Joe Lui making poetry with Finn O’Branagain’s Selkie at The Blue Room Theatre


Joe Lui. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d452254
Joe Lui. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d452254

IT is rare for Renegade Productions founder Joe Lui to read a play and immediately feel the need to turn it into a production.

But that is exactly how the director reacted to playwright Finn O’Branagain’s Selkie.

“I think a director making a play is like making your own poetry with someone else,” Lui said.

“And when you find those moments where you think you can speak through this person and this person through you, it’s pretty magical.”

A selkie is a creature of Gaelic mythology that exists as a seal in water and can shed its sealskin to assume human form on land.

Lui, who is also known in the theatre community for his talent as a writer, designer and composer, said a lot of his works heavily involved mythological elements, phenomena and stories as a way of examining the present.

“I, however, tend to have a style that is more brash and didactic,” Lui said.

“When I read Selkie, the similarity was there with the myth being looked at in a contemporary way, and examining really important political issues through myth, but I loved that it had a subtle and beauty to it.

“Finn is as passionate and vociferous as me politically and very much sees art in the same way I see art, as a way to incite social change.

“I think perhaps I have more of the tint of the demagogue in me and she is a more subversive voice.”

Lui said he liked to describe the show as an examination of modern personal and cultural relationships told through the lens of a really simple love story.

He has collaborated with choreographer Laura Boynes and dancers Kynan Hughes and Yilin Kong, who have added contemporary dance to the theatre production.

“Reading the piece, it brought out this need for a lot of movement which is actually quite unlike any of the other works I’ve done,” Lui said.

“The biggest challenge working on this production has probably been trying to hold the entire thing in my head.

“Actors require such fine details, and so do dancers, but on a completely different scale.

“And juggling those two pathways simultaneously in my head hasn’t been a challenge that’s been fraught, but it is something constantly in my mind.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Selkie

Where: The Blue Room Theatre

When: April 12 to 30

Tickets: www.blueroom.org.au