5 Questions with Priscilla Jackman and Charles O’Grady

Priscilla Jackman

Charles O’Grady: What’s the most significant or surprising thing you’ve learned about trans people and gender identity through the process of making this show?
Priscilla Jackman: I’ve learnt so much on this journey but probably the most obvious thing has been correcting my previous misconception about the homogeneity of the trans community. In my
ignorance as a cisgender white woman, I assumed that trans people share common ground, common values, options etc. Of course, just like all facets of society there is enormous range and diversities within the trans community. Getting to know Catherine McGregor has been such an extraordinary revelation, because her experience and her journey has made me think, quite deeply about humanity and the commonality of our experience, as much as those aspects of her life which are so different to my own.

I find that every time I do a show like this – this one in particular! – I come away having learned or re-evaluated something about myself. Is there anything you’ve discovered over the course of this production that’s changed how you understand your own identity?
I guess a chief understanding and development for me has been an affirmation of the extraordinary collaborative process that making theatre is all about. Often as a director in the past, I have felt solely responsible for overseeing every aspect of a project, feeling I should have all the answers to everything. The most wonderful and humbling experience of working on this show has been to realise that in terms of my identity as a director, actually, the creative solutions have often been born through a deep and rich collaboration with all my team. Recognising the power of this collaboration and the creative strength and collective experience in the room has led to some of the most important creative break-through moments during rehearsals.

You and I have talked a lot about how beautiful and resonant Cate’s voice is. If you could have her read one book or play aloud to you, what would it be?
Apart from cricket, Catherine’s chief obsession is language – her love and faculty for language and storytelling is precisely what captivated and inspired me in the first place. She loves Shakespeare, the Greeks, can rattle off any number of famous military and political speeches verbatim, in a heartbeat. I love to hear her recount famous speeches – Robert Kennedy is a favourite. I love her love of poetry. But perhaps my favourite is her rendition of St Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. So to answer your question, I would love her to read Henry V to
me.

What element of this show are you most proud of?
There is so much to be grateful for, being involved in bringing this production to life. For me, one of the greatest gifts has been to work with the team. I have never felt as supported and connected to my design team and have absolutely loved and adored working with Michael Scott Mitchell and Nick Schlieper. I have learnt so much from them both. Working with Heather Mitchell has also been one of the most inspiring experiences of my professional life – all members of our team have given so much heart and soul to the work, it has been extraordinary. The day Cate arrived at our rehearsal room, unexpectedly and played cricket with the cast, was one of the proudest days of the rehearsal process – because in that moment everything made sense – the journey that
we have been on together, the importance of telling this extraordinary story, the grace and generosity of both Cate and the cast and the team. I think we all walked away from that day feeling very affirmed that this is indeed, a very special project and special opportunity.

How has making this show differed to other shows you’ve directed in the past?
There are many differences and many similarities. Differences lie in the experience of the team I have around me – including working with you Charles – my first ever Assistant Director! I have created new work in the past using adaptation processes, but this is the first play I have written using a verbatim methodology.

Charles O’Grady

Cate talks frequently about her idol and ‘talisman’, Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. Do you have a ‘Dravid’ in your professional or personal life, and if so, who?
I feel like I have several Dravids – most of whom would hate to be mentioned by name here! – in the sense that there are a lot of people in my life who have directly or indirectly kept me going, pulled me back from the edge in darker periods, reminded me there are reasons to keep surviving, or just been there when I needed calm and clarity. They all know who they are and they’re all rolling their eyes because, as Dravid says to Cate, “it was nothing” for them to show me kindness and support. I think often we don’t know who the “still points” in our chaos and turmoil are going to be until we find them and we’re clinging on for dear life. In terms of celebrity talismans I’ve carried with me in my life as a gender diverse person, Laura Jane Grace (lead singer of Against Me!) was a big one, as her album Transgender Dysphoria Blues was what gave me the courage to come out to my family. One time she tweeted me saying we were “BFFs”. It was amazing.

