5 Questions with Harry Milas and Jordan Shea

Harry Milas

Jordan Shea: What makes Cascadia different to all your other work?
Harry Milas: It’s surreal and it’s got a narrative. It’s also got a director (who I adore and deeply respect) and he’s keeping me focused on what’s important, what’s real and what’s valuable. Orson Wells said that the problem with magicians is they try to do everything alone. I can count on one hand magic shows that have had a director. Also I hate magic shows that are just “Look how clever I am” or god forbid making birds appear to music. There’s no connection to the audience at all. No contact. Cascadia follows a journey I took with a fascination for making things vanish from childhood to present day and the audience feature heavily in that every step of the way.

What animal would you like to study in depth if you had the money and time?
That is a very difficult question and I really had to think about it, and I think my answer is the Bonobo. They are incredibly good at forward rolls, and general movement. They’re also our closest living relative and are deeply interesting. They also need help as their numbers are dwindling. I’ve been to The Democratic Republic of the Congo briefly and I’d love to go back and really soak it up. 

Magic is timeless. It’s been around or thought about since people have co-existed. This new show, how does it appeal to a theatre-going audience?
Because it’s theatre. It’s theatre that happens to be a magic show. Magic seems steeped in tradition and stuffed with clichés but there are always new ideas and breakthroughs coming to the surface. People who call themselves magicians comprise a wide range of styles and personalities. I’ve written the show from the perspective of a writer and performer who happens to be a magician. But let’s be honest the appeal is mostly going to be people wanting to see how I’m going to make a volunteer vanish in that dark basement of a theatre.

What was the first piece of music you ever heard that really said something to you?
I remember my brother giving me a copy of Boards Of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children when I was about 11, and the track “Telephasic Workshop” just kinda fucked me up in the best way. I remember I got so excited when I listened to that song for the first time that I did a forward roll and my headphones came off! That is an incredible album that’s overflowing with wildly creative and brilliant electronic music. 

Have you ever met Don Rickles? If so, give me a brief run down of how it happened? 
So strange you ask me that. I have met Don Rickles, yes. On my first trip to New York I went to see the debut production of A Behanding In Spokane, then Martin McDonagh’s newest work. It had Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken in the two main roles. It was my first broadway play and I was very excited. The play was fantastic and the production was amazing (Walken did some of the best non-acting acting I’ve ever seen) and after it finished I was expecting everyone to run out to the stage door, but instead they were all milling around in the stalls talking to someone. Turns out it was Don Rickles, who I have loved since I was a little kid. He was a total mensch and was shaking everyone’s hands. I managed to have a quick interaction with him as he left the theatre, and the most amazing part was instead of getting in a car he just did a forward roll and was somehow really far away at the end of it. I’ve never seen anyone move that quickly and he was really old at the time!!

Jordan Shea

Harry Milas: Do you know how Harry is going to make the audience member disappear?
Jordan Shea: I don’t. But that might be a lie. Harry’s practice, to me, is about the possibility he might be making all of this up. I won’t know until we’re there, present, in the moment, as to how he will make this person disappear. All I know is he will do it, and probably make you have a good laugh and maybe be a little scared doing it. I don’t think a lot of conventional plays or performances can do that-but Harry and his magic can.

Cascadia is a wildly different direction for you. What drew you to the work and why is it important?
Because it’s a challenge. I don’t know if I’ll ever do something like this again. As a director and maker, it’s important to challenge yourself and just do different things. It’s weird. It’s important because it is in no way preachy but at least it’ll make you think for a while after. I like one man shows as well, I think if you can find someone who can intimately hold an audience for 30 plus minutes, you should collaborate with them-because you can learn a lot.

What is a film you think is massively overlooked?
The Swedish film As It Is In Heaven. We saw it around my 12th birthday at the Orpheum and it is a film of such nuance. Go download/buy/google it. 

What do you reckon about… I don’t know…the lockout laws?
I think most decisions by NSW Liberals since their election in 2011 (including the lockout laws) are the most poorly thought out pieces of legislation in the history of our state. I don’t understand the government’s tact or ethos because they don’t really have any at all, and I think they are just blindly ruining this state year by year.

