Reality hit in So You Think You’re Charlie Smith

Ben Thomas and Jackson Used. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Ben Thomas and Jackson Used. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

YEARS of watching reality television has paid off for sandpaperplane co-founder Jackson Used who is directing the independent theatre company’s fourth production, So You Think You’re Charlie Smith.

“We knew from the start that I wanted to direct this one,” Used said.

“Some of the reality TV I’ve watched is ridiculous and others I get totally sucked in to, so I was itching to have a crack.”

Used co-wrote the play with theatre company co-founder Ben Thomas, who directed their 2017 Fringe World Festival experimental musical Fairybread.

The pair met while studying at UWA and working on University Dramatic Society productions before Used transferred to WAAPA to pursue a performance making course, graduating in 2015.

They started sandpaperplane in 2014 as a platform to make their own work.

“It started as an idea to create original, engaging and sometimes experimental work as a company,”Used said.

“But it now also focuses on developing the voice of young artists or young creatives too.”

Used has had his own mentors in Finn O’Branagain and Will O’Mahoney while working on So You Think You’re Charlie Smith.

He met O’Branagain through a Playwriting Australia and The Blue Room Theatre dramaturgy training program, while O’Mahoney was already a mentor from Used’s WAAPA days.

“I got in touch and showed them some of our ideas while we were pitching the show and they were happy to get onboard,” Used said.

“I think with this piece in particular, there’s some really interesting thematic content and it’s hard, so I’m really working with those guys to help me extract the heart of it and make the most engaging version I can for the audience.”

So You Think You’re Charlie Smith follows three contestants on a reality tv show trying to withstand the manipulation of the producer and host who are intent on getting the most engaging drama out of them.

“We’re playing here with the idea of identity and who we are in the social media age,” Used said.

“It’s got a lot to do with how pervasive reality television is, it’s such an enormous genre, and how far it’s come in the last 15 years.

“A lot of the things I want to talk about with this show is how fast we consume content these days in the 24 hour news cycle.

“We just don’t have the same attention span or interest in consuming a whole breadth of information; instead one image can be enough. We’ve become a very visually focused society.”


What: So You Think You’re Charlie Smith

Where: The Blue Room Theatre

When: April 11 to 29