Daniel Monks: What does this play mean to you?
Aleks Mikić : Aside from pressing burning buttons about what it takes to be a soulful, contributing human; Are We Awake is a mesmerising insight into human relationships. This wide, not-so-simple-to-navigate spectrum of ‘relationship’: from strangers to lovers – from isolated independence, through our balanced interdependence all the way to dependency has pros and cons on each end and this play masterfully swathes us through the ups and downs of love. All through the lens of one couples morning, in a deeply detailed, flawed and beautiful relationship. I’d love to say more but subjective spoilers ensue…
Not only are you an amazing actor, but you’re also an incredible rapper, singer & musician – how does your experience and connection to music effect your acting, and vice versa?
That’s very kind of you D Monks! Awh man. Well, we feel it as a viewer; art & performance is either embodied or it’s not. It’s swamped in truth and it hits the spot; or it’s drowning in ego and hits little. “I’ve gotta get this right/skilfully executed/made to look beautiful”. In regards to your q, every shortcoming on stage whether with a microphone in hand, at a drum kit, or in another humans clothes lends itself to growth. Inversely every moment of bravery lends itself to collective courage. Singing against misogyny with a tear falling out of the eye takes giving a fuck less if it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do. With our layers of vulnerability uncovered we shed layers of ego and this takes us ever closer to truth.
What about working on new plays do you find the most thrilling and the most challenging?
How fascinating getting to the core elements of a play as a team; finessing work for the context it is set for; (in this case, a 40min slot at the Old Fitz) and coming out with a product in the end. From the get go, Charlie had written an absolutely brilliant story which made it all the more enjoyable. It was a new experience. I’d never been in that seat, as an actor, free to be heard about what this person may say more or less of in a given situation; and then actually go and say it, night after night. The only evident challenge was locking things in and in time. There was no hardcover copy that said “I am final. This is what your team is telling.” I think we got there though. We got hard in the end…
Who are your dream artistic collaborators?
Aw man the list is large. I could ramble but to name a few… David Lynch, Anderson .Paak, Jordan Rakei, Esperanza Spalding, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Stevie Wonder, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, David Fincher, Peter Jackson, Ramble McHadenough, Yükant B. Serious
What do you love about Endymion, and what frustrates you?
Endymion is a kind soul. Love. Endymion almost gives his soul away. Frustration.
Aleks Mikić : What was your first performance experience?
Daniel Monks: I would say I came out of the womb performing – but my first performance experience was actually pre-birth, as the unborn fetus in my mother’s belly for her one-woman show, From Here To Maternity, which she performed when she was seven-months pregnant with me. I was really very good; natural, convincing, completely lacked any self-consciousness. My first conscious performance however was Peter Pan in year 2, which I “adapted” into a musical for my class to put on, with myself playing Peter – despite my horrendous singing voice.
What drew you to Are We Awake?
As an actor who is also physically disabled and gay, I was obviously drawn to this play as it explores both queerness & disability from a fresh perspective. More than that though, what most drew me most was its exploration of relationships. The play explores a really pertinent dilemma for a lot of disabled people of; how do you not let your relationships fall into unhealthy codependency, when at times, by necessity, you are dependent on the other for survival. The way in which Charles O’Grady explores this in his writing I find to be incredibly authentic and true to life.
You quake souls into awareness; what’s the first port of call?
Connection. When a person truly connects with another person, no matter their differences, their prejudices can’t survive. What I find so thrilling and motivating about being an actor and a storyteller is the ability to allow audiences to connect and empathise with people they might have otherwise judged. Being a double minority, I know incredibly well what it is like to be perceived as an “other”. Only through empathy and connection can we celebrate our differences and truly understand how at our cores, we are all the same and we are all connected. That’s what I think anyway.
If there were 10 days left on Earth; how would you spend yours?
With my family. Without a doubt. I would spend my final days snuggled up on the couch with them watching mindless tv, playing board games, going to the beach, and just being with them. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My family are my favourite people in the world. Nothing like almost dying as an 11 year old to make you truly appreciate those you love, and become bonded like no other. I’m very grateful to have them.
Give us 4 bars from the mind of Hypnos?
I’m all alone.
I wish I was what you wanted.
I don’t want to be brave anymore.
I deserve this.
(At the time of the play, Hypnos is not the happiest of chappies haha.)
Daniel Monks and Aleks Mikić can be seen in Are We Awake by Charles O’Grady.
Dates: 28 Feb – 11 Mar, 2017
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre