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ten questions with richard cotter

Richard Cotter with Tricia Youlden in ‘Zabobon’

Richard Cotter is directing and starring with Tricia Youlden in A.R.Gurney’s classic 1988 play LOVE LETTERS  which opens at the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, city on Saturday 14th January 2024. This masthead asked him ten questions.  Unlike many directors, he is a man of few words. SAG squeezed a few out of him. Make of it what you will.

Q. This year you directed The Hound Of The Baskervilles for the Genesians. Your production of Love Letters is their first show for 2024. What draws you to working for this Company which can boast John Bell and Bryan Brown as ‘alumni’?

A. They ask so nicely.

Q. A.R. Gurney’s play LOVE LETTERS is a very well travelled play internationally. Some of Australian theatre’s most accomplished directors and actors have performed it. Don’t you feel just a bit daunted by this kind of history?

A.  No. All great plays  have history.  

Q. Will today’s audiences still be able to relate to a play which is static and comprises extracts of the correspondence between a man and a woman over many years? Isn’t letter writing a thing of the past? Won’t audiences go yawn and say to themselves when is something going to happen?

A. Interesting your choice of the word static. Think of static electricity. It’s sharp and sparky and surprising. Just like this play. It’s a love letter to letter writing and audiences respond to it’s eloquence and heart,

Q. As well as directing this two hander you will also playing Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. Your long time partner, actress Tricia Youlden, is playing Melissa Gardner. Quite a journey to undertake?

A.  A continuing journey

Q. Can you tell us something about your creative team. Who are they are, and what will they be bringing to the production?

A. Cian Byrne will be our  LX collaborator.

Q. You have worked in theatre, in television and in film for many years. What have been some of the highlights of your career?

A. Too many to mention. I have been blessed to work with actors, directors, writers, designers who are not only good at what they do, but are fine human beings. That’s been the rule, not the exception.

Q. You have also written about the arts for many years.  You are an avid reader and book reviewer. What do you look for in a book in order for it to captivate you? Do you have favourite genres, and do you have other genres of writing that you don’t go near? Will new books be written by AI? A doctor friend of mine asked AI to write a love poem for his wife’s birthday in the form of a Shakespeare sonnet. Chat GPT came up with the poem and his wife loved it. Will writers be a thing of the past?

A. Open the pod bay doors.

Q. Film reviewing has also been a great passion of yours. I have seen you in earnest conversations with David Stratton. You have attended and reviewed films at the Sydney Film Festival for many years. What do you look for most in a movie?

A. That magic where everything works – script, direction, performance, production values.

Q. Streaming services and huge tv screens are everywhere now. There’s absolutely no need now for people to leave their lounge room sofa. Maybe going out will be a thing of the past. Do you think that cinemas will die off, soon be a thing of the past?

A. No

Q.  Finally, back to LOVE LETTERS. You have reviewed theatre for a long time. Currently for this publication and for Aussie Theatre.  Is there anything that you would like to say to the reviewers who are coming to opening night? 

A. Hope you enjoy the show


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