‘I’m absolutely one for watching a performance that is held by a beautifully written play … but if it’s the only thing you’re eating, it’s horrifically dangerous to your system.’
Ben Keene talks to director, performer and dramaturg Daniel Schlusser about his practice, his thinking about theatre, and his continually shifting relationship to reading, writing and performance. Schlusser’s work encompasses many approaches to theatre making and traverses opera and installation as well as a wide range of work for companies ranging from the Melbourne Theatre Company to Chunky Move to the exploratory work of his own company, Daniel Schlusser Ensemble. Over the past few decade he has created some groundbreaking work, including memorable interrogations of classics such as Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Peer Gynt, and has worked with writers from Jack Hibberd to Falk Richter.
He formed the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble in 2009, creating works such as They Divided the Sky (Belvoir), M+M (adapted from Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita for Melbourne Festival), Menagerie (Melbourne Theatre Company), Ophelia doesn’t live here anymore (Chamber Made Opera), Poet #7, Life is a Dream, The Dollhouse, and Peer Gynt. Outside his own company, directing highlights include two works Thomas Bernhard’s The Histrionic for Malthouse/Sydney Theatre Company and Euripides’ Medea for the 2002 Melbourne Festival. Premiere productions of new Australian work including Ben Ellis’ Zombie State for Melbourne Workers Theatre/Union House Theatre, Angus Cerini’s The Barbeque for La Mama, and many works by Jack Hibberd including the premiere productions of The Death of Ivan Ilych, Legacy, Long Time No See and Slam Dunk (all La Mama) as well as his plays The Overcoat, Odyssey of a Prostitute and The Prodigal Son for Playbox.
As a performer Schlusser’s work includes Trustees with Belarus Free Theatre and Malthouse, which he also co-wrote, Trapper directed by Christian Leavesley and Jolyon James (Arena Theatre Company at the Victorian Arts Centre and the Sydney Opera House) which was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Ensemble, The Judgement directed by Samara Hersch (La Mama), the role of ‘Husband’ in Adena Jacob’s multi-award winning production of Persona (TheatreWorks/ Malthouse/Belvoir), and Laius in Matthew Lutton’s production On the Misconception of Oedipus (Malthouse/Perth TC) which won a Green Room Award for Best Ensemble. With THE RABBLE he created the role of Herod in Salome (Carriageworks) and the role of Bernarda Alba in Cageling (fortyfive downstairs/Carriageworks) for which he was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Male Actor.