Meet The Makers: Joel Tobeck

Meet The Makers: Joel Tobeck

Published: Thursday 20 July, 2023


Coming off the back of a whirlwind return season and tour of The Worm and highly successful pre-Covid tour of Mr Red Light, Nightsong are bringing their newest and freshest story to the stage with two of Aotearoa’s most sought-after actors for I Want to Be Happy.

We had the chance of sitting down with leads Jennifer Ludlam and Joel Tobeck to talk inspiration, aspirations and all things I Want to be Happy. Check It out below:

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Joel Tobeck

Photo Credit: Ralph Brown


With a career spanning 35+ years, Tobeck has enjoyed a stellar career in film, television, and theatre. In theatre, he has worked in all genres from Shakespeare to Musical Theatre. His nearly two dozen film appearances, ranging from whimsical comedy to intense drama and modern horror (Lord of the Rings, One Lane Bridge, 30 days of Night), has seen him work extensively both in New Zealand, Australia, and the US. Tobeck first worked with Nightsong on A Stab in the Dark.


Introduce yourself and your arts practice.
Hi my name is Joel Tobeck. I am an actor, musician and voice over artist.


What’s your favourite thing about you do?
The people I get to work with. I love talented and creative people, from all artistic backgrounds. My friends in the creative world are lifelong. To be able to work with people I admire, in this case Ben Crowder, Carl Bland and of course Jennifer Ludlam, is an absolute treat.


What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
The not knowing when the next gig will be. It’s both invigorating and terrifying all at the same time.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be early. Know your lines. Don’t be an a-hole.


What’s the best show you’ve seen this year? 
Portrait Artist of the Year. 1883. The White Lotus.


Who are your favourite artists/theatre companies/musicians etc. and why?
Prince was my hero. I’m a passionate guitar player and he could do it all. The best rhythm player I’ve ever heard. His funk playing was sublime. Alvin ‘Kofi’ Ferris is my favourite artist at the moment. He is who I would want to be if I could paint.


Tell us about I Want to Be Happy.
It’s about laboratory guinea pig and the lab assistant who looks after her. They don’t understand a word each other is saying. They express their hopes and their fears and the things that would make them both, in their co-existing worlds… Happy.


What can audiences expect from I Want to Be Happy?
Nightsong always make unique and wonderfully courageous theatre. With Ben Crowder’s vision and Carl Bland’s writing the two have created an unapologetic theatre template that is always a visual, emotional and intellectual feast.


The not knowing when the next gig will be. It’s both invigorating and terrifying all at the same time.


Intrigued? Buy your tickets now

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