An Iliad director Lisa Peterson isn't a big Greek mythology buff, but was drawn to An Iliad because she loves poetry, writes Hannah McKee.
An Iliad is perhaps more known for starring True Blood's Denis O'Hare, but director Lisa Peterson says she does not mind being the production's lesser-known half.
Opening tonight as part of the New Zealand Festival, An Iliad has been a work in progress since its inception almost 10 years ago, when Peterson approached O'Hare with the idea. The duo met in Chicago in the late 1980s while working on a play together. They have remained friends but An Iliad is their first production together since.
"Mostly it was his theatre career that shaped my opinion to ask him, I asked him 10 years ago and he had a very strong theatre career but not so much TV then.
"I just thought it might be especially interesting to work with an opinionated actor instead of a writer, to have the text come straight out of the horse's mouth."
As O'Hare's TV career began to blossom, it became more of a challenge to fit in time for An Iliad, with other actors sometimes standing-in for the American Horror Story star. "At a certain point I gave up all hope Denis would perform in this, but I was happy he marked out the time to do it and turned down other work."
Peterson says the working dynamic between herself and O'Hare is very honest. "Denis knows himself very well, when he's tired he'll say so. He doesn't mince words, he's very direct but also practical and a hard worker and that's the kind of actor I love."
Peterson is very proud of An Iliad, but says she is fine with being the director rather than the star. "Directors never really get noticed, at least in New York theatre culture, so the back seat is a position I'm really used to."
This is the first international tour of An Iliad. "It's mind- blowing being here. Wellington feels like an amazingly different part of the world from what we know."
An Iliad, Opera House, tonight until Friday, 8.30pm
- The Dominion Post