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In Profile: Fast Five with Todd Hawken

The Joan’s Todd Hawken helps create the worlds you enter when you step through those theatre doors. He’s a master of staging, building atmosphere through sound and lighting. We caught up with Todd to learn more about what makes him tick – from initial studies in medical science and history, to performing Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the London Proms opening night, a career in the performing arts and his dream dinner party.

Describe a day in your working life…

My days are as different as the shows the Joan presents. I might spend one day bumping in a touring theatre production. The following day I might find myself placing microphones, tuning a PA, and mixing sound for a music act. And the next day I might have to improvise a light show for a community dance concert.

What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?

I studied medical science and history at university, but music, theatre, and dance were always a big part of my life. Somewhere along the way I decided to make a career of them.

What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?

The Black Rider – a music theatre piece created by Robert Wilson, Tom Waits, and William S. Burroughs – stormed the Sydney Festival in 2005. It still stands out in my memory. It had everything: transportive music, spectacular design, an alchemical mix of performance styles, and the devil as its star.

And your favourite / most memorable musical moments?

Singing Mahler’s 8th Symphony on the opening night of the London Proms in Royal Albert Hall was an experience that will be hard to beat.

If I could see anyone perform at The Joan it would be…

Do I have to be realistic? Nick Cave please. If Nick’s otherwise busy, C. W. Stoneking puts on a fine show. And get Jungle to throw a dance party in the foyer – with the dancers from their music videos, of course.

Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.

I’d invite Oscar Wilde, for his razor wit and perhaps a peerless fairy tale; Serge Gainsbourg, for some sexy music and a few dating tips; Jessie J, for some sultry songs with Serge and some conversation-starting fashion; Geoffrey Robertson, for a penetrating political confab and plenty of provocative questions; Marco Polo, because nothing’s more interesting than a great travel story; and Anne Bonny, because I’m writing a teleplay about her piratical exploits. If she’d only promise not to slit my throat, I’d like to get to know her.