Jacindamania, Paris Hilton, stutters, and a car ride full of Basement memories

Jacinda_hero image
Mabs Room
And I was like
Wine Lips
21st Narcissus
Just before his new play ‘Jacinda’ hits the stage, Sam Brooks takes us down his memory lane of the epic highs and lows of his years at Basement Theatre.


Goddess and Mab’s Room

September 2012
What was it? A double bill – my ambitious-for-me-at-the-time grad show, which was me trying every trick of the book and a show about a student who meets their teacher in a hotel room, which I’m absolutely sure does not hold up to modern moral standards.

Best memory: The feeling of opening my first show, and then my second show on the same night, and knowing that people enjoyed them. It’s the same rush that you hear stand-ups talk about – you’re always chasing the dragon’s tail of your first laugh, and I guess I’m always chasing the dragon’s tail of my first opening.
Worst memory:  Our projector breaking, me crying on the phone to my bank trying to get an overdraft so I could hire a new one for the week.

And I Was Like

March 2013
What was it? A play where a dude falls in love with another dude who is choosing to be mute.

Best memory: Getting the box office return, realizing the venue was risk share now and I wouldn’t have to sell my worldly possessions to make up the venue hire, given that we only did 19% houses, because it was my first show in the main space.  And I had valiantly decided to direct, write and produce my own show.
Worst memory: Deciding it would be an amazing idea to smoke herbal cigarettes in the theatre, ending up stinking it out and getting a kind warning from Sam Snedden that I would have to pay the $1100 callout fee for a fire engine.


April 2013
What was it? Vagina Monologues for baby gays.
Best memory: Sitting up in the window sill of the Basement Studio watching how many people were coming to my show that I wrote when I was 19, and was putting on when I was 22.
Worst memory: Sitting up in the window sill of the Basement Studio counting how many people were coming to my show that I wrote when I was 19, and was putting on when I was 22.

Another Dead Fag 

November 2013
What was it? A show about gay teen suicide – a family dealing with the loss of one of their own.
Best memory: The feeling of many industry people I admired – Shane Bosher, Sophie Roberts, Lynne Cardy – coming to see the show and responding to it.
Worst memory: Blowing a fuse on our last night and having to dim the lights mid-show so we didn’t blow it again.

Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys

2014 and 2016
What was it? A thinly veiled autobiographical story about a gay guy falling in love with straight guys – set in a car – also performed in a car.
Best memory: Actually getting the thing I thought was a pipe dream up and watching over a hundred people crowded around a car, watching, feeling and responding to a thing I had felt was so weirdly personal and insular.
Worst memory: Being rained in on our second night and having to scramble a new venue, which happened to be next door – the loading dock at Q Theatre.

Wine Lips

August 2014
What was it? A site specific love letter and screed against the theatre industry that I wrote specifically for Chelsea McEwan Millar – one of my best friends. It only gets more relevant and painful to me with each passing year.

Best memory:  Probably the first read-through, when I realized I had something special – and more importantly, I had it with one of my closest friends.
Worst memory: Finding out my mother had cancer a week beforehand, finding out it was terminal on the Friday of our season, and having to finish up and pack out on our closing night knowing that the last show of mine she’d seen was long in the past.


February 2015
What was it? A solo show with two back-up dancers, where I tied in my journey with my speech and stutter with my various love life adventures.
Best memory: Getting through the opening night – a ninety minute show where I didn’t leave stage and stuttered through the entire thing (because I have a stutter) – and knowing that if I could do that, I could pretty much do anything.
Worst memory: Forgetting my choreography entirely on closing night.

The Girl and The Gay

April 2015
What was it? An excuse to get a Comedy Festival pass – also a show about a toxic relationship between a straight woman and a gay man. Definitely not based on real life.
Best memory: Finding out that the only Paris Hilton songs which couldn’t be licensed by APRA at the time, was her superior, earlier work and that I could instead license her later - mediocre but still catchy stuff, and therefore I have in some fashion contributed money to the Hilton billions.
Worst memory: Finding out that my grandmother had gone into hospital a few hours before we opened – and having to not only go through the opening night, but then do a midnight line-up show at the same time.

The 21st Narcissus

October 2015
What was it? A commission for Young and Hungry about social media that aged the moment it opened.

Best memory: Introducing the younger generation to Avril Lavigne, Cheryl Cole, and Sarah Brightman (and right in this order, too).
Worst memory: Singing ‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavigne at karaoke on closing night ight, which is potentially the loosest use of the term ‘singing’ that I can fathom.

Tiny Deaths

November 2015
What was it? Nine monologues written for women by Uther Dean – the first time I had directed something I hadn’t written.
Best memory: Working with eight incredibly talented women (and one dude), getting to hang out with them and shoot the shit – talk about everything and get to work on writing together. It stretched me a lot.
Worst memory: The reaction I got every night when I sprayed $5 Hello Kitty body spray over the room – I’ve never experienced such visceral and violent hatred towards me.

Twenty Eight Millimetres

February 2018
What was it? A show about the fantasy of romantic love and the harsh reality of grief.
Best memory: Sitting next to my soul sister Jean on opening night, clutching each other during the climactic monologue – and being so proud of this work I had made with four of my closest friends in the entire world, realizing that this is something that only I could have written and these people could have brought so vividly to life in this way.
Hardest memory: Realising that this was the natural end to my career at The Basement – a place that has served as the foundation for my career and consistently pushed me to do better, do more, and never turned me away when I’ve failed.
It’s been my home and my port of rest for six years, and now it’s time for it to do the same for a whole range of other artists, and whoever the next stuttering gay playwright is.


Written by Sam Brooks, directed by Sam Snedden, and presented by the Actors' Program Class of 2018, Jacinda premiers at Basement Theatre on 14 November. Find all performance dates and tickets here.
Want to know even more about Sam Brooks? Here's a recent interview about another of his collaborations with director Sam Snedden, Burn Her, on RNZ, and here's a link to his writing for The Spinoff.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

8 Nov 2018

The Big Idea Editor

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