5 Questions with Chenoa Deemal and Ildiko Susany

Chenoa Deemal

Chenoa Deemal

Ildiko Susany: What is your dream role to play?
Chenoa Deemal: I’m not African or Egyptian, so this dream will probably never come to pass (and I’m completely ok about it because it’s always better if the correct nationality plays a historical role) but Cleopatra has always been my dream role. I really just hope that one day soon we’ll see a woman of colour play her.

What is the most interesting thing about playing Jessie in A Man With Five Children?
Jessie ages throughout the show from 7 to 35, what’s really interesting and challenging is making the subtle shifts between ages. For example, in one scene Jessie is age 14 and the next she’s 15, what’s interesting and exciting is finding the mental and emotional transition between these two scenes, this happens throughout the play and for me, it’s what makes the rehearsal process much more enjoyable.

If a documentary was made about your life, what aspect of it would you want them to focus on? Why?
I grew up on a remote mine site in Far North Queensland called Cape Flattery, I’d love to do a documentary recreating all the fun/silly things we did as kids. I’d like to show the rest of the country a different perspective of growing up in Australia and show that it doesn’t matter where you start in life, as long as you finish where you want to. Narrated by Morgan Freeman of course. Or would the more interesting choice be Dave Chappelle?

What is your relationship to social media?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I like that you can keep in contact with colleagues, family and old friends but more and more I feel that I prefer to not be on social media at all. To put it simply I feel it’s much better for my peace of mind. I think we’re becoming obsessed with following other peoples lives and projecting what we want other’s to see about our lives.

A Man With Five Children is set before the Facebook/social media phenomenon took over the world but it’s so interesting to look at this play in terms of that obsession. Initially the characters have no control over how they’re perceived by rest of the country but as they get older they realise that they want to change the labels they’ve been placed under. It’s the same with social media, we’re constantly projecting what we think is the best version of ourselves and more and more I’m finding it exhausting and boring.

What is your ideal vision for Australia in ten years time?
Very simply, I hope that Australia evolves into a country that is not controlled by fear of the unknown and more into a society that embraces differences with open ears and open hearts. Easy, isn’t it?

Ildiko Susany

Ildiko Susany

Chenoa Deemal: If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Ildiko Susany: It’s so hard to choose just one! I would love telepathy and telekinesis. Although, flying and invisibility would be really advantageous too… I want to be in a superhero movie! I really want to do my own fight scenes and action sequences!

What do you hope the audience will be thinking about as they drive home after the show?
This play is so epic and expansive. I want audiences to have their own debate about whatever themes rouse them to action and conversation. Personally, I am very interested in the evolution, complexities and unravelling of the constructed relationships within the play; the abuse of power; the pursuit of art and at what cost; the desire to leave a legacy. What also sparks my interest – based on the documentary focus of this play – is how we as a technologically advanced society construct our identity and present it to the rest of the world and how in this globalised community where it is so easy to instantly ‘connect’ with one another, we remain some of the loneliest people on this planet – concealed behind a screen with no true sense of purpose or community. What does it mean to have a tangible, mature and unguarded human connection? What is there to gain? To lose? Are we too terrified to be for others the human being we are deep within – the one unfettered by barriers; truthful, open, exposed?

What do you love about your character Annie?
I love Annie’s strength, resilience and generosity of spirit. She’s a tough woman and she’s down to earth. She’s doing all she can to keep her family together and rise above all of the challenges preventing her from pursuing her own aspirations for herself.

What do you dislike about Annie?
I’m probably defending my character too much – but I love her! I think she makes a poor choice in the play but she’s trapped in a very complex, challenging and heart-wrenching of circumstances. She is really trying to do her best to keep her family together and to keep them (and herself) afloat. She is just keeping her head above water when she’s losing the will to keep treading water. Despite her family, she is ultimately isolated, unsupported and alone.

In a movie about your life, who would play you?
I would really love a postmodern rendering of my life where different actors play me at various points in my life: Ilana Glazer, Idris Elba, Mary Louise Parker, Ray Chong Nee, Mariska Hargitay, Chiaki Kuriyama and maybe a cameo from Amal Clooney (although she’s not an actor)… and perhaps myself even! I would definitely want actors of colour in my biopic – no one is going to whitewash my story!

Chenoa Deemal and Ildiko Susany can be seen in A Man With Five Children by Nick Enright.
Dates: 3 – 26 June, 2016
Venue: Eternity Playhouse