Irine Vela on The Audition

Presented by Outer Urban Projects, The Audition is a new work that parallels an actor’s audition process with that of refugees seeking asylum.

Irine Vela

Lead by director Irine Vela, The Audition is a multi-authored work by writers Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Cornelius, Tes Lyssiotis, Wahibe Moussa, Milad Norouzi, and Sahra Davoudi. The play cleverly contrasts two struggles of belonging, patience and uncertain outcomes by examining the power dynamics of what it means to seek asylum.

Irine is a composer, artistic director, and creative producer. Her work has a strong focus on bringing diverse voices to the Australian arts scene, and has collaborated with many iconic Australian performers, writers, and directors. As Artistic Director for Outer Urban Projects, Irine has conceptualised, originated, and enabled an impressive list of new works including Poetic License (fourtyfivedownstairs, 2017), Grand DiVisions (Melbourne Festival, 2015) and suBurBan exchange (Melbourne Recital Centre, 2011). Other past collaborations include the acclaimed Who’s Afraid of the Working Class (with Andrew Bovell, Christos Tsiolkas and Melissa Reeves) and Do Not Go Gentle (with Patricia Cornelius).

Sahra Davoodi | Photo by Miguel Rios

Tell me a bit about your relationship with theatre. Where did your interest in dramaturgy and directing begin?

I first became interested in Direction and dramaturgy as a result of my experience as a creator of music drama/theatre works and in working as a composer and musician in Melbourne’s theatre scene from the mid 80’s onwards. But when I became Artistic Director of Outer Urban Projects I was propelled in to a position where I had not only stage our works in production, but also lead a development process to co-devise work with our community of young emerging artists from many genres and art forms.

You’re collaborating with some of Australia’s most prolific playwrights – how have you found the process?

The playwrights are all comrades and colleagues of mine. I have known them for years and collaborated with them numerous times. So the process is familiar and organic. The difference this time is that I am directing their work.

Can you tell me a bit about the process of actualising from concept to stage?

It is a process of conceiving it intellectually and then theatrically – the work is not fully  actualised until you begin rehearsal –  but commissioning writers and receiving the final drafts is the beginning of that process – as well as assembling a creative team to support the making and performance of the work.

Milad Norouzi and Irin Vela | Photo by Miguel Rios and Meredith O’Shea

Do you think theatre is a great platform for voicing political opinion?

I don’t think theatre is a great platform for voicing political opinion. That is best brokered by journalists, and political parties and to an extent by academics. Theatre itself is political by virtue of who is represented on the stage and where the content comes from. So theatre itself is inherently political.  If it is used as a platform for voicing political opinions it risks being didactic limits the possibility of true conflict which is the essence of drama. Or life.

What can audiences expect from The Audition?

They will see a unique theatre work that explores the universality and particularity of the experience of gaining acceptance – or recognising merit where it is due.  Each writer brings a unique language and world view to their work.  I hope the audience comes out of the show thinking about concepts such as respect, empathy, history and discrimination.

The Audition | 13 – 24 November

La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton

For bookings please call 03 9347 6948 or visit the La Mama website
For more information, click here.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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