Ross Mueller’s play Construction Of The Human Heart is a dark comedy that defies description. “It’s electric and fast and to the point – I’d say that the audience would have an exciting, raw and unexpected evening”, says director and producer Dino Dimitriadis. “It’s got these beautiful moments of lightness and humour and then it shifts; it falls into a deeper and kind of darker place. It is a piece that is for actors, it’s what theatre should be”.
Dimitriadis admits discussing Construction of the Human Heart is difficult. “You give away a lot with this piece if you start describing what happens in it. It’s more about what really happens. The set-up is two playwrights sitting in the space attempting to write a play which is basically what we’re seeing, and it’s a play based on their lives and as they try and find their words, and make sense of the play they’re writing, the truths fall out. So a lot of the humour is what they’re trying to write on the page, but as they try to deal with that and try to actually perform that, that’s when it goes into the deeper, layered territory”.
Dimitriadis describes the two actors – Michael Cullen as ‘Him’ and Cat Martin as ‘Her’ – as extraordinary. “This piece is one hundred percent dependent on the right actors”, he says. “The way it actually unfolds, you can’t hide anything. It’s very bare bones, it’s very deconstructed, it’s two actors on a stage and so the theatre of it is very simple, so you need extraordinary actors to be able to carry the words and the feelings.” So, what emotions does the work invoke? “It explores all the extremes – it goes from laugh out loud euphoria to loss and to grief and sadness. It really kind of exposes the raw undercurrent of what people might be feeling and dealing with. It puts what we’re dealing with internally onto a stage and shows it to us, it’s quite beautiful in that way”.
It seems balance is vital to Construction Of The Human Heart – between darkness and levity, His story and Her story, simplicity and depth. “It is very simple, but simplicity is really hard to achieve. It requires a lot of careful decisions because you’re dealing with less and everything that you’re achieving is really on show. So it’s just that balance between keeping it really pared back but finding the layers in that simplicity for the audience”, says Dimitriadis. “By choosing a show that is two people, that is simple, that’s not about set or costumes of lighting or anything, I’m basically saying that in order to pay the artists we need to reduce the costs and the way to do that we need to significantly shift the kinds of work that’s being made.”
Crowdfunding was fundamental to the development of this production, with a Pozible campaign established to pay the writers and actors. “It’s incredible – in ten days we got to the $5000 figure and the amount of discussion about artist fees and the need to pay artists was really wonderful”. He considers crowdfunding to be a great way to build a community around arts projects, centred on a common vision. “Basically, without the words and the performers, there is nothing and that should be at the centre of any producing conversation”, he says. “I’d rather have the actors on two milk crates and paid than not paid and incredibly lavish sets. Down the track, when the company gains traction, we can work out ways to make independent theatre more funded”.