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"You Will Fail Spectacularly - Make Yourself Listen And Learn"

13 Jul 2022
Arts Laureate Shane Bosher pulls no punches with advice for his younger self - and offers plenty of insight and warmth on how he sculpted his award-winning career.

Shane Bosher’s accomplishments in Aotearoa performing arts have left a lasting impression. An Arts Foundation Laureate, Bosher’s directorial touch has had a huge impact on theatre companies and festivals throughout the country for the last two decades, including his current show, Auckland Theatre Company’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, running at Q Theatre until 30 July.

Bosher took time out of his full schedule to provide some insights into his award-winning career, through TBI’s signature form, advice he would give to his younger self.



Get a new job


You’ll be pretty knocked about by the time you finish drama school. Lick your wounds and keep going. You won’t ever get to play Konstantin, Osvald or Edmund. And that is exactly as it should be. 


You’ll find out you’re good at something quite else. 


You’ll refine your love for the art of the possible in the rehearsal room. In this space, you will meet people who will redefine how you look at the world and your work. 


As a director, you’ll learn the difference between leadership and management. 


You’ll also learn that you’re a bit of a micro-manager. Managing your own micro-management will be a lifelong struggle. 


Sometimes you’ll make really bad art. Like really bad. Like please make it go away bad.


Twenty-something years later, you’ll get to direct someone else as Edmund (in Bosher’s current play Long Day’s Journey Into Night). And it will be just as it should be.  


Get an education


Theatre will give you an education. 


As you navigate your way through a multitude of plays, you’ll end up with inexpert knowledge about Bolshevism, Ponzi schemes, Deaf culture, the Galapagos Islands and the House of Un-American Activities. 


Unexpectedly, you’ll watch a 19 hour documentary series about baseball for research. 


A Younger Shane Bosher. Photo: Supplied.


You’ll read the complete works of Tennessee Williams and discover that his last twenty plays really are as shambolic as people say they are. 


You’ll listen to every song ever written by Joni Mitchell and determine that her acoustic phase really was her best. 


You’ll get to meet people who will floor you with their experience of life: most recently, a Glaswegian nurse and a morphine addict. 


You will also fail spectacularly. In work, in practice and in life. Make yourself listen and learn.  


Get a life


Face it, you’ll become a workaholic. You won’t work to live; you’ll live to work. 


Work will be your great love, but when you’re in a salaried gig, you’ll become frustrated by how all-consuming it all is and you’ll begin to set boundaries for yourself. 


You’ll leave the office at 6pm-ish, declaring “I’m late for my life”, only to realise that you don’t know what that means. 


You’ll watch Masterchef, but you won’t ever figure out how to cook. You’ll find freelancing tricky to navigate. 


You’ll work harder, for much less pay. There will be a pandemic (wild, right?!) and it will make you set new boundaries. 


But keep going. 


Take those singing lessons. Abandon reading Proust. Develop your obsession with flop musicals. When you burn the fennel, give it another crack.  




TBI readers are being offered an exclusive ticket deal to see Shane Bosher’s latest directorial project - $48 adult tickets until midday Saturday 16 July for any performance of Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill from Friday 15 - Sunday 17 July. Click here for details.


Auckland Theatre Company’s season of the Pulitzer-Prize winning drama by Eugene O’Neill runs until 30 July at Q Theatre.