The Melbourne Theatre Company and Faculty of Arts present a special alumni offer for 'Endgame'
Directed by Arts alumnus Sam Strong, and starring master craftsman Colin Friels, this most recent production of Beckett's renowned black burlesque masterpiece brings classic absurdist theatre back to the mainstage.
In a bare room where two windows look out on desolation, four little lives go on. In this petty realm, Hamm is enthroned, blind and old, immobile and unmoved. His aged parents, Nagg and Nell, own nothing but their fading memories. His servant Clov, upstanding and downtrodden, hobbles about performing his ritual duties, keeping things going for all of them. Four pieces in someone else's game, playing out their final moves.
Tickets are limited. Please book early to avoid disappointment.
We recently caught up with the Director of Endgame, the MTC's talented Associate Artistic Director, Arts Alumnus Sam Strong, to learn more about his path from the Faculty of Arts to the Directors chair.
What is your current role? Can you tell us about a recent project ?
A key part of my role is directing 2-3 plays a year at the Melbourne Theatre Company. Since my commencement in 2013 I have directed Other Desert Cities, The Crucible, Private Lives, The Speechmaker and The Sublime. In total these shows have been seen by over 100,000 Melbournians. My next project is the Samuel Beckett classic, Endgame, one of my favourite plays and a play that I first saw performed in the underground car park at the University.
How did your degree and time at Melbourne University contribute to your career development?
My undergraduate arts degree allowed me to plunge deeper into the canon of dramatic literature, from the Greeks, through Shakespeare, to Chekhov, Strindberg and Ibsen, then up to more modern dramatists like Pinter and Beckett. Your undergraduate time lays the foundations for your eventual career by introducing you to the great plays you might someday direct, whether it's the following year in the university car park or 10 years time at the MTC. My law degree provided me with a rigour and attention to detail that has been useful in my work as a dramaturg and a commerciality that has been useful for my time as an Artistic Director. My time as a postgraduate studying directing at the VCA equipped me with more specific craft skills, a peer group of artists, and a determination to pursue a career as an artist.
What aspect of your Arts degree interested you most?
The chance to spend time in the company of the seminal works of dramatic literature (or for that matter in the company of any fabulous storytellers). To make great art, it's vital to understand the traditions and the departures from those traditions that have come before you.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Melbourne?:
The University of Melbourne was the logical choice for me as it allowed me to indulge all my passions. When I finished school I didn't know whether I wanted to be a theatre director, a barrister, an historian or a jazz musician. Fortunately for the world the jazz gigs didn't last past 2nd year, I enjoyed taking the history passion as far as an honours year, I ended up practicing as a lawyer for a couple of years, but the directing won out in the end.
What did you enjoy most about studying at the University of Melbourne?
It's a trite answer but I love the geography of the campus and the sense of tradition – that you are inhabiting a place that has been inhabited by generations before you.
Were you involved in student groups, volunteering or other activities while studying?
Like everyone I dabbled in a bit of student theatre and short courses. But at the time I was probably too focused on a legal career. If I had my time again I would spend more time in the Union House Theatre!
And finally, how did you transition from study to employment?
I assistant directed at the MTC straight out of the VCA and again a year or two later. That experience confirmed my interest in new writing and play development, which has been a large part of my career. It also affirmed that I wanted to direct plays for the MTC and the mainstage.