What about the text or the concept most excited you when we first discussed it?
There were two things that most got my blood running when reading the script and chatting to you about it. The first thing was that, despite our very different lives and worlds, I found a surprising number of similarities in my story and Cate’s story – something I wouldn’t have necessarily expected from someone who transitioned later in life, and who is involved in sports and the military! There’s so many moments in the script – some big, some minute – that felt to me like a hand reaching out and touching mine, like someone saying “I was there too, you’re not alone”. The second and possibly greater thing was that I saw a nuanced and complex portrayal of a trans person whose opinions I often disagree with. I love that I’ve been forced to re-examine some of my own pre-conceptions, that this is a play that constantly demands more from me, that gets me fired up and passionate. As a younger queer person, I can sometimes fall into the trap of forgetting there are multiple views within my community. Engaging with the words of someone who sees certain things differently to me, who also expresses her views so eloquently, has been as much an intellectual challenge as an emotional one.

Cate talks about cricket being a space for her where “everything just dissolves” and she feels congruent in her identity. Do you have any passions that have the same effect on you?
For me it’s always been dancing. I did ballet from age five to eighteen – I was never very technically proficient but I knew a lot about dance and loved every moment of it. For me, ballet, and dance generally, became a space free of gender – odd, as I was in classes exclusively with girls and we were constantly feminised. But the physical act of dancing was always about being a body moving in a space, and not being a gender – it was about making shapes and evoking stories, and I didn’t need to be a girl OR a boy to do that. Now, though, I find that I get the same euphoria of congruence when I sing.

What’s your favourite iconic ‘cricket sledge’?
Now that I’ve quite literally read the book on the noble Art of Sledging, I’d have to say my fave sledge is by Stephen Harold Gascoigne, better know as ‘Yabba’, who said to a fumbling batsman: “Bowl the bastard a grand piano and see if he can play that instead!”

Sum up this play in five words or less.
Chaos. Congruence. Cry-inducing. Cursing. Cate.

Priscilla Jackman is director, and Charles O’Grady is Assistant Director for Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor Story.
Dates: 21 April – 26 May, 2018
Venue: Wharf 1 Theatre

Review: Carmen, Live Or Dead (Oriel Entertainment Group)

Venue: Hayes Theatre Co (Potts Point NSW), Apr 28 – May 13, 2018
Music & Lyrics: iOTA
Book: Craig Harwood
Director: Shaun Rennie
Cast: Natalie Gamsu, Stefanie Jones, Andrew Kroenert
Images by David Hooley

Theatre review
It is true that Frida Kahlo had had an affair with Soviet politician Leon Trotsky, but it is entirely fictional that a lovechild was born as a result of that brief relationship. Nonetheless, Craig Harwood’s vividly imagined Carmen, Live Or Dead almost has us believing in its fantasy, that Kahlo’s offspring does exist, and that Carmen Frida Leon Davidovich had once lived in Australia.

It is an appealing fabrication; the idea that Kahlo’s magnificence lives on beyond her legendary paintings, and Harwood does create a persona that is as colourful and spirited as any fan could wish for, even if the writer’s plot structure has a tendency to be unnecessarily convoluted. Prominent in the presentation, are eight original songs by iOTA, all of them charming, often very quirky in style, and thankfully not too derivative of the Broadway genre.

Visually sumptuous, the production features a whimsical set, exquisitely decorated and painted by designer Dann Barber, evoking quintessential Mexican beauty, alongside enchanting imagery that pays tribute to the art of Kahlo. Benjamin Brockman’s lights are sensual and alluring, providing a sensation of transcendence that convincingly elevates the theatrical experience, whilst retaining its delicious and unique aura of street-smart griminess.

Director Shaun Rennie manufactures a series of captivating moods, allowing every scene to intrigue, with moments of visceral engagement that leave an impression. Performer Natalie Gamsu is a warm presence who shines in each song, but the character being portrayed does not always feel authentic; her true emotions are elusive and the connections we make can feel tentative. Stefanie Jones and Andrew Kroenert provide musical accompaniment, as well as actorly support, both accomplished with their contributions, for a show memorable for the surprising effectiveness of its restrained approach to instrumentation.

