Interview: Warwick Doddrell (Perth) talks audience expectations, directing Under This Sun and more

Ahead of its Opening Night we caught up with Warwick Doddrell, director and producer of Under This Sun to discover a little bit more about what audiences can expect from the play, the initial inspiration behind the work and just what directing for the first time is like!

Under This Sun is the first production from Perth’s newest theatre company The Emergence Co and is Doddrell’s directorial debut. Under This Sun follows the lives of three twenty-somethings as they renounce the trappings of the modern world and escape into the outback on a spiritual journey to find themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

What was the inspiration behind Under this Sun?

When we began this project, there was lots of commentary in social media about Australian values. Particularly in relation to the illegal immigrant situation, with phrases like “If that’s what it means to be Australian, I don’t want to be Australian”. So we looked back at this traditional idea of “Australia” as presented in the poetry of Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson, to see what was the same, and how we had changed in those 100 or so years.

What does the Australian landscape mean to you?

It’s unconquered. It’s ancient. It’s harsh and beautiful, and I think an absolute humbling reminder that we are just a small part of something far larger than us. Sometimes we forget that.

Which aspect of modern life could you not do with out?

Music at my finger tips. I put a soundtrack behind most of my daily life, so having 60 gb of music at my finger tips, at every moment is a pretty amazing part of modern life.

How did you decide on the soundtrack for the piece?

The landscape was really where we began with the soundtrack. We wanted to create a very strong sense of the vast expanse of the outback our characters find themselves in. When I stumbled upon Garth Stevenson’s music, it was perfect. It is very organic in instrumentation, with a strong emotional resonance.

The indie folk music composed for the show by Mike Podmore adds an energetic, authentic human sound, a plucked and strummed guitar into the mix. It’s an authentic, raw sound – echoing the authentic experience our characters are searching for.

There is no shortage of poetry and prose relating to the Bush out there, how did you decide on which to use?

We began with the classics, and then looked to find variations on theme and tone. Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson both explore the differences between the rural and city experience, with Patterson taking a more romantic angle and Lawson more of a realist. We looked for poetry that contrasted and explored different tones and themes on the bush v city experience.

What can audiences expect from Under the Sun?

A great night at the theatre! It’s a visceral, theatrical experience. I think people will enjoy going on a journey with our characters. There’s a lot of humour, as well as darker, surreal elements and beautiful imagery.
We have embraced the unique constraints of theatre to create something that’s perhaps a little different to a lot of the theatre people see. I hope that people will leave with a little spark of life.

This is your first time directing, how have you enjoyed the experience so far?

It’s been a roller-coaster! A wonderfully terrifying and challenging creative experience. I have been very privileged to work with a wonderful team, and to have the support of so many creative people whom I admire, coming in and giving us feedback throughout the process. It’s really been amazing.

Do you have any particular directorial role models? And why?

I love Marianne Elliot’s recent work, War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, for the National Theatre in the UK. I think they are very theatrical experiences, unique to theatre, which is the kind of thing I aspire to make.

Locally, Matt Lutton’s work has always inspired me for similar reasons, and Kat Osborne, who has mentored me for Under This Sun has been a constant inspiration for her open approach to devising, and exciting ideas incorporating movement and design.

This is the first work for The Emergence Company, what’s next for the group?

It’ll just be great to see how people respond to Under This Sun! I think the process we’ve gone on has been an incredible learning experience, I’m sure we’ll all want to have time to digest and regroup a little before beginning the next thing. Personally, I’ve always wanted to do a show of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so maybe that’ll be next!

Under This Sun is performing at The Blue Room Theatre in Perth until June 6th. For tickets and more information visit:


This content has recently been ported from its original home on Arts on the AU and may have formatting errors – images may not be showing up, or duplicated, and galleries may not be working. We are slowly fixing these issue. If you spot any major malfunctions making it impossible to read the content, however, please let us know at editor AT

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.