5 Questions with Lou Pollard and Tim Hansen

Lou Pollard

Tim Hansen: What was your first Shakespearean role on stage?
Lou Pollard: Portia in The Merchant Of Venice when I was a teenager questioning my entire life. My mum’s family were very religious and I spent years going to Sunday school at my grandparent’s church. So I have a lot of hymns and prayers in my head that don’t mean much to me! This play was the first time I actually understood the biblical concept of God teaching man to show mercy to fellow human beings. “Though justice be thy plea, consider this, That, in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; And that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.”

Who is your favourite Shakespearean villain?
I do love Lady Macbeth, but is she a villain, or just a woman with the strength to stand by what she believes, and do what the men around her do not have the courage to carry out? She reminds me of British PM Margaret Thatcher, a woman with a hard heart and strong convictions surrounded by powerful men. Or maybe she was just a complete cow with no empathy whatsoever. Humans are
very complicated beings, Shakespeare understood this so well. “Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood. / Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse

How are you preparing for the show?
I’m feeling very white bread, so I’m listening to rap tracks. My youngest daughter loves Nicki Minaj so I’ve had her on repeat at home. I’ve also been reading monologues and sonnets, and I read Bill Bryson’s book Shakespeare: The World As Stage which is a fascinating look at the history of the time and where Shakespeare was living when he wrote most of his work.

What monologue are you prepping, and why did you choose it?
I’ve picked my favourite sonnet because I want to play with the rhythm of it. I’ve been a big Eminem fan for a long time and I’m thrilled I’ve got the opportunity to maybe bring my humour and
sense of play to a ‘serious’ work. Some acting friends who are well-versed in Shakespeare feel that the sonnet I’ve chosen is a bit of a downer, but I think it ends on a really positive note. I first learnt the sonnet 25 years ago and as I age it becomes more of a truth in my life than ever before.

Why do you think Shakespeare still resonates with audiences after all these years?
Shakespeare was so smart and funny and understood that relationships are tricky. His writing conveys that he understood the complexity of humans and the tangled, messy lives we lead. His
sense of humour was so sharp and his observations of the frailties of human life were so acute, that we still understand when he says, “to be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep– No more–and by a sleep to say we end. The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” That’s why I love working with the Leftovers. Their clever shows provoke an audience to question how we as a society deal with gender roles, crime, racism & intolerance; the same issues that Shakespeare was writing about.

Tim Hansen

Lou Pollard: When did you fall in love with Shakespeare?
Tim Hansen: I was first meaningfully exposed to Shakespeare in high school and it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Like a lot of high school students I could not understand why we had to trawl through this archaic language and try to understand it and write essays on it and pick apart conceits and sonnets and metaphors. It wasn’t until I was in year 9 and my school participated in the Shakespeare competition (is that still a thing? I went to school last century) that I really began to “get” Shakespeare. I grew up in a country town and there were really limited opportunities to get up on stage and perform, so when my English teacher said there was a competition that involved being on stage and performing I was totally in – I would have been happy reciting the ingredients on a box of clothes detergent as long as there was an audience. My group performed Act 3 Scene V from Romeo And Juliet, where Capulet rages at Juliet because she won’t marry Paris. I was Capulet. I remember walking around and around my backyard with my script in hand reciting the lines to myself in order to learn them, and I remember loving it because the language had this rhythm to it that just kind of synced with my steps and sunk into my brain like a hot ball bearing into butter. To this day I can still remember my opening lines. So studying it in English sucked all the fun out of it, but once I got up on stage to perform it, I got it. Now, I read Shakespeare for my own personal pleasure. It’s calming and beautiful. I love it.

Why did you want to work with the Leftovers Collective?
I’m a weird performer. I have a theatre degree but have kind of patchy actor training. My main vocation is actually music composition, and music is where I spend most of my creative
headspace. Music is my job, whilst theatre is my passion, and though I love my job I miss getting up on stage. Plus although I love conventional director/actor/script/audience set ups, I’m very attracted to experimental collaborative processes where no one’s really sure what’s going to happen. And then, suddenly, there’s a collective that takes you as you are, that doesn’t ask for you to strictly mould yourself around the requirements of one person’s vision but instead says “what are all the things you can do? Let’s find a way to make theatre together”. That kind of thing is totally my cup of tea.

What’s your favourite Shakespearean insult?
For sheer overall relentlessness you can’t go past the interactions between Kate and Petruchio in The Taming Of The Shrew – I think it was a production of that play by Bell Shakespeare way back in like 2000/2001 I saw that was the first time I laughed out loud from beginning to end at a Shakespearean play. But I think my favourite would have to be from Troilus And Cressida: “Thou hast no more brain than I have in my elbows”. Brutal.

Are you a trained dancer? Will you be dressed in dance gear for the show?
Um I am most certainly not a trained dancer. I move like a rusty clothes line blowing in a gale. So yes I will absolutely be dressed like a tragic reject from Wham!

Where would you most like to perform this show?
I have this vision of us all getting together in some deserted car park and having an 80’s style dance-off with boom boxes and breakdancing like at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Bad video clip. Except please don’t ask me to breakdance. I’ll just break.

Lou Pollard and Tim Hansen are appearing in Shakespeakre Dance Party, with The Leftovers Collective.
Dates: 11 March, 2018
Venue: Hustle & Flow Bar, Redfern