5 Questions with Alex Bryant-Smith and Nicholas Papademetriou

Alex Bryant-Smith

Nicholas Papademetriou: What 5 words would you use to describe The Caretaker using words that start with the letters PINTER?
Alex Bryant-Smith: Psychological. Intense. Nutty. Threatening. Exploitative. Relentless.

You play Mick in The Caretaker. What would Mick do if he won 20 million in the lottery?
Do up the house, flip it, and repeat. Get on the property ladder.

What is it you are enjoying most about doing this play?
I love messing with Davies, and discovering new and deeper ways to play each little moment or
question or line. There is so much depth to the writing, it’s incredible.

If Mick could date any current film star who do you think he’d choose and why?
I don’t know… someone tough and resilient. Jennifer Lawrence? Because she would intimidate him
and thrill him at the same time.

In a nutshell, how have you approached the role of Mick? Has it been a different process to
usual?

The process has been similar to other roles but it took me a while to find his central conflict, the
reason he is there at all. Since then it has been a matter of finding all the juicy little details behind
each line because there are so many, and each one can be played many different ways – so much to
sink your actor’s teeth into!

Nicholas Papademetriou

Nicholas Papademetriou

Alex Bryant-Smith: What 5 words would you use to describe The Caretaker using words that start with the letters HAROLD?
Nicholas Papademetriou: Humorous. Arresting. Rollercoaster. Over-the-top. Loquacious. Disturbing.

You play Davies in The Caretaker. Davies has been “all over”, what would his dream holiday be and why?
He’d love to go somewhere he can spend his entire life without wearing shoes. (Why? You’ll have to come see the play.) But a sandy white beach would be ideal – perhaps Cornwall Beach in Jamaica. Away from the throng, but the odd English eccentric for Davies to banter with.

Jonathan Pryce famously played this role. What would you want ask him about his experience with Davies and The Caretaker?
I’d ask him how he remembered all his lines!

If Davies could have any animal as a pet, what would he choose and why?
A hedgehog. They are mild, expect little and like to keep to themselves, but if anyone messes with them they get instantly spiky. Kindred spirits.

What has been the most difficult part of preparing for this production? Have there been any unique challenges?
The most unique challenge of mastering a Welsh accent that isn’t really a Welsh accent, because Davies isn’t really from Wales… or is he? Retaining the great swathes of dialogue has also been pretty challenging. The other challenge is a constant in all acting: to play the character with honesty and integrity and to respect what the writer intends.

Alex Bryant-Smith and Nicholas Papademetriou can be seen in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter.
Dates: 22 November – 2 December, 2017
Venue: The Actor’s Pulse

5 Questions with Toby Francis and Teagan Wouters

Toby Francis

Teagan Wouters: What was the first album you ever bought?
Toby Francis: The first album I ever bought with my own money was “Punk-o-Rama 6” when I was in Year 7. But the first album that was ever mine was “Aqua Aquarium” when I was about year 7 in age. Those two albums tell you everything you need to know about me, really.

Who was your inspiration as a singer growing up?
Farnham. Hands down. I mean, Freddie Mercury and Barnsey were also gods to me. But Farnham was and is the voice. Around my early 20s, I became obsessed with his voice. I wanted to be able to do what he did and I’d just belt the shit out of his songs until my voice gave out. What he does vocally is incredible.

If you could make any album into a stage show, what would it be?
“My Chemical Romance” – The Black Parade. It’s a great album, it’s theatrical. It has that old school high concept rock and roll that you don’t really see anymore. It is so open to incredible set pieces and costumes. It has such vivid imagery and characters. I’ve thought about what that album would be like on stage a lot.

What song would you choose for your first dance at your wedding? And what song do you want people to play at your funeral?
Wedding: Bright Eyes – “First Day Of My Life”. I found Bright Eyes when I couldn’t sleep one night in high school and a clip came on Rage. I thought it was incredible. And this song is such a simple joy. It’s lyrics aren’t pretentious. But they also aren’t ashamed of being a little twee in places. It’s just real and happy. It’s perfect.

Funeral: Johnny Cash – “We’ll Meet Again”. This song, but not this version, was played at my grandfather’s funeral. He loved to sing and we’d watch Singin’ In The Rain together all the time. When he died, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I also adore The Ink Spots and their version of this song is the one Johnny Cash covered. So it all fits. I mean, I don’t believe in an after life but I believe in my grandfather.

