what she hopes the audience will walk away with after this powerful production. Have a read below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having directed Random before – what do you think were your major challenges in bringing this play back to the stage 10 years later and having it still reverberate with today’s audiences?

The question of relevance was never an issue for us. We were very confident it would still strike a huge emotional chord. For us, the challenge has always been how to design a world for the play to live in without imposing or getting in the way of the acting or the writing. Every element, from set to costume, to lighting to sound was scrutinized in great detail to ensure only the absolute essential was there merely to support Zahra and the writing. It was about trusting the we could create an emotional playing space that would support mood and give a hint of place, but still allow for the audience to partake in the magic of conjuring and imagining, as Zahra guides you through a tragic moment in time.

In what ways do you feel the basic premise of this play is still a relevant and troubling issue today?

The central theme in this work is grief. Grief is a fundamental human emotion that all of us will have to experience throughout our lives. The basic premise is about an act of random violence that shatters a very ordinary family apart. This is also very relatable. But what resonates most strongly about this work, particularly in the era of the BLACK LIVES MATTERS movement, is the how an act of random violence can impact a black family and community. Grief by certain members of our community is quickly politizised by those that are supposed to help (police, media, government). debbie tucker green keeps the play firmly in the personal, depicting the devastation of a family dealing with the loss of one of its loved ones, but she skilfully presents a reality that is constantly in a state of tension with a white supremist society.

How did you find your perfect actress to play all these roles? Is it very different directing a one woman play with the character playing a number of roles to a one woman play with a single character?

Zahra and I have a long history of collaboration. Zahra had helped to develop a work that also involved transformation with writer Angela Betzien and I (a play called War Crimes), so I knew how skilled she was. But when I found Random in a bookstore in London that was specifically for a Caribbean Actress, I knew this play would be perfect for her. One person shows almost always involve some form of transformation, whether it’s full transformation of complete characters, or quoting of characters, like if I tell you a story and I enact my mum’s voice, but don’t become my mother. Rarely do you hear a story that doesn’t involve referencing other people, so I was prepared for the task of shaping many characters through one body. Zahra and I worked very intimately to find definitive and clean gestures and shapes that would swiftly signify to the audience who she was playing. It was a very fun and meticulous process, that you would only do in this kind of work.

 

As a director what do you look for when deciding what plays you think would be good to put on for Australian audiences. I always say, if the work doesn’t have the potential to change the world, why bother staging it. For me, it’s all about urgent themes and unforgettable characters.

What do you think or hope the audience will take away from this performance?

Compassion.

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS

Favourite production you have ever seen?

Honor Bound by Nigel Jamieson

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

Barcelona

 

Dream show to direct?

I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

 

Plays or musicals?

Plays.

 

What’s next for you after this show?

I’m in Qld right now developing a show for LaBoite Theatre with Ngoc Phan, a beautiful actor/writer who is accounting the experience of her family as the first Vietnamese refugees to come to Alice Springs. It’s EPIC. And I’m currently working on a Web Series with Michele Lee. 

Leticia Caceres

Zahra Newman - Random - Photo Credit Daniel Boud

Zahra Newman - Random - Photo Credit Daniel Boud

Zahra Newman - Random - Photo Credit Daniel Boud

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