When was the last time you actually took a break pal? You’ve been working real hard for a long time now.
I went on extended holidays in June/July and it made me realise I need to do that more. I’m training as a school teacher next year, and hopefully I can afford to take at least two weeks somewhere. I try to go once a year, somewhere. I think everyone working should. No matter where you are, there’s more to see. 

Harry Milas and Jordan Shea collaborate in Cascadia: A Magic Show.
Dates: 23 – 25 November, 2018
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre

5 Questions with Emily Dreyer and Grace Driscoll

Emily Dreyer

Grace Driscoll: What drew you to working on a show as iconic as Company?
Emily Dreyer: The music! Stephen Sondheim is an absolute genius and the score is just incredible. Every musical number in the show is catchy and innately engaging… as well as challenging at times for singers which makes it just as much fun to rehearse as it is to watch being performed. Also, some of the cast and production team I have worked with before so it’s always a pleasure working with them again!

Why do you believe audiences should come see this show?
It’s so relatable, the music is outstanding, it’s hilarious and it will overall be a fantastic night out… to be honest I wouldn’t want to miss it!

What first ignited your passion for dancing/musical theatre?
I grew up training in ballet at the Elizabeth McGirr School of Ballet doing one big concert every two years! One year we did a version of Mary Poppins and I got the chance to be Jane (one of the children), after our one show was over, 11 year old me was so depressed for about two weeks… that’s when I knew I needed more. I then moved into other styles of dance and seriously started musical theatre training two years ago when I started at ED5International.

Where do you hope to see yourself professionally in 5 years time?
In a touring company for a musical but if we are really reaching for the stars Broadway!

Who is your musical theatre inspiration?
It changes all the time but at the moment it would have to be Donna McKechnie and Charlotte D’Amboise. Donna McKechnie was the original Kathy in Company and then went on to be the original Cassie in A Chorus Line. Watching footage of her performing is just so inspiring and to be able to do a solo dance number in a musical is so rare and Donna McKechnie is just incredible. I feel so lucky to be playing the same role of Kathy and being able to dance “Tick-Tock”, which is often left out of productions of Company. Charlotte D’Amboise played Kathy and Cassie too, but many years later in revivals and she is just as inspiring but reminds me of how it’s important to put yourself and your strengths into the role. I have so many people that are always inspiring me from my teachers, my dance students and of course the cast and production team of Company at Limelight on Oxford.

Grace Driscoll

Emily Dreyer: What about your character Marta is similar to you?
Grace Driscoll: I love playing Marta, as I feel like she is a very heightened version of myself. I think we share the same passion and thirst for life, and that even the smallest things excite us. We both love experiencing new things, and are open to learning from every person we meet. I am however, without a doubt, a self-professed dork- which isn’t what most people necessarily think of cool, trendy Marta. In order to find my way into her, I tried to channel my natural weirdness but in a way where she is 100% unapologetic about it. Embracing herself, her ideas and her opinions wholeheartedly and boldly, is what I believe makes her so confident and so effortlessly cool.

What is your favourite part about being in Company?
My favourite part about being in Company is working with such an incredible team and just doing a musical. Because I’ve only just completed studying, it has been such a long time since I’ve done a musical, and to get the opportunity to now do it, with material as rich as this, in a brand new theatre and with a company this talented, feels like an absolute dream! Being the baby of the cast, I am constantly in awe of everyone’s talent, experience and expertise in their craft and have learnt so much from every single person.

If anyone could come and see the show who would it be and why?
I think this show is perfect for… everyone! The story is so real and so accessible for anyone who has ever been in a relationship. I think Sydney audiences young and ‘older-than-young’ will enjoy what this musical has to give, so I encourage everyone to book tickets and have a night out at the theatre. Also, come and checkout the incredible new venue that is Limelight! I anticipate it will soon be a prime theatre-goers hot spot.

What brings you to musical theatre?
I was first introduced to musicals by my grandfather’s collection of old movie musicals that I would play, entranced and on repeat whenever I visited, including The Sound Of Music and The King And I. It wasn’t until I was 10 where I saw a community production of Guys And Dolls that I became hooked on musicals and performing. This passion has since taken me through two training courses, 800km away from home, and given me many lifelong friends. There’s something so special about combining the elements of song, music and dance in order to tell a story. I love reading a script or a score that is rich with good writing and detail, and wanting nothing more than to share it with audiences.

