I first read SYNCOPATION in 2006 but I first met Allan Knee some 30 years ago when we struck up a friendship through another one of his plays, SECOND AVENUE RAG. I was just out of Yale and apprenticing the director on that play through a (US) National Endowment of the Arts fellowship. Allan and I used to hang out and, as I recall, he would debrief and I would listen. We kept up our friendship for a few years but as is the nature of theatre, we eventually stopped being in touch – and then I moved to Australia.

Over the years I traveled back and forth to New York particularly when working on SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ but we didn’t reconnect. Then my sister, who lived in New York, got very ill so I came to stay with her. I decided to look up some old mates and found Allan’s number in the phone book, at the same address where he had been for 25 years ago (why move in New York if you’ve got a rent-controlled apartment!).

Allan emailed me SYNCOPATION - I read it, loved it and wanted to direct it from that first moment. Back in the day, Allan and I used to love going to the New York City Ballet – especially in the front row of the 4th ring at Lincoln Centre. Relatively cheap seats but a fantastic view of one of the world’s great companies. I had started working for Jerome Robbins on Broadway and Allan and I both especially loved going to see a Robbins ballet program at the NYCB. It is this nexus of Robbins’ choreography and Allan’s writing which, way back then, formed the creative fulcrum enabling me to approach directing this magnificent and deceptively difficult play. It was my own Kismet.

I worked hard at raising the money for a production in New York and a developmental production at a regional theatre outside of New York to then transfer to New York. It was exciting but it also helped keep me in New York with my sister – whose illness ultimately, tragically, proved to be terminal.

With the theatrical plans, I got very very close to getting a production together. But the distance between very very close and definitely going forward is a gaping abyss – one neither I, nor the people I was working with, could leap over. With the death of my sister, I was unable to continue with SYNCOPATION – or with much else for a good while.

Allan, who is a tremendous (and sometimes prickly) human being who I dearly love, decided that he would not pursue other productions of SYNCOPATION after my option lapsed, hoping that at some point, all my hard work and heartache would still come to fruition. He recently told me that he had kept the play for me.

In picking up the play again, I decided that the main thing would be to get a production on – and realistically, I had more of a chance in my home country than I did in my homeland at this point. Having had such a great experience in Melbourne with CAFÉ REBETIKA! both artistically and holistically and wanting to work with some of the same team again, I secured a spot at Chapel Off Chapel and, well, here we go!

I have to say that raising money for a play in Australia is just as hard as in New York. However, this time the money has come and we going to give it a red hot go. Henry and Anna are amazing characters. The power of their imaginations, fueled by the passions and their willingness to take risks, provide me now, even as I am writing this, with a surge of inspiration. It is a message that is universal and never tires in the telling because imagination, passion and daring are all fundamental to our survival – both as a species, and as individuals. Without sources of imagination, passion and daring in our lives, our ability to deal with the big issues, from climate change to poverty to racism, is severely diminished. And as the story of Henry and Anna in SYNCOPATION so brilliantly expresses, the world changes one person at a time.

This one’s for you, Sis.