No Man’s Land by John Psathas-interview

No Man’s Land is a genre-defying “mega-project” composed by John Psathas and directed by Jasmine Millet. Through film and live performance, the work addresses aspects of World War I in a narrative that criss-crosses between the present-day homelands of the cultures that fought and the eerie settings of the historic European killing fields.

Psathas’s message is one of hope, in which the horrors of the conflict are compared and contrasted with the ease with which musicians of previously adversarial cultures can come together and immediately transcend unfamiliarity and language barriers to bring to life a new score.

No Man’s Land is co-produced by the New Zealand Festival and Victoria University of Wellington.


Below is an extensive interview in which John Psathas describes the unique challenges of bringing the No Man’s Land project from idea to fruition. From an idea stemming from a previous project, he tells of the process of gaining funding, assembling a production team, writing the score, getting musicians on board and then, with the assistance of three Victoria University Masters students interned to the project, filming and recording the musicians in a number of local and overseas locations.

The post-production work at Park Road Post Productions and premiere of the live show at the New Zealand Festival in Wellington are the most recent steps in a project that remains very much alive, with the prospect of further offshore performances.

SOUNZ wishes to thank John Psathas for inviting the Resound project to film the Wellington premiere and for his guidance in the editing process. Resound is funded by NZ On Air.