Dream musical role and why?
Too many to list! My number one role would definitely be Natasha in Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet 1812. Similar to Sondheim’s Company, Malloy’s writing is so detailed and intricate which makes for some stunningly beautiful songs. I also love the fact that the show promotes diversity in its casting, despite the setting being 19th century Russia.

Emily Dreyer and Grace Driscoll can be seen in Company by Stephen Sondheim.
Dates: 14 November – 1 December, 2018
Venue: Limelight On Oxford

5 Questions with Laura Djanegara and Francisco Lopez

Laura Djanegara

Francisco Lopez: What do you love most about theatre in Sydney?
Laura Djanegara: I love the incredible array of talented and driven people that there are in the arts in Sydney. There are so many incredible and hardworking people in theatre in all its areas, cast and crew alike, that there is a lot to be inspired by. I also like that there is still a great sense of community in theatre. Back in Perth where I grew up, the theatre world was quite small but they cultivated a strong sense of community in theatre. Even though the industry here is much bigger, in my experience you still often have mutual friends with other theatre makers and that I really like.

What have you found most challenging about working on The Laramie Project or The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later?
It is a challenge making sure that each of your characters is distinct, especially when they are some that have fewer lines than others. Having clear and differing personalities for so 10+ characters can be tricky. Also, the narrator lines!

What has been your most memorable experience within the LGBTIQ+ community?
I think it would have to be when a dear friend of mine did a performance outlining why he wanted to be able to marry his partner one day. It was before the marriage equality vote and it was such a well written and performed piece that I felt truly positioned to see his point of view. That his love wasn’t wrong and wasn’t there to offend anyone. It was just love. I’d always been for marriage equality because it just makes sense to me but this performance was the first moment it really hit me in the heart. His love for his partner was so beautiful, it really moved me.

What do you wish most for the next generation of LGBTIQ+ Australians?
I wish very much for the next generation of LGBTIQ+ Australians to have acceptance, love and understanding. I was with a friend the other day and someone rolled down their car window to yell obscenities at them because they perceived them to be gay. It made me really angry. I think people have the right to make their own decisions about how they live and love. I wish this next generation doesn’t find it hard to be who they are. I wish for them a sense of belonging.

What can audiences expect to walk away with after seeing The Laramie Project or The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later?
I think a great sense of compassion and empathy. What I really like about this play is the way it doesn’t shy away from the humanity in it all. You hear from all differing views on what happened and from that you draw a clear view of how divided people can be within themselves. This murder forced people to look on their own views towards homosexuality and acceptance. I don’t think it’s enough to tolerate something – that just means putting up with something you are opposed to. This play focuses on the ‘why’ of the opposition. If it can have that effect on an audience it would be a very important experience

Francisco Lopez

Laura Djanegara: What drew you to this production and why should Sydney audiences see it?
Francisco Lopez: I had never read The Laramie Project. I knew it existed and I had a vague knowledge of Matthew Shepard’s horrific death by a fence. Maybe it sounded too horrific for me to accept; and too recent of an event. After having to fight for marriage equality last year, right here in Australia, I want to keep talking about what is holding us back from true acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community. The Laramie Project goes beyond branding individuals as homophobes, and studies a whole town’s make up in relation to this tragedy. I invite audiences to see our two plays to remember what any equal rights movement is up against. It’s easy to believe we have made a lot of progress when we examine the horrors of the past, or the atrocities in distant parts of the world. The Laramie Project reminds us of the forces constantly present in our own communities today.

In a show of this nature where you play multiple characters, what has been the biggest challenge for you as an actor?
I play more than ten characters across the two plays, some of them appearing in both plays. There are many challenges that come with stepping into characters of different ages, professions, and belief structures. I think my biggest challenge was understanding that ultimately, these people cannot be too far away from who I am. I don’t have to wear wigs, fake noses or outrageous costumes. I may very well have said the things these people said in different circumstances. And I’m reminded that this play shows audiences just that – that Laramie is not that different from their own communities.

Which character in either play would you most like to act as and why?
I don’t know if it’s just because of the actor playing her (wink, wink, Laura!) – but Romaine Patterson, a friend of Matthew Shepard, seems like such a bad-ass in the best of ways! She wanted to be a rock star and instead became an activist who inspired so much social change across the USA. She even takes on Fred Phelps in one of the plays!