Carmen announces her impending death early in the show, inviting us to partake in flashback summations of her life and times, that constitute this piece of musical theatre. We are also inspired to consider our own deaths, and how our individual stories will eventually be told. Footprints will fade, but nothing matters more than how much good we are able to leave behind.

www.carmenliveordead.com

Review: The Lieutenant Of Inishmore (New Theatre)

Venue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Apr 24 – May 26, 2018
Playwright: Martin McDonagh
Director: Deborah Mulhall
Cast: Lloyd Allison-Young, Michael Becker, Alice Birbara, Steve Corner, Angus Evans, Patrick Holman, James McCrudden, Nicholas Sinclair
Images by Bob Seary

Theatre review
It is 1993, and the threat of devastating violence in Northern Ireland is a daily reality. Groups are formed, and re-formed, in accordance with shifting political ideals that deliver little more than bloodshed and suffering. Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant Of Inishmore first appeared in 2001, only a few years after the abatement of conflict, when the memories of terror were still fresh, and the play’s comedy is therefore, predictably dark.

Also completely absurd and deeply ironic, a narrative is built around Padraic, a homicidal maniac who kills in the name of nationalism, and the very unlikely soft spot he has for Wee Thomas, the pet cat at home. Blisteringly funny, the sardonic The Lieutenant Of Inishmore deals with real life trauma, by channelling the senselessness of recent history through heightened humour, into a digestible form. Every time we laugh at a joke, we are required to reflect on the wounds to which it refers, and in that process find a way to reach an understanding, of things too difficult to find psychological and emotional resolution for.

Director Deborah Mulhall sets the tone perfectly, for an outrageous ride of a show. The bold comedy is as enjoyable as it is thought-provoking, and our communal laughter works to create a sense of unity around the play’s discussions of terrorism and war. A delightful cast keeps us amused from the very start, when the formidable duo of Patrick Holman and James McCrudden open the production with an energetic confidence and delightful eccentricity. Chemistry between the two is nuanced and tenacious, and thoroughly enjoyable to the bitter end. Lloyd Allison-Young is a very compelling leading man, incisive in his portrayal of Padraic. Inventive and charismatic, with an enviable knack for comic timing, he lands every punchline with finesse and flair.

The story is ridiculous, but we leave the theatre thinking its wild fiction is no stranger than the truth. As we grapple with the idea of children in foreign lands being bombed, and of our neighbours being arrested for charges of terrorism, we often experience disorientation and confusion, as though the world had been turned upside down. We try to install order into things to form a semblance of logic, because information must be arranged to cohere somehow, for the alternative of ignorance and apathy is unforgivable. So much of how we are is bizarre, and bizarrely inhumane, but even when we are unable to locate the reasons for our atrocities, to prevent them from occurring must always be fundamental to who we are.

www.newtheatre.org.au

Review: Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor Story (Sydney Theatre Company)

Venue: Wharf 1 Sydney Theatre Company (Walsh Bay NSW), Apr 21 – May 26, 2018
Playwright: Priscilla Jackman
Director: Priscilla Jackman
Cast: Nicholas Brown, Andrew Guy, Chantelle Jamieson, Ashley Lyons, Heather Mitchell, Georgina Symes
Images by Philip Erbacher

Theatre review
For those of us who are transgender, the experience of life is always a little bit extraordinary. Radically othered, by virtue of the fiercely homogenising quality of gender, there is a part of us that cannot help but perceive things from the periphery, whether we feel ourselves to be accepted or marginalised. Catherine McGregor is a media star, in many ways Australia’s answer to Caitlyn Jenner, both sixty-something, both extremely privileged and established in their professional fields, and both coming out as trans in spectacular fashion in the 2010s. They are not trailblazers by any means, for we have existed since the dawn of humankind (assuming gender had existed from the very beginning), but their stories coincide with a particular time in Western history, when being trans is suddenly a thing to celebrate.

