Benita De Wit
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Q&A 
 
 
Benita de Wit

Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Theatre Director
 
Origin: Sydney, Australia
Currently based: New York City, United States

 

  

Benita is currently undertaking a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing at Columbia University in New York City. She was one of six accepted into the degree and the recipient of the Theatre Dean’s Fellowship. In Australia she has worked on projects for The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Sydney Festival, The Sydney Fringe, Woodcourt Art Theatre and James Anthony Productions. Benita helped to found the workshopping body New Musicals Australia and has also worked with Griffin Theatre Company, Ensemble Theatre and Siren Theatre. Benita graduated from a Bachelor of Arts (Performance Studies) at the University of Sydney in 2008 and was an active member of the Sydney University Dramatic Society.

 

 
Who are you as an artist?
I am a theatre director creating new work and bringing theatricality and imagination into new spaces. I am interested in uncovering new audience relationships by placing theatre in unusual locations and using entertainment as a medium for social change.
 
What prompted you to come to the US?
The incredible theatre education opportunities and the dynamic artistic culture of New York.
 
What did your course/project involve?
I have just completed my first of three years of full time study. I have studied theatre history, dramatic structure, tragedy and comedy, composition, viewpoints and contemporary plays and directed over 30 short theatre projects.

What were the highlights of your experience?
I have had the opportunity to meet a large number of inspiring playwrights, directors, actors and producers who I have been able to learn from and collaborate with on a number of projects.
 
Where did you find inspiration? 
Anywhere and everywhere. From productions I saw on Broadway, to books I read, to people I saw on the subway or a plastic duck I found in the props room!
 
What will you take away from this experience?
In addition to a great theoretical background and an understanding of the American theatre industry, I have gained a huge amount of practical experience as a director as well as a newly developed resourcefulness. I will take into my second year the ability to create theatre anywhere at any time using whatever I have at hand.

What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
A site-specific performance using text from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman that involved an audience travelling in a elevator to see memories unfold on different levels of a building.

 
 
 
What are you currently working on?
The two full length projects that I will be rehearsing and presenting next semester. The first is an adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters underscored by live classical music and the second is a devised performance about asylum seekers in off-shore detention centres, created using text from The Tempest, shadow play and recycled objects.

What is your vision for the future?
I hope to continue to learn as much as possible and create exciting theatre and collaborative relationships over the next two years. When I complete my degree I want to establish my own theatre company and work in both America and Australia as a theatre director.

 
What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
Everyone is creatively unique and will benefit from different experiences. The US has many fantastic Universities and a dynamic creative culture. Find what excites you or what you're curious about and go for it!
 
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