The shows are set in 1998 and 2008 respectively, what was your life like in 1998 and 2008?
Oof… in 1998 I was in Year 11 at a Catholic school in one of two Victorian electorates that voted No to marriage equality. It was my last year of studying drama, as I went on to study maths and sciences in the pursuit of academic glory. I was good at performing in life – so I had a great time in high school with some beautiful friends. I went on to be school captain and school dux – even if I wasn’t being 100% honest with myself about who I wanted to be. In 2008 I was improving workflows in an emergency department by day, and producing a community television show about Hispanic and Latin American culture by night. I was a very busy young man – and very curious about the world beyond my upbringing. That year I travelled to Dubai, London, Israel and the West Bank.

Describe The Laramie Project in 5 words.
Tragic. Hopeful. Brave. Compassionate. Love.

Laura Djanegara and Francisco Lopez can be seen in The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.
Dates: 28 Nov – 8 Dec, 2018
Venue: Seymour Centre

5 Questions with Phoebe Grainer and Jill Nguyen

Phoebe Grainer

Jill Nguyen: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as an artist, actor, writer? How do you want to be remembered?
Phoebe Grainer: I don’t care for words like legacy or how I want to be remembered. I want to live my life creating work and doing things that are meaningful, that I am empowering and uplifting my mob, the Kuku Djungan people and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

What was the first play that captivated you and in some way defined you?
When I was in high school up in Broome, I went and seen a rehearsal of a play called Jandamarra. I’m not sure how I found out about it or even if I was allowed to go watch but I was there. Jandamarra is a legend of the the Bunuba people up that way, he is a warrior and a leader who defends his country, his mob. When I saw this rehearsal, all Aboriginal cast, talking language. It was beautiful. I had never seen anything like it. I just remember thinking wow, I want to do that.

What’s been the biggest learning lesson so far in your journey with The Serpent’s Teeth?
I think it’s been a reminder of how hard you need to work for things you want to do.

Favourite pre, during and post rehearsal snacks?
I have been eating so much Thai fried rice and chicken nuggets!

As an Indigenous Australian artist, what advice can you give for the next generation of young Indigenous people who want to pursue creative dreams?
Speak to the old people, Elders, your grandparents and parents. Culture is important and we need to keep it strong. Always know why you do the things you do, creatively, professionally and in everyday life, give back to your community. Critically think about the world. Know that you can do the things that you want to do.

Jill Nguyen

Phoebe Grainer: What was your experience like growing up as a Vietnamese-Australian woman in Melbourne?
Jill Nguyen: As a kid, I never felt that different to anyone else. The inner west of Melbourne where I grew up was super diverse, which was wonderful. Asian, black, white, everyone. It wasn’t until I went to university at 18, that I was quite shocked by how little some people knew about Asians in general. I did do Arts at Melbourne Uni, which was pretty white. I’ve experienced racism of all kinds, ranging from subtle to downright overt, and it’s only made me more resilient. In saying that, I am so lucky to have grown up in Melbourne. It’s my home.

How did you get into acting?
After 3 years of higher education, working full time at the bank and travelling overseas for a year and having my soul crushed in between, I came to my senses and decided to follow my dream. I started taking acting classes 2 years ago and I haven’t looked back since! I just jumped into the deep end and worked really, really, really hard to get myself out there. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Who did you look up to on your journey to becoming an actor?
Honestly, I didn’t have too many Asian females to look up to, but I always loved Marilyn Monroe a lot. In recent years, I have felt really empowered by Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh and Gemma Chan, all power houses in their own right. They light my fire.

Has the Vietnamese-Australian community reacted to your work, if so how? And how has the wider Australian community reacted to your work?
I guess my journey has just begun in some ways and I’m really excited for Viets all over the world to see my work. I was recently cast in Justin Kurzel’s True History Of The Kelly Gang, as Molly Kane. I act alongside Nicholas Hoult, George McKay and Thomasin McKenzie. I’m hoping a young and impressionable Vietnamese girl sees me in this feature and somehow has the confidence to follow her dreams too.