This new interest in our identities contains unquestionably, a hint of the freak show; we often find ourselves a curiosity that everybody else feels as though they finally have license to poke and prod at. It can be argued however, that we are the ones who have demanded attention be paid to our difference, in this, for many, lifelong battle for approval and recognition. In Priscilla Jackman’s Still Point Turning, a delicious balance is struck, in which the object of our gaze is simultaneously accommodating and commanding. The audience is intrusive, but at the protagonist’s insistence. She proclaims to not want the responsibilities of being a poster-girl for the movement, but presents herself with blunt candidness and a fearless embrace of the prying spotlight. The work is “based on interviews with Catherine McGregor”, and she is very forthright with her disclosures.

It is a political and benevolent act, but also narcissistic (as she admits), and that seemingly dissonant combination provides a potent vitality for playwright and director Jackman, whose creation here proves to be a remarkably rich piece of theatre. The show satisfies our need for the sordid and gossipy, allowing us into the profoundly personal struggles of a public figure, whilst offering some of the most informative and thought-provoking content of any biographical account. For a play about a personality whose interests are in sport and the military, Still Point Turning is perhaps surprisingly entertaining, relentlessly so, but its true value is in its frank and unembellished, and thus rare, depiction of a transgender experience.

We may not have arrived at a point where a story of this nature does not bear the burden of having to make that desperate plea for understanding, and we find McGregor’s suffering often occupying front and centre of the stage (alongside her charming sense of humour) but it is noteworthy that the show does go quite a distance beyond an exploitative depiction of trans tragedy. Societal progress can be observed in its ability to discuss its issues inquisitively and genuinely, offering perspectives that are less emotional and more sincerely exploratory. For audiences of all persuasions, the play’s statements and contemplations about how each of us negotiates gender (and other identity markers or constraints) is a rewarding opportunity for deep reflections about our places in social life; who we think we are, how we wish to be perceived, and the things we do to create a persona that each can be personally content with.

The production is passionate and polished, with clever lighting by Nick Schlieper creating comfortable shifts between time and space, whilst helping contain an unnecessarily large performance area. Music and sound by Steve Francis are conventional but highly effective in their calibrations of atmosphere. Designer Michael Scott-Mitchell’s costumes are simple but very smart, with the lead’s pristine white Carla Zampatti suit a breathtaking, memorable design feature.

Actor Heather Mitchell delivers a brilliant performance in the starring role; intelligent and insightful with her dramaturgy, impressively precise, bold in presence, and gloriously funny. Eminently convincing and disarmingly charismatic, we cannot take our eyes off of her. Her Catherine is fascinating and delightful, and we almost wish for the show not to end, if only to retain her company. A supporting ensemble of five effervescent players add to the fun, each one independently compelling and endearing, but wonderfully cohesive as a team, thick as thieves and marvellously engaging.

Even though Catherine McGregor has accomplished a great deal in her illustrious life as journalist, cricket commentator and military officer, the woman presented in these 100 minutes of Still Point Turning is defined principally by her transness. Whether or not this is an accurate depiction of McGregor’s own truth, it is an intriguing proposition that one’s fundamental sense of identity can be so firmly attached to ideas of gender. It is perhaps a consequence of unyielding persecution, of oppression and cruel humiliation, that what should only be an incidental element of a person’s being, is turned into a subsuming component.

McGregor puts blame on no one, talking only about transphobia as a personal demon, but the undeniable truth remains, that when we harm ourselves, it is always a result of conditioning by the outside. It is easy to think of McGregor as a person who has it all, and as such, we require that she expresses only humility and gratitude. However, the prejudice that all trans people continue to be subject to, range from insidious to barbaric. It is pervasive, even in progressive regions, and there is no doubt that we must always take the opportunity, to step up to defend the rights of our transfolk. To be visibly trans is crucial to our progress, and Cate’s indomitable capacity for attention, is to be admired and more importantly, emulated.

www.sydneytheatre.com.au

5 Questions with Anna Cheney and Eliza Sanders

Anna Cheney

Eliza Sanders: What’s the first show you ever saw?
Anna Cheney: Romeo And Juliette the ballet… oh no it wasn’t, it was 7 Little Australians. I felt really privileged to be taken to the theatre as child, because it has shaped me and I bloody love live theatre because it is visceral, it causes you to think and ask questions of life and humans and I think it can change lives.

