NAME: Levon J Polinelli // ROLE: Director // SHOW: The Edge
What do you hope people take away from your show?
Ultimately it would be fantastic if people could take away a greater openness around discussions concerning mental health and their own wellbeing. I’m very conscious of not wanting the show to feel heavy, or daunting, especially considering the subject matter; so I really hope it isn’t a barrier to entry for people. It’s such an uplifting show, and a very human one, so I want as many as possible to see it because I strongly believe it posits a lot of questions and thoughts that will (hopefully) help open up dialogue. While things like RUOK Day do good work, it really needs to be something year-round; and I hope that in some small way The Edge helps.
What made you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in theatre?
Theatre was a lateral move for me; my background is in film, and my first dabbling in live performance was through directing and producing stand-up comedy shows at Fringe World. While some may not think of comedy this way, it really is a monologue when you break it down – particularly the comedy I’m drawn to, which tells an overall story around a central theme, revealing a growth and change in the performer. From there, I brought ‘Werewolf Priest!’ to the Blue Room, and it really ignited the joy of theatre in me. There’s an instant reaction to work, and a particular energy of having a story unfold in the same room as an audience that cinema doesn’t have.
Where do you see theatre and performance 10 years from now?
Hopefully better funded! That’s half a joke. I’d also like to see newer and more dynamic works getting the attention they deserve, and being able to grow and develop into bigger platforms – it would be truly fantastic to see a new work get to take to the big stage, and not the same old musicals and shows we’ve all seen a million times starring the same old washed up TV actors (that said, if any washed up TV actors want to be in one of my shows, call me).
What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?
The immediate reaction of an audience. Being able to… I guess the word is ‘manipulate’ but it has so many negative connotations… but being able to make a whole group of people feel one thing, or react one way, is an amazing thing. Getting people fully engaged in a story or with characters or a moment, and eliciting an emotional response, is truly incredible – especially when it’s reactions you don’t expect. Finding out a moment is funny to an audience, or sad, when you thought it would be something else can give you a new appreciation or insight to a work, and also adds this element of excitement with the unpredictability of live theatre. Every audience is different, and every performance is different, so no matter how meticulously you plan you’re going to get at least something new every night.
Do you have any unusual performance rituals?
I have a slightly odd one, where at some point during the rehearsal or bump in period, I have to watch All That Jazz by Bob Fosse. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about that movie that works as a good luck charm; and I am also fully aware that by stating this in public I’ve now more than likely completely jinxed myself and everything is doomed.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Buy Google stock.
29 May – 16 June
More information and tickets here