What does it mean for you to be a woman of colour in the arts?
It means everything to me. When people say things like “oh race doesn’t matter”, I feel an invisible slap in the face. Well, of course it matters. My heritage is Vietnamese, Chinese. I’m not going to run away from that. People of colour have been historically marginalised, purely based on the colour of their skin. I think my presence and contribution to the arts in film or theatre is political in its’ own right. I won’t stop creating, fighting and hustling. For so long, the realm of the art world and film, in the western world has been exclusively white, male dominated and right now, is the best time to change it up, completely. I feel a sense of solidarity with other women of colour artists too.

Phoebe Grainer and Jill Nguyen can be seen in The Serpent’s Teeth by Daniel Keene.
Dates: 9 – 24 Nov, 2018
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Violette Ayad and Mary Soudi

Violette Ayad

Mary Soudi: What’s your favourite part about playing Lilian (Lilo)?
Violette Ayad: I love that I got to name this character myself. In fleshing out the character, the director and I decided that we wanted her to have a name that was a little ambiguous in relation to her cultural background. A name that could belong to someone from a Middle Eastern background (like myself), but was not specifically Middle Eastern (much like my own name). So, I named her after one of my aunties, Lilian, who everyone in the family calls ‘Lilo’ for short.

What’s something that has really surprised you during the creation of Blame Traffic?
The ease with which we’ve moved from reading and workshopping the script to finding the scenes on the floor. It has been a real reminder that when the time is taken to get the script, the foundation, right, everything else can be built on that with clarity and specificity. Part of the joy of having a writer who is also the director was that we could stop and identify problems in the script, and fix them in the script, rather than trying to gloss over them in the performance of it.

What main idea do you think will stay in the minds of audience members in the hours/days after they see the show?
I’d like to think that people’s responses to this play are very varied based on their own experiences of coincidence and serendipity in their lives. But ultimately, I would love everyone to consider a little deeper the amazing moments of chance and luck that make up life. In a world that moves further away from institutional religion every day, finding joy in these chaotic and random encounters feels like a pretty comforting way to live.

What’s your craziest traffic-related experience?
Oh, so many. I was one of those terrible young drivers you always fear is around the corner. I got my license in West Australia before the introduction of the mandatory L plate waiting period and with only 25 driving hours required. This is terrible, but I once lost 4 demerits and $600 in a 24-hour period when I was 19. Find me in the foyer and I will tell you how. Don’t worry, I don’t own a car in Sydney or drive very often, and definitely take road safety more seriously now that I’m older.

Why are you passionate about this production?
This production began as a way to bring together all of my favourite class mates and friends from the training institutions I’d studied at, and show the world how it’s done! Every decision in this production represents what I love seeing and what I believe in. At the core, we have a well-written story that engages the heart and mind equally. Add to that a cast of incredibly different performers that share an ability to contribute, generously, to a whole production, beyond their own specific part. And finally, a contemporary and innovative design team, making funky beats and a simple, but beautiful, stage design.

Mary Soudi

Violette Ayad: What is your favourite thing about the Blame Traffic script?
Mary Soudi: The humour that’s sprinkled throughout it! One scene in particular cracks me up every single time – I won’t reveal it, but I will say that Emma O’Sullivan plays a teenage boy behind a wheel of a car, and it is just so, so hilarious. 

What makes this project so exciting for you?
I’m excited by this project because I think Michael is one of the brightest young writers in Australia, and Blame Traffic is his best work yet. Being able to bring this brilliant story of his to life alongside so many brilliant creative minds is pretty darn magical.

Having just finished the Bell Shakespeare tour of The Players, how much driving do you think you’ve done in the past year?
Probably a billion hours. Those long drives were the best way to see this gorgeous country and fully take in just how huge it is. And I must say, I’ve truly surprised myself with my ability to park a giant Kia Carnival (mini-van/small spaceship) in so many cramped little parking lots all around Australia. Believe in yourself, folks!

What have been the benefits of working with people you’ve trained with?
Is there anything better than making art with your favourite humans? Knowing each other inside and out is a huge benefit, because after all the years we’re trained together we end up knowing exactly where each other’s creative genius lies, and can bring it out of each other. And all the endless love and tomfoolery!

Without giving anything away, what do you think is a moment people will really respond to in the play? 
A gorgeous moment of realness between a boy and his uncle, where self-doubt transforms into self-belief. Come see it to find out what I’m talking about!

Violette Ayad and Mary Soudi can be seen in Blame Traffic by Michael Andrew Collins.
Dates: 13 – 24 Nov, 2018
Venue: Old 505 Theatre

5 Questions with Alex Mau and Olivier Rahmé

Alex Mau

Olivier Rahmé: If you could play any one role in the show, which one would it be?
Alex Mau: Queenie, of course! Who doesn’t want to play a blonde? Queenie is such a wonderful, three-dimensional female role, something we could do with more of in theatre! When the party is lit, Queenie is living her best life, sassing it up with her BFF Kate, throwing shade at the grand dame Dolores and killing it with her signature dance move, the “Black Bottom”. Come dawn, Queenie breaks it down with the most poignant and touching ballads in the show, alongside the gorgeous hunk Black. Queenie has so much light and shade, it would be so amazing to play her but, fortunately for you, I won’t be doing that and, instead, you’ll have triple threat and all-round superstar, Georgina Walker, portraying this once-in-a-lifetime role!

Which role excites you most in the rehearsal room? Why?
The director! I am in awe of how our director, Alexander Andrews, always does unique and refreshing takes on classics, such as Little Triangle’s inaugural production of Sunday In The Park with George and its sophomore production of Merrily We Roll Along. He encourages the cast to bring themselves to the characters, creating really interesting and fully-developed interpretations of characters that could otherwise be simple caricatures. I couldn’t stress enough than audiences should see this production of The Wild Party – not only is it a rarely produced musical in Australian theatre, you’ll definitely want to see what Alexander Andrews does with this amazing material!

What’s a funny/crazy/interesting thing you’ve picked up on in the rehearsal room?
The Chorines are like the bubbly and hilarious Greek Chorus of The Wild Party (portrayed by Victoria Luxton, Matilda Moran, Sophie Perkins, Jordan Warren & Rosalie Neumair). Being incredible dancers, our fabulous choreographer, Madison Lee, has given them heaps of intense and electric choreography that it feels like they’re doing full-body workouts throughout the entire show! It’s crazy how effortlessly they smash that chorey and then go on to belt those group numbers like they eat dissonant harmonies for breakfast – #goals. Keep an eye out for what I think is one of their funniest dance moves (in the spirit of 1920s vaudeville), which I would describe as a cross between the spread eagle from Chicago and squats in the air – yes, I can see you trying to picture it, but you’ll just have to come and see it for yourself!

What is the wildest party you’ve ever been too?
What happens at The Wild Party, stays at The Wild Party.

What do you think the audience’s reaction to The Wild Party will be?
Michael John LaChiusa (composer and lyricist for The Wild Party) is well-known for writing complex theatre scores so I think audiences will be expecting some very challenging, intellectual theatre. Alexander Andrews has taken an interesting and refreshing interpretation of bringing out and focusing on the human connections between the characters so, while the music is still technically difficult (which, as a pianist, I love!), I think audiences will be surprised by the humanity and rawness of the story and the characters. Prepare for side-splitting laughter and tear-jerking moments, it’s gonna be a WILD PARTY!

Olivier Rahmé

Alex Mau: Describe The Wild Party in five words?
Olivier Rahmé: Hilarious. Crazy. Shocking. Thrilling. Eye-opening.

What drew you to The Wild Party and why should people see it?
A lot of my friends have worked with Little Triangle before, so I was thrilled, humbled and so excited to be a part of such a reputable company. People should come to the show because of the impact a show like this can have on you – that’s what I love about theatre. As actors we hope the audience members gain something from the performance; to leave with something to think about & to be impacted. I truly believe The Wild Party succeeds in doing this.

What surprised you most about The Wild Party and what do you think will surprise audiences the most?
I love how meaty some of the roles are and how the actor has so much to play with. The script offers a lot and doesn’t box any character into being one thing. Many of us show all sorts of colour, which I love. I think the audience will be surprised by the level of talent – So. Many. BEAUTIFUL. Actors! And the voices are really shown off. My hat goes off to the production team for their casting.

