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Here we have Jane Yonge, Masters of Theatre Arts, highly regarded and successful New Zealand theatre practitioner. Hey Jane, how are you?
(laughs) I’m good!
What’s your favourite thing about a career in theatre?
Getting to work with heaps of different people. This morning I had a Theatre 204 rehearsal, and now I’m meeting with you, and after this I’m going to meet with the council about a project I’m doing with Jo Randerson later on this year. I’m constantly meeting new people.
As a director, is there a specific way you like to work, or start when creating a show?
Interestingly, before I went to drama school I always thought the director had to be the person standing at the front of the room, yelling or like being the leader. So I tried that way at drama school and my supervisor was like, “what are you doing?” Recently I’ve been thinking a director should be leading from behind, holding the vision but acting as a facilitator guiding collaborators in a process. I call this directing style “democratic process.”
Do you have any favourite directors you have worked with or want to?
I love working with Jo Randerson. I assistant directed with her for White Elephant and she is the best collaborator, she really listens. She said the other that if someone offers an idea, even it she doesn’t think it looks good, she’ll just let it run because she wants to see what will happen—it’s all about listening and trying.
Do you have any favourite writers?
I really like Gary Henderson, he’s great. He was the script mentor for the Young and Hungry play that I’m doing, and he gave feedback through dramaturgy, which I’ve never really heard of before. It wasn’t just like talking about the play and the characters, but actually the function of characters within the play and what had to happen when and why. I named my car after him! He’s called Gary Henderson.
What are the differences between theatre in Auckland and theatre in Wellington?
I was up there earlier this year. There’s more money. Companies like Auckland Theatre Company and Silo feel like big professional theatre companies. Up in Auckland it feels like people are wanting to push more boundaries. I think we want that in Wellington as well, but there’s this exit of people going to Auckland to try and make it.
Why aren’t there many women directors on a global scale? What should we do to encourage and support their growth of theatre?
I think Wellington actually has many successful women practitioners. Women are realizing that they’re operating within a patriarchal sort of structure, so we are looking at how to break out of it and interrogate it and ask why are these structures like this? How can we change them? It’s more of a lack of acknowledgement and not really a thing of “oh we need female directors.”
Any promotions for upcoming work?
My Young and Hungry play coming up called: Bloody Hell Jesus Get your Own Friends! That’ll be fun.
And finally, what will Jane Yonge be doing in 2060??
I’m going to be drunk. Kidding!
I really want to own my own theatre space. I think by then I will have gone overseas depending on where is growing or big or interesting. I’d love to have a theatre space that had a couple of resident companies who would perform a show each season.
Upcoming must-see shows
When: April 12–16, @ 6.30pm
Where: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Who: Nisha Madhan (creator and performer)
“Part Kafka-esque comedy part Skull and Crossbones secret society… cleansing, exuberant, and wickedly wry…” –The Pantograph Punch
If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming
When: April 12–16, @ 8.30pm
Where: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Who: Julia Croft (performer and creator) and Virginia Frankovich (director).
“A work that goes beyond the thoughtful into the sublime and occasionally in to the surreal…Croft doesn’t hold back.” –Lexie Matheson, Theatreview