Red Silk – Passionate, Provocative (In conversation with Aarne Neeme)

Red Silk, by Lois Achimovich, is a play about psychiatric agendas and the damage they can cause. Inspired by the poetry of renowned American author Anne Sexton, Red Silk starrs Roz Hammond (Murial’s Wedding, The Librarians) as the troubled Anne.  

Next week, the cast and crew of Red Silk will begin their World Premiere season in Perth and our WA correspondent Craig Dalglish caught up with director Aarne Neeme to talk about the production.

Roz Hammond in Red Silk
Roz Hammond in Red Silk

AT: Can you give us a brief history of the development of Red Silk?

Aarne Neeme: Writer Lois Achimovich first came across the work of Anne Sexton [Pulitzer Prize winning American Poet], when she was studying in the States. This play has been in development for some 10 years, going through a number of transitions, and being influenced by a number of people, principally Pippa Williamson. I saw a rehearsed reading of it in Sydney a few years ago; was enthralled by it; and welcome this opportunity to direct it.

AT: What can audiences expect from Red Silk?

Like any good play, audiences will learn something, and be allowed to feel and consider. Red Silk takes us back to the late 1960s and examines the rights of women and the ethics of psychiatry, in a far more paternalistic society. It will be a passionate, provocative, and as befits Anne Sexton, a richly poetic experience.

AT: What excites you about Red Silk?

All of the above in terms of content and effect! Plus the chance of re-engaging with old friends, colleagues, and former students in a meaningful way.

AT: In directing the show what has been the hardest thing?

I never think of it as difficulties, rather a series of challenges, that you wrestle with, in order to find the clearest and most graceful solutions.

AT: The easiest?

Likewise, it’s never easy, and if you start feeling that, it’s time to hang up the pencil!

AT: What is the best thing about working with the cast?

The best thing is the shared vocabulary and trust, that comes of having worked previously with Roz and Dan, while Luke is a natural, open to anything. It allows you to tackle things head-on without pussy-footing.

AT: This is the world premiere of Red Silk. What are the major advantages and disadvantages in directing a world premier as opposed to an established work?

[pull_left]Any World Premiere carries extra responsibility to the work and it’s author, who has spent a considerable time and effort on it. The aim always is to launch it so successfully, that it has further life beyond the initial production.[/pull_left] Any World Premiere carries extra responsibility to the work and it’s author, who has spent a considerable time and effort on it. The aim always is to launch it so successfully, that it has further life beyond the initial production. With an established play, you know it has worked, and your job is to make it work again under the given circumstances. But a brand new play is a step into the dark, where you utilise all your experience and intuition to make it glow! That darkness provides both uncertainty and excitement in a heady mixture.

AT: What advise would you give to directors when producing a world premier.

My advice is to work closely with the writer, and make sure you fully comprehend their intentions. Then find an illuminating concept, the best possible venue and the right people around you. And always keep in mind the indivisibility between form and meaning.

AT: How did you get into directing?

My path into directing was through choreography; serving an apprenticeship with Wal Cherry at his Emerald Hill Theatre; extending my knowledge at the UNSW Drama Dept., and taking wing with student productions, which were seen across the country; which all led to my first professional directing job as Resident Director at the Octagon Theatre UWA. And the rest, as they say, is history.

AT: Who/ what has been your greatest influence in pursuing a career in the theatre?

Directing is a vocation, like any other in the arts.

You are affected by your heritage, and no doubt your early experiences. Along the road, you meet and are influenced by many people. But ultimately you don’t aim to emulate anyone, rather aim to satisfy your own creative hunger,

AT: What excites you about the theatre?

Working in collaboration with all kinds of gifted people, and constantly challenging yourself and others to do it better! To truly touch and stimulate the hearts and minds of the audience. Aiming for that elusive goal of perfection in Art.

Red Silk will launch The Blue Room’s 2012 season in this all-star production featuring Roz Hammond (Muriel’s Wedding, The Dish, The Librarians), Luke Hewitt (Taking Liberty, Road Train) and Dan Luxton (Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Gallipoli’s Deep Secrets).

13 – 31 March 2012
7pm Tuesday – Saturday

The Blue Room Theatre
53 James St, Perth Cultural Centre Northbridge

Bookings & info: or call 08 9227 7005


One thought on “Red Silk – Passionate, Provocative (In conversation with Aarne Neeme)

  • The production couldn’t be in safer hands. Aarne’s respect for and understanding of the text is second to none. Sorry I am on the wrong side of the country so won’t get to see it! Chookas.


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