Interview with the director: Sam Coward
Sunday 17th April
Influence opened in Noosa on Friday night. You’ve had 3 sold-out performances to start the season. How do you feel?
Very satisfied, especially considering where the show is at, where ticket sales are at and the level at which the public and critical responses have been. We’re in a good place!
Were there any obstacles or hiccups to overcome to get to this stage?
It’s been a relatively painless process. Illness at the eleventh hour made me a little nervous but generally speaking, with the level of competence in my cast and the level of wisdom in Williamson’s words, it all went pretty smoothly.
Opening Night highlights?
It was the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to sit in the bio box and see the audience’s immediate reactions and feel the buzz – it was electrifying and very satisfying.
So what’s your role during the run?
Because I’m a control freak and because, for the technical accuracy of this show, a degree of intimacy with the script was required, I decided I wanted to manually operate the lights for Influence.
When did you stop giving notes?
Today. Today the show reached a level that I felt couldn’t be enhanced or improved upon. This is not to say that I won’t be giving any further notes during the run, this just means I’m giving no more notes, at this stage, until further notice.
What’s your favourite thing about this show?
I would have to say that’s it’s probably that the end result is so close to the vision I had from the outset. This production has stayed true to the original picture and it’s exciting to see that a) we’ve been able to do that and b) other people like it too.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have put somebody else in the box early enough to learn the cues.
I really think the time invested in character early on is shining through now. We used the time we had very well. The performances are genuine.
I’ve felt very confident, almost relaxed, which is really rare. Usually tech week is all horror but it was seamless. It’s been a relatively easy ride. I feel like I just had to sell the vision and then discuss characters with the cast, design…in fact, the biggest part of my job was at the front end.
The playwright, David Williamson, is attending on the final night, a special gala evening to celebrate his 40 years’ involvement at Noosa Arts Theatre on April 30th. How do you feel about him seeing the show?
I’m very excited about that actually, because from our first discussions with him, he was intrigued as to how we were going to do this. Even Michael Futcher acknowledged that he’s not heard of anyone trying to do a Williamson in this way. I’m interested to get David’s reaction and I hope we can do his 40 Year Celebration justice. I’m quietly confident that we will. The way in which we are staging Influence is truly honouring the text and trusting that Australia’s greatest playwright is acknowledged as such for a reason. I don’t have to hide anything or do anything with smoke and mirrors because it’s enough on its own. And while I’m arrogant, I’m not arrogant enough to think there’s anything I can do with it that will improve on what’s already there. So with a text and a cast of this caliber how could I go wrong?
What’s next for you?
Hmmm. It’s a mystery.
David Williamson’s Influence continues at Noosa Arts Theatre until April 30th. To enquire about any remaining tickets, please call the box office (07) 5449 9343