On the Couch with Shaun Rennie

AAR-Shaun-Rennie-photo-by-Harvey-House-PhotographyWho is Shaun Rennie?
I am a Sydney-based theatre director. I am excitingly close to my 40th Birthday and I’m currently working as the revival director of La Bohème and the Assistant/Resident Director for the upcoming production of The Phantom of the Opera on Sydney Harbour.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Honestly. I know that sounds like a cliché but it’s true. I love working in theatre. Every new project brings its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, and teams of people working together to make something. I feel very lucky to have been able to have a career in theatre for over 20 years now.

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by so many people. Colleagues whose work excites me and always pushes me to want to do better work myself; my family whose support has been unwavering all my life; my friends who are living exciting and rich lives. I try to look at the people in my life who I can see are moving forward, despite the ups and downs, and I try to emulate what they are doing in their lives that is healthy and productive.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I believe that making theatre is my way of making a small difference in the world. I hope that doesn’t sound too brazen… but every show I get to work on, I try to focus on the conversations that people will be having in the car on the way home from the theatre. The questions that the kids who see the show will ask their parents after they see it. Theatre is society’s way of coming together and exploring what it is to be human, trying to answer sometimes answerable questions. I’ve seen the way theatre can change hearts and minds… and that’s why I love it, and why I’m confident that I’ll spend the rest of my life making it.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Mmmmmm…… I’ve been lucky enough to have visited some beautiful places around the world with work, but I have to say Qualia on Hamilton Island is pretty close to perfection. The weather, the azure water, the cocktails! Heaven!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If they are first timers to Sydney, I always start with the Bondi to Brontë walk and if we are feeling particularly energetic continue through to Coogee. It’s just the most spectacular intro to Sydney. I live in Bondi and every day I think how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep. Sydney really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently re-reading A Midsummers Night’s Dream. I’m currently working on a new pop musical adaptation of it for Bell Shakespeare called THE LOVERS. I am so excited about it, and just want to be across the source material as best as I can.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been stuck on Adele’s new album since it came out in November. That voice!

Happiness is?
A weekend away with a close group of friends. Laughter, shared meals, wine, games, discussions about life and art, sex and politics!

What does the future hold for you?
Theatre. Hopefully more work in the Opera world. A new Australian musical that hopefully tours and has an international life. I would love to travel internationally again… for work and pleasure. I’ve really begun to miss it these past few months! And hopefully a good couple of weekends away!

Shaun is the Revival Director of Opera Australia’s La Bohème – currently playing in the Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House until 4 February. Shaun is also the Assistant/Resident Director for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – The Phantom of the Opera at Fleet Steps – Mrs Macquaries Point: 25 March – 24 April 2022. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Shaun Rennie – photo by Harvey House Photography