Dimitriades was keen to work with Elazzi because he considers the western Sydney playwright “one of the bright and interesting new voices to hit the Australian stage because he blends in a lot of his experiences with culture and religion”.
The other attraction for Dimitriades was that Lady Tabouli, which has been extensively reworked since it was workshopped as part of Griffin Theatre’s Batch Festival in May last year, was a “very Sydney story”.
“That’s something that’s a real strong interest of mine, to make sure the stage is actually reflecting the real Australia, the real Sydney, people whose stories don’t often get told.”
To that end, Dimitriades was keen to cast actors – Antony Makhlouf, Deborah Galanos, Johnny Nasser and Nisrine Amine – whose backgrounds authentically reflected the story.
“We have four actors who are from that background and deeply embedded in those tradition and those histories,” he says. “There’s truth in representation. It’s not just trying to paint a picture.”
And for those suffering PTFCD – post-traumatic family Christmas disorder – Lady Tabouli should offer some light relief.
“We all have some experience with family and some sort of family dysfunction and the personalities within our family, even if the family is functional,” he says. “You add to that the pressure cooker of a wedding, Christmas or a christening, or whatever it is, and there’s a lot of humour just in the relationships.
“You stir into that people really testing those relationships and yes, it’s dramatic, but there’s also lots of room for comedy. Comedy allows us to see we are all caricatures of ourselves.”
Lady Tabouli begins another busy year for Dimitriades, who directed six plays in 2019, as well as receiving four Sydney Theatre Awards, including best director, for his critically acclaimed 2018 production of Metamorphoses.
But not one to slow down – and also modest to fault, when I suggest he is the busiest director in Sydney – Dimitriades also plans to do the rounds of the Sydney Festival.
“I have a lot of friends in other shows, so I will try and get around,” he says.
Lady Tabouli is at the Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from January 9-18.
Louise is Editor of S and TV Liftout at The Sun-Herald