What was your first acting experience?
I used to do magic shows. I used to learn magic tricks from a book and then create a show and then take them into primary school and perform them in front of the class. Then when my classmates learned how to do the tricks they teased me.

What did you do then?
I cried all night then went back the next day and did it again, but better. Fuck you school kids!

Why are you passionate about this show?
I’ve never read a play that is quite as radical and unusual as this play and this theatre company is the perfect company to take it on. The director has a very clear vision regarding his desire for both equality and great theatre. House of Sand has brought together a diverse range of professionals to undertake this ‘everistic’ task (is that a word?… climbing theatrical mountains) Now, a week away from opening I can see even more how much of a genius Alice Birch is because we have a kick ass production from what seamed like a very strange conglomeration of words on a page, vignettes and abstract provocations regarding women and language. I don’t know how this writer has done it, but fuck, she’s amazing.

What’s your favourite female body part?
This bit (gestures to place above belly button below breast. It’s got a name but I can’t think what it’s called. Solar plexus? It’s soft and smooth and close to your heart. On my body, my hands, but not aesthetically, just what I can do with them.

Why do we need feminism?
A million thoughts rage in my head! Feminism has a long way to go but, fuck, it’s important. If we didn’t have it, the world would be in a worse place. True equality or the aim for true equality is something that I believe would help every person on the planet.

Eliza Sanders

Anna Cheney: What is the answer to the patriarchy?
Eliza Sanders: Fuck knows.

AC: What do you think about shows that use sexy women to sell them?
ES: Depends if that has anything to do with the content on the show. I don’t think it is bad to use women’s bodies for marketing if it is justified and consensual. But I think men’s bodies should be used more often for marketing, but maybe that just because I personally love the look of men’s bodies.

As a professional dancer, what is it like acting in a play?
Not as physical. Haha. It is more different than I thought it would be. The communication around language is much more considered which makes for a different pace in the rehearsal room which has taken some adjusting. It’s slower in the moment but somehow the whole work seems to come together much quicker. There is also more work that you have to do outside of the studio like learning lines and investigating character choices, and less rolling all over your collaborators.

How is Sydney going to respond to this play?
That is something I really can’t predict, Sydney audiences are not particularly familiar to me. I think they will be amused and entertained primarily and hopefully it will cause then to question and reassess their perspectives on feminism and language.

How is live theatre relevant in a world of screens?
It’s about building communities and bringing people together in physical space. Giving people a reason to leave the house and socialise and interact with ideas without being able to press pause whenever they want. There is a different energetic charge in a live room that you don’t get from a screen. The reason I do it is because it affects your body in a physical way and that allows intellectual and emotional understanding to be gained in a different capacity. Primarily it is about sharing. You can’t do it on your own.

Anna Cheney and Eliza Sanders are appearing in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. by Alice Birch.
Dates: 2 – 19 May, 2018
Venue: The Old 505 Theatre

5 Questions with Gloria Bose and Nikita Waldron

Gloria Bose

Nikita Waldron: What are some obstacles you have had to face as a person of your background coming in the industry?
Gloria Bose: Easy – diversity and representation, not only within my race but class, age, education, sexuality and being of this time. It can be quite disheartening when I do find monologues and it’s either an African American woman suffering from domestic violence or a Rwandan prostitute raising her bastard child in the civil war. Like, those are my choices?… (I used the above monologues to get into drama school)

What’s your favourite warm up tongue twister?
I don’t do tongue twisters, but rattling off consonants, sirening and Y-buzzing (Arthur Lessac) are my go-tos.

