About 15 years ago, when I was a young teacher, I went to see a play at NIDA about an Italian family in England. As the audience entered we were confronted by the smell of food cooking, which engaged the audience in the fictional world of the play before it had even begun. I remember the actors chopping herbs and onions. I remember them cooking pasta and some sort of pasta sauce. The play began when the family sat down for the meal together. The big lesson I learned from this production as a young teacher/director was that you could elicit all the senses when creating theatre. Especially smell, which was the one sense that had never occurred to me.

The idea stayed with me, and a few years later I had the opportunity to direct a play (‘Sweet Road’ by Debra Oswald) set in the Australian landscape. I used the scent of eucalyptus leaves etc. and I had onions barbequing backstage with a fan blowing the scent into the audience.


caramelised onion, eucalyptus oil, smoke.


Mark Friend