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MHNow Interview with Michael Hurst

11 June 2005






1. What does it mean to you to have been made an Officer of the New Zealand order of Merit?

It means a great deal to me to have this public acknowledgement of my work.

2. When you look at all of the projects on your c.v., all of your professional accomplishments, which do you think you did your best work in; what are you most proud of?

In Hamlet I felt like I was achieving a maturity I hadn't had to that point.  This is a function of experience. I'm very proud of a lot of my early work, for example, Amadeus, my first Hamlet, The Holy Sinner.  But it hasn't been until recently that I have begun to feel the weight of experience.  From a directing point of view there are many highlights including The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet '94 and 2003, Lysistrata '91, the film Jubilee and the tv drama Love Mussel.

3. Your next project will be John Webster's Jacobean revenge tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi; can you tell us something about it?

It is a very dark world in which people come to grief for no other reason than they exist. Webster wrote at a time when there was a strong pessimism in the world view - the creation of things already contains the decay and death of those things and so consequently the play is full of dark and twisted imagery, thwarted desires and rampant sexuality. My character Bosola is a malcontent who murders the duchess on behalf of her obsessive brother, Ferdinand, but whose sense of justice and moral rectitude is kindled by that very murder. It's a really juicy part!!

4. Obviously your career is as busy as ever. Do you have any long-range plans/goals/dreams that you can share with us?

To be in a position to make the work I want to make. This would include playing King Lear and a movie of Stuart Hoar's great New Zealand play Squatter.

5. (I gave Michael a do-it-yourself question here:  What do you wish someone would ask you about because you're dying to talk about it?  Here's his question--and answer)

Question: Tell me all about the relationship between religion and the theatre.

Answer: This is an enormous topic which fascinates me. As a theatre practitioner it is important for me to acknowledge the function I have in terms of creating a sense of communion between the audience and the work.  I think that the experience of theatre at its best is a transcendent experience which can speak directly to our souls.

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Thanks, Michael!



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