Madeleine Withington: What are you loving right now? Why?
Sonya Kerr: So many things!! Rewatching old favourite shows, trying out new recipes, working on The Angry Brigade with such an awesome cast! Haha. I’m a busy person so right now I’m actually really loving spending the small amount of time I have free hanging out with my husband.
What will always make you belly laugh?
Monty Python. I grew up watching them and no matter how many times I’ve watched Flying Circus or any of the films I still laugh like it’s the first time. The Two Ronnies also makes me laugh ridiculously hard.
Has doing this play changed or shifted your beliefs/philosophies in any way?
I don’t think it’s changed my beliefs but it has certainly made me see how anarchy can be attractive. When you feel like the system is built against you, it certainly seems like smashing against that system is the only option. I’m a big believer in the power of protest and of the people, so I think if I was around in the 70s in London I definitely would have been a supporter of The Brigade.
Does anger come easily to you?
Not really. I get disappointed, especially in relation to politics. Irritation comes easily. Lots of things irritate me, but true anger? It takes a lot for me to get really angry. I honestly can’t remember that last time I was angry. I think I’d be a member of the Mildly Irritated Brigade.
Does violence solve anything?
That’s such a hard question! While I do believe that violence begets violence, situations occur when violence is the only effective response. From something as simple as self defence to something as complex as a world war, I think the best I can say is that we should avoid violence whenever we can and exercise restraint whenever we cannot.
Sonya Kerr: What makes you angry?
Madeleine Withington: So many things. I get angry a bit too easily, I feel. There are things that are worth my anger and there are things that aren’t. I’m still learning to tell the difference. Injustice gets me, when people are disrepectful, if someone does something to hurt someone I love. I get angry at the media, and the politicians, and Australia in general, very often. Capitalism. That gets me furious. The kyriarchy. That’s a bit general, but it is probably best not to turn this into a dissertation. I got mad at the Angry Birds 2 film recently. I haven’t seen it. Just that it exists. See? Still learning. There’s so many things, I honestly don’t know if I can go into them all.
Do you believe in the power of protesting?
Yes I do. Even outside of creating change at a structural level, I think it can be very important in showing people that they aren’t alone. At the climate strike that was the feeling I had. After months and months of crumbling internally, to show up to thousands of people demanding change together, it definitely made me teary. It was weirdly nourishing? And definitely made me eager for more action on a personal level, rather than encouraging complacency. I think in that sense particularly, protest can be crucial.
What do you hope audiences will get from The Angry Brigade?
Hope and fury. Momentum. An impulse to examine their convictions? Questions for themselves. I really hope that people come away feeling a little bit uncomfortable, like there is something in the corner of their vision they don’t really want to look at, and that they then work up the courage to look at it directly. Does that make sense? If someone came out and said they weren’t sure how to feel, I’d be happy with that I think.
What brings you joy?
Again, so many things! I guess that’s a good balance? Working, I love working. I feel very joyful onstage. My partner. Drinking coffee with my partner on the weekend in our flat. My friends. My friends are incredible. Playing pool badly and having a beer and talking absolute nonsense. Writing. Being underwater, I love being underwater. Animals, any animals at all, they’re all hilarious, except for moths, not a fan of moths. Terry Pratchett books. Music. My family. Showers. Oh god, hot showers. Shower oranges. If you know, you know. I have reasonably simple joys I guess.
You play the role of Anna in The Angry Brigade. Do you identify with anything in her personality or politics?
Yes, quite a lot actually. It was her who initially drew me to the play. She is going through this very human thing of trying to align her ideas of what should be, with what “the soft animal” of her body wants. I think if you are someone who is at all given to introspection, that that is a very recognisable feeling. She also keeps questioning what “real” is, trying to keep her ideas free of influence. I mean that’s fighting a losing battle, but again, relatable. Also, destroy capitalism. The system is broken. I think Anna would be on board with that.
Sonya Kerr and Madeleine Withington can be seen in The Angry Brigade, by James Graham.
Dates: 1 Oct – 2 Nov, 2019
Venue: New Theatre