Liam Nunan: If you could have the career of any other actor, who would that be?
Jacki Mison: Sigourney Weaver because I was a huge sci-fi fan growing up and Ripley was my idol! She’s tough, funny, smart and able to move across genres, stage and screen.
As a producer and actor, what drew you to putting on Orphans?
I had seen a fantastic production of Orphans done a few years ago by the Queensland Theatre Company and it was one of those shows that really stayed with me for a long time. The intensity of it, Dennis Kelly’s particular style of dialogue and the moral dilemma at the core of it, for my character Helen, led me to try and secure a production. It was also in a completely different ballpark to the last show I had produced, which was an American comedy, so it felt right to switch things up.
Tell us about Helen. What excites you most about playing her?
I love the fact that she is a survivor. She is one of those people who are capable of doing the things that need to be done. But the personal cost, while not always evident, eventually bubbles up. She’s incredibly complex and has a fascinating arc throughout the play.
If, when you died, you could come back as any character in theatre, who would it be?
Would love to be one of the witches from Macbeth!
What character or production in your body of work are you most proud of?
My Subway commercial…
Jacki Mison: Dennis Kelly has written an intense, fast-moving play with Orphans. What has been your biggest challenge with the role of Liam so far?
Liam Nunan: Understanding Liam’s thought process. The play is written in a sort of chaotic frenzy of interrupting dialogue and if the rhythm isn’t spot on, the whole thing can come crashing down. You need to be hyper aware of what words trigger your impulse to launch over the other characters’ lines. Liam also changes his thought process faster than he has time to verbally articulate it. So he very often doesn’t finish his thoughts at all and talks himself in circles. So to answer your question; the acting bit.
Do you choose particular underpants for each character you play?
Great question, Jacki. Not by myself. I like to think it’s a collaborative process. I prefer to get the designers input early on before rehearsals begin and have some renderings sketched up to put forward to the director. If we can’t come to an agreement I usually get my agent involved. Surprisingly, most of the time, no one but me cares.
Who are the actors that most inspire you?
I’m inspired by actors that allow themselves to be inspired. I don’t know who said ‘Don’t be interesting. Be interested’ (or something like that) but the same can be said here. I love watching and working with actors that are open and ready to be inspired. They allow themselves to be changed by you and respond so organically, you can’t help but be changed by them.
What’s been your most embarrassing moment on stage so far?
In drama school we had just finished our first production open to the general public, The Winter’s Tale. We ran on for our curtain call, bowed, and ran off. In the wings everyone turned and ushered me to run back on to lead a second curtain call. ‘That makes sense’, I thought. ‘The audience have just sat through 3 and a half hours of 2nd year student actors doing Shakespeare whilst dressed as cowboys with southern American accents. It’s likely the best thing they’ve seen this year. I sure think it is. Of course they want more’. So I bounded back on stage. Half the audience were already making there way up the aisle. I look around, and of course I’m alone, dressed as Old Shepherd. The cast laugh. The audience look back and they laugh. Everyone laughs.
There was also the time in year 12 I had a testy blow out while I was singing ‘Maria’ in West Side Story.
If you had a choice of any role, stage or screen, what would it be?
Believe it or not, Liam in Orphans by Dennis Kelly. I’ve wanted to do this play for a while now. I saw a brilliant production of it at QTC a number of years back. I was absolutely shaken by it. I picked it up and read it maybe a year later and I was still just as moved. I thought ‘I must play this role’. I jumped at the opportunity and I’m thrilled I’ve been given the chance to play with such a complex character.
Jacki Mison and Liam Nunan can be seen in Orphans by Dennis Kelly.
Dates: 19 -30 April, 2016
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre