Julia Robertson: In your experience, what was the best part about being a kid?
Nyx Calder: It was definitely the boundless curiosity and hunger for knowledge, I remember spending hours finding new words in dictionaries and looking up synonyms to broaden my vocabulary. I was so eager to learn how to read that I drove my parents half mad, they eventually taught me to read out of sheer frustration.
What’s a big similarity between you and Joe? What’s a major difference?
In terms of similarity, definitely the gentle and quiet nature. While I get pretty wild after getting comfortable with folks, I tend to be quite slow to develop connections, and I am inherently quite shy – I have a lot of social anxiety that I think Joe shares. Unlike Joe, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve! I’m slow to develop connection, but I tend to overshare quite a fair bit and without knowing people very long, while Joe tends to keep his personal history under lock and key.
You’ve recently graduated from NIDA, how does it feel to surface from the depths of drama school and dive straight into a two person text?
It’s an absolute dream! While NIDA educated me in a great many ways, it also left me feeling very boxed in at times, especially towards the end of my stay. Being able to step into a rehearsal room as an actor and not a student is such a pleasure, and even more so to do it with a text as rich and expansive as Jess & Joe Forever. It’s also incredibly liberating to be working in such an intimate and direct form of theatre with such giving and wonderful folks.
What is something that has challenged you during the rehearsal process of Jess & Joe?
The voices! I underestimated just how many perspectives we see through this play in spite of the cast size, and when you start throwing dialects into the mix, it can all be quite overwhelming. Fortunately, everyone has been very patient and nurturing, and we’ve had wonderful input from our dialect coach, so it’s been entirely manageable.
What makes this story worth seeing, and why should audiences see this production in particular?
I think this story speaks to something quite universal in the experience of puberty; the sense of loneliness and isolation felt during those vulnerable developmental years, and the yearning for companionship and acceptance. This play allows us to see a beautiful connection blossom between two kids who do not just survive their circumstances, but start to thrive and prosper alongside each other. Jess & Joe Forever is for those of us who, in our adolescent years, struggled to find ourselves in the world around us. This play speaks to that uncertainty in a tender, honest and loving way, and I believe audiences will be thrilled to join us on such a moving journey.
Nyx Calder: Given that we’re both twenty eight years old, what has your process been in finding your inner adolescent?
Julia Robertson: My inner adolescent is… disturbingly accessible? Julia means youthful after all! I spend a lot of time with teenage girls as a drama and singing teacher. Their complexities, empathy and curiosity are continually fascinating to me. Teenage me made a lot of mistakes, felt very alone but always wore a smile on her face. I like in this production that we are able to see the truths, whatever they may be, underneath the polite smile that has been forced upon young women for a very long time.
What’s the biggest difference, and the biggest similarity, between you and your character Jess?
I find differentiating myself from a character once I’ve gotten them under my skin quite difficult! But let’s try. Difference: in her younger years Jess is very feminine and proper. I was not. I was a “boy-girl” and pretty determined to be an entomologist when I grew up. When I began at an all girls school, I was suspended for punching someone in the face a week in. Jess takes a little longer to find her physical prowess! Similarity: Too many. She’s lovable and annoying. I hope/think that’s me.
What’s your favourite rom-com of all time?
Goshhhhhh I honestly don’t know if I have one! I used to like How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days? Maybe? The hairless dog in it is good?
What sets Jess & Joe Forever apart from other plays and makes it a must-see?
Jess & Joe Forever is unique. It tenderly explores hardships that only a minority of us have ever or will ever experience. Jess and Joe are like and unlike any tweens you know and love. And that’s what makes this story so special.
What even is a scotch egg, anyway?
A tiny, bald, white man in a kilt. Nah, jokes it’s some bacon-crusted egg thing? Sounds gross. Apparently it’s artisanal.
Nyx Calder and Julia Robertson can be seen in Jess & Joe Forever by Zoe Cooper.
Dates: 13 – 30 Mar, 2019
Venue: Belvoir St Theatre