Interviews

Published on January 16th, 2012 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Jason Goode – Director of “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea”

Film and theatre director Jason Goode is the man behind Pacific Theatre’s new production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley. As we approach opening night, Jason took some time to answer our questions and offer insight into his directorial process and the launch of the play.

What inspired you to take on this production?

Aleks Paunovic and I had a great experience doing two short films together (Ducks and The Hitchhiker). We got along really well and I think we brought the best out of each other. Not long afterwards, in 2006, Aleks brought me the script for Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and very generously suggested we do it together. I wasn’t familiar with the play, but when I read it I immediately fell in love with it. I had wanted to direct a play for a while and it felt like the perfect production for me. I would still call it my favourite play.

Can you briefly walk us through your creative process for this production, from the early stages all the way to opening?

People familiar with the play will know that it’s quite taxing for the actors: 80 minutes, no intermission, the two of them on stage the whole time. And they have to go all the way: to the lowest depths of despair, to the highest peaks of relief and joy, and everywhere in between. So I feel that part of the process for me creatively, is managing just how hard the actors go and mostly encouraging them through the process. I think it would be easy to burn out rehearsing this play and to lose the energy and joy that doing this play can bring to an actor. And it would be easy to really tax the actors emotionally and physically by over-directing it. So besides all of the usual things a director does, I’m also paying attention to that.

Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?

Books have been really important for me. I didn’t get any formal training in this besides the occasional one-off class and I don’t work in film or theatre on a regular basis, so I read (and dream) a lot on the subject. Some key volumes for me:

William Ball’s A Sense of Direction
Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting
David Mamet’s True and False, The Three Uses of a Knife, and On Directing Film

And, frankly, Pacific Theatre as a place and community for artists has been key. When I first moved back to Vancouver a few years ago, I was lucky enough to get cast in a non-professional show there. That experience connected me to Ron and the staff and the cadre of artists that hang around there. I took acting classes there and did some more non-professional shows there as well. I generally hung around there when I could and most of my films, and now this play, have some sort of connection to that place.

What were the biggest challenges for you as a director in developing this production and how did you deal with them?

Fear was our biggest challenge. Aleks and I made a number of attempts at mounting the production, but we always found a way not to do it. Frankly, we were both terrified. The material is quite daunting and neither of us had done a play before (though I had acted in some non-professional productions). So the whole endeavour was very intimidating.

Finally in late 2009 we faced our fears and decided that we were going to do it no matter what. And Pacific Theatre had an opening the last week of August, so we booked it. Thankfully, Lori Triolo jumped in with us to play the role of Roberta. With Aleks and Lori, it felt like perfect casting and the production, despite only 4 shows, was successful. (Facebook was instrumental in helping us find an audience during a one-week run.)

And people responded really well to it. Ron Reed, the artistic director at Pacific Theatre, liked the show and asked us to put it in 2011-2012 season. We jumped at the chance.

What can you share about any future projects that are in development?

I’m developing a couple of film projects with my producing partner, Dylan Jenkinson. (We work under the banner Jenkinson/Goode Productions.) I don’t have any plays in the works, but after Danny finishes its run, I’ll start dreaming and scheming again.

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea opens at Pacific Theatre on January 20th, 2012. Visit PacificTheatre.org for details.

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