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Centre Stage…with Will O’Mahony

Name: Will O’Mahony // Role: Director + Writer + Performer // Show:  Great White

WA seems to have a bit of a shark obsession due to the spate of recent attacks. Are you similarly fixated by them?

It’s kind of worst nightmare kind of stuff for me. Imagine the helplessness and terror of getting trapped in the water with a one tonne Great White. I think now with all of our tech wizardry we feel slightly immortal and that’s why maybe there is something incredibly beautiful about that kind of confrontation.

Your show is about the ocean, but it’s going to be in a black box theatre a long way from the beach…is recreating that seaside feeling a challenge?

It’s a unique design challenge. We’re relying on our audience to help us out a bit with that one. We’ve tried to capture the feeling of suspension that comes with swimming out in the deep. Hopefully we’re able to evoke an ocean in a way that surpasses and transcends the real thing.

Jaws or Deep Blue Sea? Roy Schneider or Samuel L. Jackson?

They’re both just great films, aren’t they? Compare their famous lines: ‘We need a bigger boat’ vs ‘The sharks are getting smarter’. But there ‘s something particularly funny, heartbreaking and satisfying about watching Samuel L Jackson get killed off half way through Deep Blue Sea.

Who are your major influences? What sort of work do you strive to create?

Artistic influences probably include Annie Baker, Chekhov, Etgar Keret and Murukami. Otherwise my family. They’re a funny bunch of people – very conflicted. I guess I’m looking to create work that captures people at their most human. I recently explained to a friend that my goal is to introduce the audience to characters who live on in the memory long after the curtain.

This is your first show after the huge success of The Improved. Is that daunting?

Every show is daunting. Maybe this time we will have to compete with higher audience expectations. I’m not sure. I take comfort knowing that Great White is (at least to me) very different. If The Improved was savoury then Great White is sweet. Can you compare a cheesecake to a steak? Maybe in a more perfect world…

Any irrational hates or fears?

Working on a laptop not connected to its power source. There’s something sad about the computer getting tired.

There have been a bunch of changes over the last few years in Perth. What has been the biggest or best one in your opinion?

Yarn bombing.

What was the first performance you were ever in?

Grease Lightning with my siblings. I played Kinickie. Broke my Dad’s comb. It was worth it.

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