5 Questions with Geraldine Hakewill and Amy Ingram

Geraldine Hakewill

Geraldine Hakewill

Amy Ingram: This play explores the friendships and relationships of women and how they view each other and themselves. Do you recognise yourself in any of the women or the relationships they share?
Geraldine Hakewill: I recognise myself in all three women, and I’ve definitely experienced the sorts of relationships they share: the jealousy, the awkwardness, the passive-aggressive conversations, the solidarity, the depth of love and affection, the fragility, the dangerous unpredictability and the profound trust. I think most women will recognise it all too. That is the brilliance of this play and why it still works. I really get Mary’s over-analysis and anger at the world. I completely identify with Jo’s self-loathing coupled with positivity. And Celia is basically me, on crack. Not really. (But really).

Feminism seems to be making its way back into the forefront of social media, how do you think this play looks at feminism in today’s current political climate?
I think what is fascinating about us doing this play right now is that so little has changed since Claire McIntyre wrote it back in 1989. That’s very frightening. Beauty is still the strongest currency in this world, and women are still afraid when we walk down the street at night because we might get attacked, simply for being female. This isn’t OK. What has changed is that it feels like social media has been taken up as a tool to unite feminists around the world, be they male or female, and allow people to have a voice in order to educate and to argue and to discuss. I think that’s brilliant. As much as the anonymity of Twitter and Facebook allows for trolling and abuse, it also allows people who aren’t public figures and who never thought they could participate in a public discussion, to share their stories and create awareness. This production has been updated by Justin (Martin, our director) so that we are referencing this shift. We aren’t changing Claire’s words, but we are bring her text into this era of modern technology and we’re trying to explore how media and technology has changed feminism and the discussion around it- for better and for worse. It feels more immediate and relevant than almost any other play I’ve ever done.

Your character is very particular about her routine and products. If you could take one of those products and make it do anything in the world what would it do?
Well, what if my ocean fresh exfoliating shower gel could somehow make me invisible? I think that’d be pretty amazing. I’m such a secret snoop, and I’ve always loved the idea of being a spy. This would be really helpful. Even if it was just 45 minutes worth of invisibility. Plenty of time for spy-stuffs. And well worth the $5.99.

If you met Celia out at a bar what do you think she would be doing? What would you two get up to in the course of the night?
I think she’d be waiting for a Tinder date. She’d be looking pretty hot. She’d be nervous-sweating but she would have worn extra strong antiperspirant and so she’d still smell fresh. She’d be sitting alone at the bar. I’d be with a group of friends at a booth after a day of rehearsals. I use hippy deodorant so I would not be as fresh as her. Her date is two hours late but she’s stubborn. She waits. She’d look forlornly over to our group as we laughed too loudly at some private ‘actor’ joke that no one else will ever find funny. I’d go to buy a round of drinks and she’d comment on my jeans. They fit well. Thanks, I’d say. It’s really hard to find the perfect jean. She’d agree. By the end of the night we are singing Celine Dion karaoke together at 4am and promising to be best friends for life. We never see each other again. But, I’ll always be impressed that she knew all the words to “It’s All Coming Back To Me.”

If your life was a midday movie what would the title be?
“It’s All Coming Back to Me.” It’d just be a series of musical flashbacks and dream ballet sequences. You can be in it Amy, if you like. We can do a pas de deux.

Amy Ingram

Amy Ingram

What was so special about this role that made you want to come down from Brisbane to do it?
First off it was more about working with Kate as I had not seen her in ages and always thought it would be great to work with her. She seemed so excited about the project I was immediately intrigued. Then I read the script and laughed out load at so many points I knew that was a good sign. I am extremely interested in roles where women are the central focus and their character journey is more than a supporting role for some 40 year old dudes mid life crisis. The fact that this show also looks how we view ourselves in the world meant I was basically hooked! On a side not it is always exciting to work with new people, in new places and venues – I think it makes you a better artist.

The play was written and is set in the 80s in England. Do you think we’re managing to do a good job of setting it in 2016 in Australia? And how?
Unfortunately most of the conversations we have now about equality and how women are objectified to the point of violence are exactly the same. All that has changed is the context and medium or lens used. The rise of social media and the fact that more and more women are moving into higher positions of power (HURRAHHHH!) means that we are some cases seeing the extent to sexism in a much clearer light. So basically – Yes – I think we are doing a good job of it because the world is often doing a shit job of shutting sexism down. When I first read the script I was surprised at how old it was and I think you can’t help but put a contemporary context on it because we are living here and now and our lives and experiences fuel our choices on stage

What do you think the title, Low Level Panic refers to?
Welcome to the everyday world people. We are in a constant fret about our appearance , what people think about us, what we think of ourselves. This is not exclusive to women. But you add onto that the fear some women face everyday in their own homes. The simple choice of trying not to walk home when it is dark. Asking yourself if the dress you are wearing is going to invite negative attention, crossing the road when you run because because you don’t want to get heckled . And I know some people reading this will say I’m blowing it out of proportion and #notallmen. And that’s true. It’s absolutely true . But then why does what I mention still happen more frequently than you’d think and why do we still feel this way?

What’s your favourite thing about being Amy Ingram?
Now why would I give away that info for free? Come to the show and have a drink with me afterwards and find out for yourself…

You really don’t like wearing pants, but if you had to wear pants every day of your life, describe your ideal pair. They can be magical.
Pants that make me fly. Or time travel. Pants that can take me to some tropical island whenever I wish. Now those are pants I can get around. Also pants that whenever I reach into the pockets there are wads of money inside. I’d bloody never take them off.

Geraldine Hakewill and Amy Ingram can both be seen in Low Level Panic by Clare McIntyre.
Dates: 12 July – 12 August, 2016
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre