Jessica Paterson: You’ve been involved with The Laden Table longer than I have. What has been your experience of the project so far?
Mansoor Noor: Not much longer, however the last development occurred before the election and I remember reading the play with the cast for the first time after Trump was announced POTUS and, sadly, finding even more relevance in what was being said, for example in a line as simple as, “after all you’re a man of Middle Eastern appearance, I’m surprised they let you back into the country.”
Do you relate to your character?
Other than having a complicated relationship with an attractive girlfriend (that’s right, Jess) I have a lot in common with Mousa. Sad face. He’s a boy who’s grown up in a somewhat religious Middle Eastern family, with sometimes narrow-minded perspectives on race and religion that have formed over a long period of war and displacement, and has had to develop his own understanding of the world through his personal experiences.
You’re a pretty top-notch photographer, I’ve heard. Do you approach your two art forms similarly?
Suzy is definitely going to think I’m using her blog to market myself. What of it Suzy? (Please don’t give me a bad review based on this empty threat). I guess working as a photographer sort of requires me to tap into a bit of the actor’s “director brain”. It’s important to make sure the artist isn’t tense and to help them find a thought process instead of becoming self-conscious / going into their own head. If you want to see just how relaxed people look in my photos you can find them at http://www.mansoornoor.com – thanks Suzy 😉 (Ed’s note: invoice in the mail, pal xx)
If you could swap lives with anyone else in the world for a day, who would it be and why?
I don’t want to get political… or I would say Mr. Turnbull and talk about letting in the refugees, which is actually a theme in the play… so I’ll say Mr. Trump. Not even to permanently reverse his numerous numb-headed executive orders but just so I can hang pictures of mini Trump all over the White House, and upscale stationary such as staplers and pens in the hope of giving him an even larger “small hands” complex. See, that wasn’t so political.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done on stage?
One time during Drama School I wheeled a bed onto the stage instead of a couch. It was third year American scene work… and fortunately it wasn’t my scene. I was also once caught playing UNO off-stage with my scene partner by an audience member during a very intense scene on stage. I didn’t even win 😦
Mansoor Noor: Why is it important to tell this story?
Jessica Paterson: This story looks at racism and cultural understanding in Australia from an intimate perspective. We’re all well versed in the absurdities of Trump and One Nation. But what happens when the people disagreeing with us are those we love the most?
Do you relate to your character?
I definitely relate to Ruth. She’s intellectual and critical of her world, but is a really emotional creature as well. And she can (mostly) keep her shit together. I love that sense of competency, of coping with the situations that are thrown her way. But she also has a complex religious and cultural background that is quite different to my own, which has been fascinating to explore.
Food is a really important aspect in the show. What’s your favourite food in the show?
Oh man. I love all the foods, but in rehearsals I’ve had my first experience with Challah, which I’m really enjoying getting into every night. It’s delicious!
Do you enjoy working with Mansoor? Tell us about how great he is.
Yeah, he’s alright.
What’s the strangest acting relating thing you’ve ever done?
Once I was housesitting and my friends had a whole wall of photo frames that they’d hung but not filled with pictures yet. So I filled them all with my headshots.
Mansoor Noor and Jessica Paterson can be seen in The Laden Table.
Dates: 10 – 25 March, 2017
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre