Director Shane Bosher on the diverse Auckland theatre scene

by India Hendrikse / 19 July, 2017

Shane Bosher. Photography / Stephen Langdon

People to watch

Shane Bosher - Director

You know life’s pretty darn swell when you’re given bucket-list wishes without being at death’s door.

One of Auckland’s most talented directing exports, Shane Bosher, has been lured back from Sydney by Silo Theatre’s artistic director, Sophie Roberts, to help celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. She presented him with the question: “What plays are on your bucket list?” Bosher picked two from his list of 20, and is back in Auckland to direct them.

Bosher left his role as artistic director of Silo in 2013, having held the job for more than a decade. He now rents a $380-a-week room in Rushcutters Bay. Fresh from presenting Mike Bartlett’s witty take on modern love, Cock, at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, Bosher is now bringing the work here, along with the starkly contrasting A Streetcar Named Desire.

Bosher jumped at the opportunity to direct the Tennessee Williams masterpiece, feeling it aligned with Silo’s challenger ethos. “Even though it’s from 1947, it has such extraordinary things to say about how we deal with each other and what happens when combustive forces come into our lives,” he says.

For Bosher, relevance — both social and political — is paramount. “I’ve been very clear that I don’t want to create a chocolate-box nostalgic production of a classic,” he says of Streetcar.

Bosher compares the play’s setting — in post-World War II New Orleans — to the contemporary Donald Trump era. “That culture of post-world-war is kind of very similar to Trump’s America in a way, in that the people that served in WWII were told that they would inherit the earth,” he says.

With Cock, Bosher was drawn to its focus on identity and how that is defined.

“It is about sexuality, it’s about belonging, it’s about power, it’s about how we deal with identity within the rules of living,” he says.

Time away spent being a little fish in a big sea has given Bosher a fresh perspective on Auckland’s theatre scene. The consumers of theatre have changed, he says.

“For a long time in Auckland, when we talked about what the audience was, it was a persona named Cynthia. She was 52, lived in Remuera or Kohimarama and she quite often went out with her friends,” he says. “You also now have audiences who I call liberal sophisticates, who 20 years ago didn’t necessarily think theatre was for them.”

Though financial motivations played a part in his coming back to Auckland — “whilst I’ve been really successful over there, it’s still not enough to supplement income” — Bosher is also drawn to New Zealand’s open-mindedness in storytelling.

“I think that there is a greater conversation here about diverse storytelling than there is in Australia,” he says. “Over there, racism is worn with its heart on its sleeve — it’s institutionalised racism — whereas here, audiences are being exposed to the work of Briar Grace-Smith and Hone Kouka and Victor Rodger on a regular basis.”

 

Cock, Herald Theatre, July 20-August 12 and A Streetcar Named Desire, Q Theatre, August 24-September 16, silotheatre.co.nz

This is published in the July- August 2017 issue of Metro.

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