Connor Oscar Clarke, the director of Daddy Long Legs, wants to the audience to be reminded of what makes them happy
Yesterday, I had a chat to theatremaker and director, Connor Oscar Clarke about his upcoming production of Daddy Long Legs, the debut work of the new independent company, Passion Productions.
Virag: As the debut work of Passion Productions, what was the thought process of programming Daddy Long Legs? Did it appeal to all of the creatives and if so, how?
Connor: I came across Daddy Long Legs by chance about 3 or 4 years ago, a YouTube suggested video for a song called "The Secret to Happiness." It was a great song, so looked up the cast recording and fell in love with it. Then after spending weeks listening to it on repeat, I thought to myself, "This story has to be told." Fast forward 3 years and here we are. As for my other creatives and designers, I got similar account from everyone. They weren't expecting a two-person script, cold-read, to be so good. The story is simple but beautiful and the music flawlessly pulls you into every scene.
Paul Gordon is the master of doing a lot with a little, originally he had a full band scored for Daddy Long Legs. However, he continued to strip back until deciding on a minimalist 3 piece band (Piano, Cello and Guitar) and Paul navigates this simple trio impeccably.
Virag: Are you hoping to tell more stories similar to that of Daddy Long Legs in future productions?
Connor: We have no current plans, though Paul Gordon also wrote the music for Jane Eyre and it's made its way onto my album rotation. Daddy Long Legs is fundamentally unique in its approach. Storytelling through letters, at face value, seems an odd decision but anyone who has read Jean Webster's novel (she wrote Daddy Long Legs in 1912) knows. It's different but it just works.
Virag: In terms of casting, was it difficult to find the performers you were looking for, as its quite an intimate cast with two very distinctive characters.
Finding Jerusha and Jervis was a challenge in its own way. Both characters have a lot of depth to them but as cliché as it is, "when you know, you know." Ella and Shaun make a perfect pairing onstage and I'm very fortunate to be working with them both.
Virag: Were there any risks involved in choosing Daddy Longs Legs as your debut show?
Connor: Oh yes, even though Daddy Long Legs was popular in the US, London and even having very successful seasons in Korea. The show isn't widely known in Australia. So, getting people excited about a show they've never heard, being produced by a company they've never heard of is quite the challenge.
It might have been a smarter choice to do Les Miserable or Wicked. Something that's an easier sell.
Virag: As an audience member, when I see a show I love to be entertained but, more importantly, I like to leave the theatre thinking about the world of their characters and drawing connections between there's and mine. What would you like the audience to get out of this theatrical experience?
Connor: I'd like the audience to be reminded of what makes them happy. The show centers around Jerusha Abbott, her growth as a woman and human being is the show. I love the ideal Jerusha represents. She's an intelligent, strong willed and passionate. She allows herself to feel and make mistakes and joy in little things and love, not just romantic, but everyday love. That, I think we can all learn from.
Jerusha is the kind of person I want to be and her story is intoxicating and will connect to everyone differently. Each audience member will see in her something they want to see in themselves.
Show: Daddy Long Legs
Presented by Passion Productions
Directed by Connor Oscar Clarke
Tickets are available via the Brisbane Powerhouse's website