If you could swap careers with any actor who would it be and why?
Eddie Murphy! I’m particularly interested in his longevity and variety of his career. From stand-up in the 80s, to movies, he’s released an album, produced his own films, voice overs for the Shrek instalments, playing numerous characters in The Nutty Professor and then all those swing & a miss movies – building a career to have agency to create.

What’s the best thing about working with such an eclectic bunch of young actors?
Difference of opinion and having insight from all walks of life. It’s been great to hear all these offers, some come to fruition and others get left on the rehearsal room floor.

What’s it been like to work with a brand new piece of writing?
Challenging in all the best ways. It’s funny because I don’t find it brand new. James has been working on this play for about 3-4yrs and I remember going to readings in 2015, 16, 17 and now
2018 I’m in it – I think it’s spent enough time on paper and I’m excited for its time onstage.

Nikita Waldron

Gloria Bose: Are you the type of person, who’s about the journey or the destination?
Nikita Waldron: Someone once told me that if I was going to embark on an acting career, I’d have to enjoy the journey otherwise I’d be deeply disappointed by the destination, and it’s probably the most valuable advice I’ve ever gotten. Having said that…a good destination is hugely motivating. Especially on a path like this.

Describe your youth in three words?
Redskins. Literature. Daydreaming.

If you could have one thing change tomorrow, what would it be?
I’d change the President of the United States. Or I’d end global warming. But I think the first issue would definitely put us on track to combat the second.

What is one misconception of being a woman of colour?
The biggest misconception? That I think of it as a disadvantage in this industry. Or worse as an advantage. The truth is, I don’t really think about my skin colour that often. I’ve grown up in a household where it was drilled into me that with hard work almost anything is possible. Period. I’ve got my parents to thank for that. While I’m thrilled that there are more opportunities in the arts for people who look different, I hope that one day it’ll be so normal that we won’t have to talk about it.

If you had to take me on a date, what/where would it be?
I’d fly you to Queenstown in New Zealand (near where my Dad grew up) for a Fergburger. They’re the best burgers in the world – you can quote me on that.

Gloria Bose and Nikita Waldron are appearing in Youth & Destination, by James Raggatt.
Dates: 27 April – 12 May, 2018
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Liz Arday and Daniela Haddad

Liz Arday

Daniela Haddad: You’ve made the decision to cast a woman in this play instead of a man. Why did you make that decision?
Liz Arday: When I first read this piece I couldn’t really justify it focalised through a male lens. I know the original production utilised a male performer in the solo role, at the time the discussions around objectification of the female body were forefront, so that was an incredibly clever choice. How brilliant to place a man on stage and challenge an audience to objectify him in the same way they objectify women. But in 2018 and in the wake of “Me Too” and “Time’s Up”, reclamation and amplification of the female voice in the discussion around consent is paramount. Young women have begun to reclaim their bodies through platforms like YouTube and Instagram and in doing so have rejected the mainstream media’s damaging narratives, but we still have a way to go in having our voices heard… and believed. Our production therefore is about challenging an audience to believe our voice, our story, over that of a man’s. Which is why I felt it was important to cast a women in the solo role.

How has working with only women in the rehearsal room impacted the creative process for you?
This is wonderfully not the first time I’ve run a female only room. When I directed A Woman Alone in London last year I also closed the room for most of the process allowing only female creatives in. It creates a very safe space that allows for more honest and in-depth discussions around female sexuality, identity and the sharing of personal experience which culminates in a more truthful, brave and defiantly feminist performance. I think it’s a powerful process tactic and has proven to be both super successful and liberating for all involved.

There’s been a wave of female monologues on Sydney stages this year, including A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing at KXT and Lethal Indifference at STC. What do you think the appeal is?
I think “Me Too” has empowered female makers to stand up and tell their stories, and has also given audiences permission to engage with them. I think a female monologue piece is the pinnacle of that empowerment as it demands a raw, honest and virtuoso performance from it’s solo actor, and denies a masculine voice in the space (unless embodied through a female form). It’s the ultimate finger to the theatre establishment and traditions on which our industry is built.

