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Centre Stage with… Ben Thomas


What do you hope people take away from your show?

I mainly hope that people feel like they’ve seen something a little bit different, something that’s interesting. Obviously I hope the show stays with the audience long after they’ve left the theatre, but with this show we’re trying to experiment. If the nicest thing someone has to say is ‘well I’ve never seen anything quite like that before’, we’ve succeeded.

What kinds of works are you most drawn to?

I’m drawn to works that strive to capture and utilise the magic of theatre. It’s a unique medium, with limitations but also endless possibilities. I want to see something that makes the most of these possibilities, something which needs to be done live, onstage, in front of an audience. I’m most excited when I feel like the audience and the production are connected.

What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?

The impossible question. I was lucky enough to see Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem in London, with Mark Rylance. I got tickets on a whim, with zero expectations. It blew me away. Not just the production value and performances, which were outstanding, but the sheer passion and power behind the whole thing. I don’t know how they did it night after night. It was a tour de force. That was a brilliant show, but other shows I’ve seen have stayed with me for other reasons too.

What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?

There’s the personal achievement, obviously. I enjoy feeling like I’m contributing to the diversity of arts and culture in Perth. Moreover I like providing experiences for people. When I get a sense of what people might take away from the show, what’s effective, then I get excited for people to experience that and excited that I’m helping engineer that experience for people.

What excites you about Perth?

I think in the last few years Perth has really come into its own. I think it’s finally shaking off its negative labels, particularly with respect to the arts. Gradually, Perth audiences are becoming more discerning and eager for new experiences, and that will only mean that more and more interesting and engaging work gets made here, or brought here. I feel like Perth now holds its own against the east coast, and what’s exciting is that I think the rest of the country, and the world, is beginning to understand that as well.


Find out more about So You Think You’re Charlie Smith here.

Image by Daniel James Grant.