Tell us a little about your character Eddie and how your approach to the character has changed over time.
When I first started reacting to the energies the other actors were giving me and read the script, I thought… Eddie is awful. What an awful man. Perfect. I can do that! But exploring his journey more and trying to figure out why Eddie does some of the things he does, I’ve now realised; Eddie isn’t a bad person. He is a defeated person who does a horrific and unforgivable thing. He struggles a lot with his identity and doesn’t quite know how to be happy – constantly masking his unhappiness and failures by blaming how life turned out on his beautiful wife Mae (Emily Hart). Sidenote: Emily’s belt may or may not be a solid and definite reason you need to see this show).

Tell us a little about the most challenging thing about the role.
The most challenging this I find is the final scene with Eddie towards the end of the show when he abuses everybody both verbally and physically. Emotionally and physically this section is exhausting for me as the actor. I definitely feel my body and mind tiring out after a few runs of this scene!

Alex Mau is répétiteur/pianist and Olivier Rahmé plays Eddie in The Wild Party, the musical.
Dates: 15 – 24 Nov, 2018
Venue: Seymour Centre

5 Questions with Yannick Lawry and Nicholas Papademetriou

Yannick Lawry

Nicholas Papademetriou: How confident would C S be today in a theological debate?
Yannick Lawry: I reckon Jack (apparently he hated the name Clive and used the name Jack all his life!) would have a decent answer for most theological questions. Even in our age of ‘hyper enlightenment’. The thing I’m less sure about is how he’d cope with debating in an age where it’s so easy to offend and apologies are rarely accepted..

If Lewis could date any modern celebrity of today who would it be and why?
In the context of Freud’s Last Session, Freud suggests Lewis was attracted to older, virtuous women after losing his mother at a young age. His wife, Joy Davidman, was an American poet and – like Lewis – converted to Christianity later in life. So a mature, devout, artistically minded woman from the other side of the Pacific. Unlikely to be anyone we know from the pages of OK! magazine!

What are you enjoying most as an actor about working on this production?
Our rehearsal process is somewhat intense. I’ve never had to work so hard to make using archaic props like pocket watches, gas masks and transistor radios look quite so natural, and I’m loving watching Nico as a master of character acting bring life and depth to Freud.

If Lewis actually met God what’s the first thing you think he would he ask him?
“Why this great test of life on earth before the great reward of heaven?”

Are you finding the play is making you question any of your own beliefs or theories?
Yes. Outing myself as a believer here, Freud’s arguments about theologians hiding behind their ignorance and creating a God-of-the-gaps where their explanations run dry still rings true in 2018, and has been one of my biggest difficulties with faith. Though I’ve equally enjoyed learning and absorbing Lewis’s many rational arguments for faith in the God of the Bible. Between Freud and Lewis on stage, I still don’t know who wins the argument in the show. Maybe we should give our audiences a scorecard each night!

Nicholas Papademetriou

Yannick Lawry: You’re playing Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalyis. To what extend does Freud’s Last Session portray him as the definition of sanity?
Nicholas Papademetriou: I think in today’s world he’ll come across as an eccentric but intelligent cuckoo. Although perhaps he was perceived as that in his day as well. He’s a combination of nerd, grumpy old man and nutty German psychoanalyst so he may not seem entirely sane, but he’s slightly insane in a good way.

What’s the most controversial thing Freud says or does in the show?
I suppose the most controversial thing he says is his comment about people’s sexuality – for the time, he was quite sensational. His open acceptance would have made him an absolute darling of the LGBTI community.

What’s the most controversial thing you’ve said or done personally (that you’re comfortable sharing with me)?
I have done and said so many controversial things in my life, the list would be far too long to list here (including being a stand-in for a hooker one night). But is that controversial or sensational? Or just plain stupid?

Theatre is a dying art, apparently. What do you reckon is ‘in’ theatre, both for audiences and artists?
I think theatre that is unpretentious, entertaining and easy to connect with is what really makes it for me. If symbolism, plot, message or themes need to be explained to me, then that is what would make theatre a dying art for me. Freud’s Last Session is definitely in!

Fart jokes, or highbrow humour?
I like my fart jokes to be highbrow. And my highbrow to be like dainty farts.

Yannick Lawry and Nicholas Papademetriou can be seen in Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain.
Dates: 29 October – 10 November, 2018
Venue: Seymour Centre