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We know Aaron Sorkin wrote The Social Network, The West Wing, A Few Good Men and The American President but Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is rarely mentioned. Think 30 Rock but with ping pong dialogue that will leave your head spinning and yearning for more. Unfortunately, the series (starring a much transformed Chandler – Mathew Perry) was cancelled after the first season. In The Farnsworth Invention, Sorkin takes his love for television and his fascination with invention on stage. The story revolves around a Philo Farnsworth, a self-taught electronics genius, and David Sarnoff, a broadcasting tycoon, who fight over the invention of television. Set in 1929 but framed within an acute awareness of today’s audience, this is a battle between the scientist and a dirty word called patent. TicketStubbies’ speaks to New Theatre’s Artistic Director and Director of The Farnsworth Invention, Louise Fischer for an insight into television on stage.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip also by Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin’s one-liners are quick, witty and too good to be true. What was your experience directing his words? It has been a truly fun ride – lots of wonderful things to discover in this terrific script.  There are some hysterical scenes but there are also some “you could hear a pin drop” poignant moments.

Were there any challenges? Making sure the work is highly theatrical.  There was a danger that a play about television could look like a television play on stage.  A dramatic irony we wished to avoid.

With something being invented every other minute, do you think the idea of invention has lost its magic in today’s world? Sadly yes. Like exploration of the physical world, there seems to be very few frontiers that haven’t been discovered.

Do you feel this story is timeless? Firstly, great writing doesn’t date and the story itself is about human relationships and the struggle to realise a dream.

What three things/questions would you discuss with Aaron Sorkin if you were to meet him? What compelled him to bring Farnsworth’s story to light? He could have made Sarnoff more of a villain but he’s written a relatively sympathetic character. Does he relate to Sarnoff in some way? Will he introduce me to Martin Sheen?

Enough about Sorkin, tell us a little about yourself. How did you nab the title of Artistic Director of New Theatre? I had been doing a lot of stuff at the New Theatre – directing, acting and generally making a nuisance of myself.  They let me be AD to shut me up.

Do you watch much television? If so, what are the top three programs you are most ashamed of watching? I don’t get a lot of time to watch TV and often it’s the late night crap I watch after rehearsals but my guilty pleasures are The Amazing Race  (I so want to be a contestant), Angel/Buffy (beats the Twilight mob hands down) and Scrubs. (West Wing goes without saying)

Throw us a few titillating words on what the audience can expect at your production. I’m not sure about titillating but what they can expect a compelling night at the theatre with a kick arse script performed by an ensemble of amazing and versatile actors.

TRU THAT LOU!

The Farnsworth Invention (American production)

Until 13 Aug, New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown. $22-$28. 9519 5081, newtheatre.org.au

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