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Lucas Jervies

Simplified ... Lucas Jervies casts one actor in nine roles for his version of The Witches.

Noon at NIDA, the acting school at Randwick: actor Guy Edmonds is leaping and spinning around rehearsal room No.6.

On the CD player is a Mahler symphony. In one hand, Edmonds has a baton; in the other, a copy of the novel The Witches, a typical Roald Dahl tale moralising against childhood overindulgence. His director, Lucas Jervies, alternately laughs and watches intently. Lose the ballet jump, Jervies amusedly advises the actor.

He should know: Jervies is a former Australian Ballet dancer-turned-choreographer. ''But I wasn't really liking the stuff I was making,'' he says.

So, at 33, he has returned to NIDA to hone his directing skills in this intensive course, which has an annual intake of only six.

The Witches is intended to showcase all Jervies has learnt at NIDA in 2012.

Edmonds, best known for his stage work in Holding the Man and on TV in ABC1's A Moody Christmas, pulls his shoulders back to cut a classic conductor's silhouette.

''Don't think too much about the aesthetic of the silhouette,'' Jervies says. ''Just think about your intention.''

Jervies has simplified matters by making Edmonds perform all of The Witches' nine key roles: ''I wanted to make it a one-man show to give it that storytelling perspective,'' he says.

Edmonds appears to relish finding the voices and physicality of the boy narrator, his grandmother, the naughty kid Bruno, and a ''Hitleresque'' Grand High Witch.

Jervies hopes there will be kids in the audience but, this being a NIDA production, knows it will be stacked with industry types.

Have the recent pubic stoushes over NIDA's management been a distraction? ''Not at all,'' Jervies says.

''The course is so intense there's no time to let that bother you.

''It's a very personal journey for me, directing this. If I can make a children's story for adults and remind them what it's like to be kids, that will be great.''

 

THE WITCHES

Wednesday to Friday, November 30, 7.30pm, Saturday, December 1, 2pm and 7.30pm, Parade Studio, NIDA, 215 Anzac Parade, Kensington, ticketek.com.au, $18-$28.