What skills can you take from this project to apply to your Sandra Bates assistant directorship at the Ensemble?
One of the shows I’m working on is Unqualified, which is a female comedy written by and starring Genevieve Hegney and Catherine Moore. It’s Tina Fey level hilarious, and is a brilliant example of a work that scene after scene passes the Blechdel test. I think knowing the value of cultivating a safe feminist space in the rehearsal room and encouraging open discussion will serve well. Also it’s a play that travels to many different spaces and places without elaborate sets to frame it, much like our piece, so I’ll be ready to tackle those challenges!

Why do you think people should come to see this show?
Because it’s absolutely stunning piece of award winning Australian writing by one of our greatest assets, Fleur Kilpatrick. Because it’s articulating the seismic cultural shifts that are happening internationally and here at home. Because you’ll be supporting a team of talented and passionate independent theatre makers getting work up without co-production or funding support. Because it’ll be powerful punch of theatre we promise won’t disappoint!

Daniela Haddad

Liz Arday: What was it about the play that made you want to audition?
Daniela Hadda: The script and these characters drew me in and I was attracted to the idea of how models are inherently actors themselves. I was interested to see how this would play out on the theatre stage. Models also contribute hugely to the definition of ‘beauty’ given their influence in the digital sphere. So, this was a really important opportunity to explore the meaning of beauty for myself on a more personal level. The added challenge of a double role excited me as an actor, because of the opportunities it gave me to stretch my skills to the limit.

Throughout the piece you are often playing two characters (Emmy the model and Peter the photographer) who are often on stage together at the same time. What challenges have you come up against in creating these moments and how have you gone about overcoming them?
I had to find ways to create two distinct characters in voice, movement, body language – two very different people with two very different energies who are conveying a different story through their perspectives. From the beginning, I eased into Peter’s character quite nicely. There was a high level of comfort there with his overall energy, grounded nature and of course being Australian. Emmy, I found to be a bigger challenge as she’s an American model and certainly more reserved and calculated compared to the transparent Peter. She is living this idea of what she’s supposed to be according to the modelling industry. This concept paired with her intricate layers of life experience makes for an interesting story but also for the huge challenge on my end to tell this story in all its truth. There are no costumes changes to indicate the shifts between Emmy and Peter. Although there are different accents involved, the physicality speaks volumes in this piece. However the impact of that is only felt when the transitions are swift and seamless. At times, that really can be tiresome to critique, but the pay off of refined theatre is well worth working towards. Plus, the added fun of having that creative freedom to explore within the space and all of that wonderfully paired with the projections Liz has been working on. A grand gesture of art installation and theatre.

As part of our research we’ve been watching some pretty interesting YouTube videos on how to be an alpha male. Can you share any hot tips?
It’s just hilarious that there are entire YouTube channels dedicated to ‘how to be an alpha male’! They were helpful in giving me some physicality choices to experiment with for Peter. Three of my favourites are: 1) Stand straight. The best way to check your alpha posture is to stand against a wall, heels, calves, bum and shoulders should all touch. Step away from the wall but keep those points projected. 2) Use physical reinforcements, touch the person you’re speaking with at the high points of conversation. 3) Smirk, don’t smile.

Emmy is written as a model, but we’ve been re-framing her a bit as an influencer. How would you describe the difference between the two?
The concept of beauty is becoming increasingly blurred. In the 90’s for example a fashion model was typically someone exceedingly tall with a unique look, usually including sharp cheekbones, paired with a memorable walk or iconic pose or gaze. Nowadays, that particular mould of a fashion model is in decline due to the rising prominence of digital influencers. A digital beauty influencer being someone who produces online content that strays from the traditional ideas of fashion and aims to create something more accessible to their mass following. Today beauty is more than just physicality. It’s definitely got a personality edge to it.

In five words how would you describe this production?
Confronting, honest, hilarious, insightful, relevant.

Liz Arday and Daniela Haddad are presenting Yours The Face, by Fleur Kilpatrick.
Dates: 1 – 12 May, 2018
Venue: Blood Moon Theatre