James Maeva and Sandra Zvenyika in America Rex
Credit: Michael Loh
Dione Joseph began directing in 2006 with W.B Yeat’s ‘Land of Heart’s Desire’. She chose the play because it’s ghoulish mixture of faeries and lovers, twilight hours and changelings appealed to her sense of bending our expectations of reality. The play premiered in Palmerston North while she was completing her undergrad in English and Theatre at Massey University and was the start of a life-long love affair with shaping and sculpting work, differently.
The following year while on her student exchange to UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) she was invited to direct Neil Simon’s ‘Fools’ and it was this experience that changed her vision around what theatre could do. Fortunate to have two dramaturgs, an incredibly experienced production team and a number of mentors, this experience further encouraged her to pursue and commit to a career in directing. The following year Dione moved to Melbourne, Australia and within months had her first Assistant Directing job on Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman with BooBook Theatre. Her passion for working with PoC and Indigenous creatives propelled her to undertake what she calls, ‘colour-conscious casting’, inviting actors to bring all of themselves into the rehearsal room – and it is this commitment that continues to guide her approach to any of the works she develops. Five years later, Dione had directed over 30 shows including new Australian works, adaptations, comedy and a musical and had worked with a number of professional and independent companies in Melbourne. She also completed her Honours in Theatre Studies (Uni of Melbourne) and a Masters in Community and Cultural Performance from VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) and also completed directors training at the Melbourne Actors Lab under Peter Kalos, attended the Chicago Directors lab (2012) and was awarded at place at the Lincoln Center’s Directors Lab in New York (2014).
Dione’s directing style has been developed over the past fourteen years through a range of rich hands-on experiences, encounters with incredible humans including Monique Mojica and Lemi Ponifasio, and an approach that supports narratives to be told on their own terms. Based in Auckland since 2015 her directing style is deeply entwined with her dramaturgical approach and her tool kit incorporates a range of different methods from Butoh to Meisner, meditation to Chubuck and more. Although she has been invited on several occasions to pursue a Master’s in Directing she is content at the moment to make work with the people and continue building her practice in Aotearoa.