Thursday, September 3, 2009


Interview with Frank Otis

Why was Defector Art Theatre set up in the first place?

I was in a theatre company that was good but very straight and I decided that the only way I was going to do the theatre that I wanted to do was to set up my own.

So what is Defector Art about?

Two things, basically: one is opportunity. We love giving people a chance to show off their craft. It doesn't matter if you are an actor, writer or director. We don't care how much experience you have had, just that you are good at what you do. If you take a look out our recent 'Short But Not So Sweet', we gave opportunities to ten writers, ten directors and over 20 actors. All performing to packed houses. The women who won best female actor had never performed on stage before. We love that type of shit! It's what we've been about since day one and we still are.

The second thing is our slogan 'Anything but safe'. We love to do theatre that challenges an audience. That will maybe make them question what society is about, or what they are about. We don't want to do what is expected or acceptable. We love breaking the rules.

It seems a great time to ask about the 'naked theatre' jibs.

Yeah, Iook, quite frankly we don't care. If a play has a nude scene in it and it's part of the story, we do it. It's that simple. We don't have long meetings about it.

Nudity has been a part of art since day one and nobody is going to change that. Writers know that we are not going to freak out if their play has nudity in it, so they tend to come to us rather than other theatre companies. Because of that we probably do more nudity than most other theatre companies. But so what? I refer you back to our slogan.

Some people are saying that you look for nude roles.

Really? Well, I think that's a reflection on themselves. Look, I think that if you are going to do something different, you are going to get flack about it. It's human nature. Maybe I will write a play about it one day.

Speaking of writing is it true you went through a dry spell?

Yes it is, but every artist goes through it. That doesn't stop you thinking that you will never write again. However, in the last twelve months I've written one full length and four short plays. So I think it's well and truly over.

Defector Art is taking a couple of months off, what are you doing?

Well, I have just finished writing a play for a primary school and I will also be doing a show for Melbourne Writers Theatre (more about that next month). As well as that, we have Melbourne and Sydney Short And Sweet coming up!

Good to see you are taking a break! What has Defector Art got planned?

We have just heard that we have made the top 30 of Melbourne Short And Sweet and we have also made it into Sydney! Next year will be Defector Art's biggest year. We will be opening the year with our biggest production yet. It's a vampire play and we already have a costume designer. It is going to be big, sexy and scary and there is a message behind it.

Sounds interesting how can actors apply if they are interested?

We will take expressions of interest now. They can send their resumes to us. We will be holding our first lot of auditions later in the year. However, I should point out we are looking for actors who will commit to this project. We want to make it the best show we have ever put on. I should also point out that there is nudity in the play. It is a vampire play. So if you are comfortable with your own and other people's bodies, it would be an advantage.

What else is planned for 2010?

Well, of course we are going to do 'Short But Not So Sweet' again, that will be in July. Later in the year we are planning to bring back 'Boxashorts'. So it should be a great year!
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