Choir Boy – Co-Director Dino Dimitriadis On The Depth And Beauty Of The Play

The Tony Award-winning play 'Choir Boy', from Academy Award-winning writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, is hitting Australian stages.

'Choir Boy' - Image © Robert Catto

It's a story of sexuality, race, hope, gospel music, and a young gay man finding his voice. The show premiered back in 2012 at London's Royal Court Theatre, and this production will be directed by Dino Dimitriadis and Zindzi Okenyo.

'Choir Boy' follows Pharus Young (Darron Hayes), who is hell-bent on being the best choir leader in the 50-year history of Charles R. Drew Prep School For Boys. A pressure to conform to masculine expectations and a desire to gain the respect of his choristers stand in his way.

The production blends the language of high school hallways with the soulful sounds of gospel, for an unforgettable night at the theatre.

Before it celebrates its Australian premiere at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta (and moves on to Queensland Performing Arts Centre), we spoke to Co-Director Dino Dimitriadis.

How would you describe this show to someone who hasn’t heard of it before?
In three words: Soul-stirring. Complex. Joyous.

What drew you to the story?
It's a beautiful intersectional and queer story of identity and finding one's place in the world, flavoured with soul-lifting a cappella gospel songs.

It’s quite a blend of styles. Why does gospel music and theatre work so well?!
Theatre gets us into the hearts and minds of these beautifully-drawn characters, the songs take us into the soul. Tarell's blending of both soars this story to new heights.

It’s a Tony Award-winning production. What kinds of pressures are there to present a performance that has received accolades like this?
You can't get caught up on that. This is a new Australian production with a brilliant new cast. The job is to tell the story as truthfully as we can, to take audiences somewhere.

Dino Dimitriadis ChoirBoy
Dino Dimitriadis

What has been so far the highlight about your involvement in ‘Choir Boy’?
This team. The cast and creatives are bringing their all to this production. It's a privilege to be working with them all.

You’re co-directing alongside Zindzi Okenyo. What has this experience been like?
It's been wonderful to work alongside an artist I deeply respect, and a human I get to call a friend. We both bring a shared commitment to rigour and care and story. We have many things in common, but also have different lived experiences. I feel this will strengthen the depth of the production.

What’s your favourite thing about theatre and what it can achieve?
It puts us in a room with people we don't know and it centres 'liveness'. We can thrash out our hopes, fears and dreams. We experience the energy between performers and audience, and there's few things like that.

Lastly, from a Director’s perspective. . . What’s the ideal reaction to ‘Choir Boy’? How should audiences be feeling/thinking as they leave the theatre?
I don't like to predict how people will feel, or what they will think. I hope instead that we have done what we can to communicate the depth and beauty of this piece. That we create a space for escape, meditation and joy. Beyond that, I look forward to hearing about what the show does for people.

'Choir Boy' will have its Australian Premiere at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta from 14 February-11 March, before heading to Queensland Performing Arts Centre from 15-18 March. It then heads to Wollongong Town Hall 22-25 March.