The Audition at La Mama Theatre

The Audition is a multi-authored work that interrogates the protocols and power relationships of the audition process to uncover what it means to seek asylum. The asylum seeker shares something in common with the actor.  They are experts at being patient with a force that keeps them endlessly waiting without having their hopes dashed. The stage is a country in itself. With its own rules and regulations. Or lack of them.

Carly spoke with Director and Dramaturg Irine Vela about this urgent work and why such bold stories demand to be told. Read the full interview below:

The Audition seeks to analyse the process of selection – be it for the stage as every actor will have experienced, or into a new country as tens of thousands of refugees must face annually. What inspired this work and this concept and how did the process of bringing together the group of writers, being that The Audition is a multi-authored work, come about? 


The impetus for The Audition was inspired by a couple of artists we have worked who are also asylum seekers.  One of those artists creative life began in the underground rap studios of Tehran. It ended there with his arrest by the Basjian (morality police) and subsequent incarceration. He was 16 years old.  Forced to seek asylum he risked a perilous journey by sea to Australia followed by isolation in being of an "uncertain status". In many ways he inspired Outer Urban Projects to create a show that could delve deeper into the experiences of the refugee, in particular those who are also artists. Behrouz Boochani comes to mind. Another inspiration in my father. He was a refugee from World War 2 and the subsequent geopolitical changes after that war.  After years in refugee camps he was given passage Australia in 1949.  


What do you hope to say about the concept of selection and the ‘protocols and powers that permit or veto entry into our country and onto our stages.’ Why do you believe it is important to use your platform of theatre to raise this discussion and in what ways do you feel that The Audition may open minds or provoke questions, etc? 


Outer Urban Projects is a bold performing arts company that creates new forms of contemporary performance imagined from the life experiences of young emerging artists from the outer northern suburbs. We give voice to the unexpressed aspirations and creative potential of ghettoised, culturally diverse emerging artists whose origins span five continents.   The conceit of The Audition came from the direct experience from our community. The company’s remit is to take these powerful stories to audiences in works and as provocations within the national dialogue.   


Can you tell us more about the group of authors who have put The Audition together and the range of styles that you have brought together to this piece to tell this story. 


Outer Urban Projects is no stranger to multiauthored works. Most of our works are multiauthored!  Given this was always going to be a text based work I approached writers within our the Outer Urban community with direct experience of migration and seeking asylum as well and writers from the broader theatre community I have worked with before. When I approached these writers. Some of whom are highly respected in the theatre community (Patricia Cornelius, Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves and Tes Lyssiotis), I was emboldened by their excitement around the concept of the work and their delight in taking part in the company’s production.


What do you hope audiences are thinking about or discussing long after they leave the theatre? 


They will see a unique theatre work that explores the universality and particularity of the experience of gaining acceptance – or recognising merit where it is due.  Each writer brings a unique language and world view to their work. I hope the audience comes out of the show thinking about concepts such as respect, empathy, history and discrimination.







Favourite production you have ever seen? 

Taylor Mac at the Melbourne Festival

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

Greece and Albania

Dream show to direct? 

Oklahoma, Jesus Christ Superstar

Plays or musicals? 


A hobby you have beyond the theatre? 

Playing and learning Oud

What’s next for you after this show? 

Remount of the production Anthem for Sydney and Perth. A show I created with Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves and Christos Tsiolkas

The Audition opens at La Mama Theatre on November 13, 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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