Graduating from the NIDA Directors Course in 1988, Adam Cook has since directed over 100 productions across Australia, London, Canada and the United States, for the Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane Festivals, Melbourne Theatre Company, Company B Belvoir, Sydney Theatre Company, Ensemble, Sydney Opera House Trust, NIDA, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, La Boite, Q Theatre, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Opera Australia, Griffin, Bell Shakespeare, OzOpera, Playbox, Festival of the Dreaming, Windmill Performing Arts, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, City of London Festival and the Barbican International Theatre Event (BITE).
Adam was Artistic Director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia for 2005-2012. Adam directed Much Ado About Nothing for Sport for Jove and most recently has adapted and directed Henrik Ibsen's classic A Doll's House which plays at the Seymour Centre from the 17th July. With the brisk pace and plotting of a thriller, Ibsenís tale of intrigue, fraud and betrayal exposes a world where duty, power and hypocrisy rule. Hugely controversial when it was first performed in 1879, A Dollís House has lost none of its power as a bold vision of feminist selfhood and rediscovery.
How does Ibsenís play resonate with audiences today?
A classic is news that stays news. Has any idea relating to our shared humanity ever ceased to be relevant? There are antiquated, outmoded ideas, for sure, and Ibsen wrote about their destructive power Ė a lot - but the world is filled with people who still believe in them. Itís a play full of resonant ideas for today - about forcing your beliefs on others, and not allowing them to find their own way in the world. Itís a play about intolerance, about inflexible modes of thinking. About the fear of telling the truth. About the transformative power of love; the shocking and exhilarating opportunity of freedom, about finding the courage to ask questions, and about the audacity to question everything. Updating a classic isnít the only way to make it speak to a contemporary audience. Thereís a richer dialogue to be had if you set it in its original period. Is that how they thought Ďback thení? Have we evolved in our thinking? Do we really treat each other any differently?
Does the costume design for this production reflect the original time setting of the play, or have you chosen to emphasise the relevance of its themes with contemporary production design?
Iíve chosen to set it in its period of composition . I think the playís global popularity is testament enough to its continued relevance. Womenís clothing of the late 19th century didnít allow a lot of freedom to move. Thatís also what the playís about. There are also crucial plot devices that wouldnít happen in a contemporary setting.
How did you go about the casting process for Nora? What were you looking for?
I needed to find an actress with a keen intelligence who could explore and reveal the multi-faceted complexities of the role. Someone who is charismatic on stage, unpredictable, and adorable, who could surprise and unsettle the audience with the choices she makes, and endear herself to them with the ways in which she confronts the thrilling challenges that besiege her. I found that actor in Matilda Ridgway. We had a coffee and a chat, we read some scenes together, and I knew pretty quickly Iíd found my Nora.
What were the challenges involved in putting on this production?
Theyíre ongoing! Itís a very suspenseful play, so making sure we keep the tension up is crucial. And being truthful to its psychological subtleties and intricacies, thatís very important too.
Your previous production, Much Ado About Nothing , was a comedy. Do you have a preference for thriller or comedy?
No, I just love to work on wonderful plays. Iíve always had extremely broad taste when it comes to the work I want to direct. Iíve directed many comedies, and many intense dramas full of painful emotions. My preference always is for a high-quality script that will attract exciting actors who want to work on it with me, all for the purpose of creating a great show for our audiences.
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