5 Questions with Yannick Lawry and George Zhao

Yannick Lawry

Yannick Lawry

George Zhao: Sum up the character of Screwtape in 5 words or less.
Yannick Lawry: Mad, bad, dangerous to know…

CS Lewis doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to saying what he believes about the world. Playing the character of Screwtape, what is the most confronting thing you say in your personal opinion?
I think one idea Lewis presents is that we, as human beings, are not the ones in ultimate control or our circumstances. That’s massively confronting to many of us (me included!) One line that makes me think every time I utter it is when Screwtape talks about a ‘patient’ he recently captured by distracting him all the time and the patient’s words as he arrive in Screwtape’s kingdom are: “I now see that I spent most of my life doing neither what I ought nor what I liked”. A line that often comes into my head when I’m mindlessly flicking through the news feed on my phone..

You have about 75 mins of dialogue to learn for this show. How on earth did you manage that?
Um.. well, I don’t mind the sound of my own voice so I record each letter and listen to it back again and again until it sticks. Fortunately, Lewis’s train of thoughts and arguments follow nice, logical lines so they’re easy to map out and don’t take too long to sink in!

You’ve done a heap of theatre in London and Sydney but if you could replay any of your past performances which one would it be?
One of the first roles I played in London was Hamlet. He’s such an existentially-challenged brat; but I love the journey he goes on and the range he gives an actor to play in. Being in my late-30s, I probably need to get onto it quickly if I want to give him another shot!

It’s my round, what are you drinking?
If it’s cocktail hour and your budget will stretch to it, a Negroni. Otherwise a VB is just fine, thanks!

George Zhao

George Zhao

Yannick Lawry: Sum up your show, The Screwtape Letters, for us in 5 words or less!
George Zhao: Who’s pulling the strings, then?

What are the habits of a successful actor in your opinion?
Good question! In my humble opinion, they are:
– Knowing what success means to you personally and striving to achieve it.
– Constantly improving on your skill sets and on yourself.
– Allowing yourself time to rest .
– Most importantly, you need to genuinely love to those around you. I really can’t stress enough how much of an impact that has on people!

In The Screwtape Letters, you play a demon and the human “patient” – how do you separate out the two characters when playing them so close together?
I like to flow into the characters via physicality, once i move into the character a certain way, the voice, objectives and history of that character follow.

So, you recently filmed the second season of the awesome SBS series The Family Law – any gems from behind the scenes that you can share with us?
I’m actually still in the process of filming it while I write this! I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with all the people on this production, they are all incredibly loving and willing to help those around them without a second thought, and the catering is AMAZING! As the cast, we have this set of dances which are hilarious when we all do them together. I started a dance in front of the camera during a break in the scene last week, being silly and whatnot, and as I turned around i saw that the *entire* family were behind me doing the dance as well. I’m really hoping the camera was rolling, would be hilarious to watch that back!

You’re touring this show to Melbourne and Canberra after Sydney – where (and why!) are your favourite hangouts in those cities?
Can you believe, I’ve never ever been to Melbourne. So I’m open to suggestions! And the last time I was in Canberra was when I was a kid. So this tour will be significant for me in a whole bunch of ways.

Yannick Lawry and George Zhao will be appearing in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
Dates: 22 Nov – 10 Dec, 2016
Venue: Seymour Centre