On the eve of the Dublin Theatre Festival, we had the chance to talk to Don Wycherley about Hooked, which he directed and is touring during the Festival. It is a funny and alarming look at the realities of modern small-town Ireland. You can see the results below…
Hooked is a story about secrets. Is it important not to reveal the secrets too early?
Yes, Hooked is about secrets and the thing about secrets is that you want them to remain just that; ‘Secret’, however that doesn’t always work out and that’s when things get interesting and the drama unfolds. Hooked opens the lid on a rural HotPot of secrets and lies delivering a three course meal for all to enjoy!
Hooked has an impressive cast, how was it to work with them?
In doing a new play the cast is all important to the director. I had worked with Stevie Blount and Tina kellegher before and knew what they were capable of so when they agreed to come onboard I was over the moon. I knew what I was looking for with the younger Lydia and started asking around and people like; Andy and Laura in The Viking and casting director Louise Kiely were very generous with their suggestions. My enquires led me to the beautiful and talented Seana Kerslake to whom I offered the job straight away after she read for myself and Gillian Grattan (Writer of Hooked)
This is a travelling production, visiting four venues during its run. Does this alter the way the story can be told?
The touring nature of the show doesn’t alter the telling of the story but does mean that from a lighting/sound and set design perspective we have to keep it simple, sharp and not too elaborate, therefore easing the ‘Get In and Get Outs’ to the respective theatres. That said, even if the show wasn’t touring, I still would have opted for such simplicity, as it serves the story well.
So, you ‘travelled light’ in terms of the props and set?
The show is relatively light in terms of props and design but still requires a transit van and about a hour or so to set up, perhaps more, as we haven’t done it yet! But I’m sure our Stage Manger Tom will get into the routine very quickly.
Is it more difficult for the actors to try and create the setting for themselves?
Yes indeed the actors tell the story and create the world of HOOKED but the set by Rebekka Duffy, lighting by Eoin Lennon and costume by Niamh Lunny add a visual layer reinforcing and consolidating Gillian’s writing and the actors’ creation.
How do the audiences vary between locations? Are some locations known as more difficult than others?
Audiences always vary from night to night as well as from venue to venue. Sure, you do hear stories about lack lustre responses from such and such a town or city but the reality is that every audience is an individual organism with laughers, non laughers, coughers, mobile phone users, and toffee eaters. Our job is to reel them in and get them ‘Hooked’.
How easy is the transition from actor to director? Which do you prefer doing, or will you always change between the two?
As an actor the focus is your role and what happens on stage. There is a little more to think about as a director and more meetings. That said, I always want the play to be the best it can be and that is even more true as a director. As an actor you work in collaboration with the other actors and for me directing should be the same. You endeavour to get your ideas across whilst always being open and ready to accept a better one from the experienced actors on the floor. I really enjoy directing and will definitely do more but relish the focus of acting too much to forsake it entirely, methinks.
What is your next project?
I am available for work from the 10th of October. No reasonable offers refused!
Axis:Ballymun: Sept 25 – Oct 3
Civic Theatre Tallaght: Sept 29 – Oct 3
Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Oct 8 & 9
Draíocht, Blanchardstown, Oct 10