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Kai Raisbeck on Happiness – Griffin Artist Blog Excerpt


Before we start, a little about me I suppose:

My name is Kai Raisbeck and I am a theatre and filmmaker originally from small town Tasmania. I recently graduated from the directing course at NIDA and was an Affiliate Director with Griffin Theatre Company in 2011. Current works include directing The Hiding Place by Kendall Feaver at atyp’s Under the Wharf season (find more details on the show on the pozible campaign page: and performing in Sleeping Horses Lie by Max Mellor, Terrpain Puppet Theatre (find more details here:

Upon starting this blog, the question that continued to come to mind was: Why am I doing this?

A few nights ago I found myself in that very familiar but still awkward scenario that we as artists must endure… an opening night foyer. The film Yapawarnti Palu Rijikarrijani(Children Playing) that I had made last year was lucky enough to have been accepted into the St Kilda Film Festival and I, of course, headed down to Melbourne to rub shoulders. It was a great opening night event, with many intriguing and exciting new short films.

After the screening we headed over to the after opening party. Amongst the bustle of 700 filmmakers struggling to find a drink (when they ran out of glasses I thought there might be a riot!), I introduced myself to Dave Lawson, one of the stars of the short film ‘Bonny Doon’. Although we only talked for short while he mentioned to me that he was surprised at the lack of importance comedy seemed to have at the moment and at how little was being made. This was a relief to hear from myself, as my area of interest at the present is comedy and fun in film and theatre and its role in entertaining whilst changing/informing/inspiring an audience. We talked a little more before parting ways back into the crowd, but not before he had planted that seed of inspiration to reignite my mission in art: Happiness.

Fundamentally my personal artistic manifesto has been to explore the idea of Happiness in its many varied and complex states and definitions and to (hopefully) inspire an impetus to bring it to the forefront of the audiences’ priorities in life. I’ll admit it has been a difficult process, when tackling ideas as broad as Happiness there are so many variables in everyone’s individual perception of each of these emotions or states that it becomes muddy quickly. It was easy for me to be discouraged. It has led me to many discussions, arguments and long bloviated conversations late into the night nursing my favourite cup of cabernet flavoured liquid depressant.

Late one night a friend told me the story of their partner, who was a heavy aviation enthusiast. My friend told me he recently learnt about the concept of auto pilot, the idea that the plane has the information of the departure and destination point and draws the most efficient pathway and follows it as closely as it can. However even the computer operated autopilot is off course 95% of the journey, constantly needing to make minor adjustments for wind, storms and air pockets. He said that whenever he had doubts that he would get through something, he consoled himself by the thought ‘I am still on going in the right direction, I just need to make a small adjustment to get back on track’. After this story, it seems my manifesto now seems to be skewing more towards the idea of striving towards happiness in order to achieve balance and/or vice versa. My only hope is in future years to be able to see this stream of thought emerging from my works as an artist and to perhaps inspire others to do similar. What I find important to myself about this concept of the manifesto that I was encouraged to think about, it gives me a direction to head with the body of my work, but it’s still very open to evolution.

At the moment I am in the design phase of the production ofThe Hiding Place a new Australian work by the talented playwright Kendall Feaver. The season begins 30th August to 15th September. The Hiding Place is inspired by stories of sheltered children found in both magical folklore and the modern day world. Delightful, intelligent and mysterious, this play tells the tale of a girl who has not left her attic room for many years. My challenge with this play is now to find that stream of my manifesto within the story and to highlight it, even from the beginnings of the design process.

We are running a few fundraisers for the event – the next one planned planned is actually a film festival that was created last year to raise funds for a show that I was co-producing at the New Theatre. The film festival again is supporting independent artists by raising funds not just for The Hiding Place but also for The Arts Platform, a new multifunctional space opening in Surry Hills in the coming months. To find out more information about the festival go to the

I am so thrilled to be working with this team on the first full-length production that I will be working on since graduating. It is an exciting part of the process and a daunting one in many ways but why am I doing this? Because it makes me happy, so I pursue it.

Before I leave, just a shameless plug for Dave Lawson’s Late Night Internet Talk Show, my cure all at the moment if I need to be cheered up:

The Night Whisperer & atyp Under the Wharf presesnt

The Hiding Place

Venue: atyp Studio 1, The Wharf, Walsh Bay, Sydney

Season: 30 August- 15 September 2012

Times: Tues-Sat at 8pm*, Sun 5pm, Fri 11.30am & Sat 2pm
(*note: no 8pm performance on Sat Sept 8th – only the 2pm matinee this day)

Tickets: $32.50 Full, $25 Concession/Group, $20 preview

Bookings: or 02 9270 2400

Cast: Caleb Alloway, Michele Durnam, Paul Hooper, Abi Rayment

Creative & Production team:
Writer: Kendall Feaver
Director: Kai Raisbeck
Costume & Set Designer: Gez Xavier Mansfield
Lighting Designer: Sara Swersky
Sound Designer: Nate Edmondson
Assistant Director: Liz Arday
Stage Manager: Jeremy Page
Producers: Mackenzie Steele & Shauntelle Benjamin