Top 5 Albums people should listen to?
This isn’t in any order and I’m going for a bit of variety so:
1. “The Feel Good Record Of The Year” – No Use For A Name
2. “Lizzie: The Musical”
3. “Hospice” – The Antlers
4. “Good Kid, M.A.A.D city” – Kendrick Lamar
5. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” – Against Me!

Teagan Wouters

Toby Francis: What was the first album you ever bought?
“1995 Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras Party Anthem”. I was 9 years old and heard it playing in a music shop and had to have it! I think I was destined then to have a career in musical theatre.

Who was your favourite artist growing up?
Tina Arena! I just love her effortless voice.

What is your guilty pleasure album?
Anything musical theatre. I’m a musical theatre nerd at heart. And maybe a little Alanis Morissette – “Jagged Little Pill”, to belt out in the car.

What song do you want to be played for the first dance at your wedding? And at your funeral?
Wedding… it will be on loan from my brother because I sang it at his wedding but, “You And I” by Ingrid Michaelson. Something borrowed right?

Funeral… I don’t know! Something that’s happy?!

Song that breaks your heart, and another that lifts you up?
Heartbreaking, Sara Bareilles – “Manhattan”. Uplifting, Wilson Philips – “Hold On”.

Catch Toby Francis and Teagan Wouters in High Fidelity, the musical.
Dates: 18 Nov – 17 Dec, 2017
Venue: Hayes Theatre

5 Questions with Danielle King and Johnny Nasser

Danielle King

Johnny Nasser: Is theatre dead?
Danielle King: Fuck, I hope not! Maybe it’s starving. But it’s, historically, proved resilient. And, surely, somebody who has the insight, ability and fortunes to recognise the benefits of having a thriving arts scene to the mental health, education, evolution and tourism trade of a society will realise that it needs support….? Aren’t there studies saying this by far, far greater minds than mine? It’s hard enough trying to justify being involved in productions within the Independent Theatre scene where the actor is sponsoring the production with their time and resources for free without holding onto the ideal that Theatre will, any day now, be restored to health. Risks are still being taken, new writing still being discovered and classics still being performed- we just need to turn up and support the companies doing it.

Why do you act?
Because- you’ll be relieved to know- I’m not qualified to diagnose you, operate on you in surgery, defend you in a court of law, educate you in a classroom or even mix you a cocktail but I can be part of a company that tries to tell you a story to make you think differently, laugh, fall in love, chill you, break your heart and help you forget a shitty day. And I think that should have its place, and I’d like to be a part of that.

You have a lot of experience with classical text, does your approach as an actor differ with new writing?
I don’t think so. You’ve still got to find the truth and humanity in any text and attempt to communicate that. The difference is that you may be one of the first, if not the first, performer to attempt to find that characters voice in new writing, whereas you’re often following in other actors footsteps- sometimes extremely well documented and lauded and, therefore, intimidating footsteps. In new writing, you often have the writer there to be able to develop the piece and the language within it with the cast. Phil is handling our mangling of his writing with a gracious patience and, at times, a stick…

Have you ever been involved in a riot?
I haven’t. Especially not like the one Sharon describes in the play. I guess I can understand how a group of people can quickly and seemingly inexplicably become a mob and its terrifying. Even something as innocuous as a group of fans for a celebrity or a football match that’s particularly heated can become dangerous if the hysteria gets out of hand. To have that number of people powered by protest, frustration or passion it doesn’t seem to take much for civil human behaviour to become riotous. Maybe it’s something about being a group, you’re faceless and so the consequences feel removed. That seems to be Sharon’s experience in the play.

Do you have racist friends?
That’s such a tough question. Yeah, I probably do. Thoughtless, careless comments are made by some, which I may or may not call out at the time. So that’s something for me to address.. Snap judgements made, and shared, whilst watching the news etc. Having conversations with the cast and other creatives around events and sentiments in this play has been really challenging, however, with what’s happening around the world these are conversations to be had- and our medium happens to be the theatre.

Johnny Nasser

Danielle King: This is the first time we’ve worked together. Who are you and how’d you start acting?
Johnny Nasser: I’m someone who still doesn’t know what they want to be when they grow up, so I will continue to act until that happens. When will that be I wonder? I got a taste for acting as a teenager and had an older brother who was an actor who introduced me to the storytelling caper.

You recently did a creative development on another show and Night Slows Down is a new work, is this a coincidence or do you particularly enjoy being involved in the new writing process?
75% of the theatre work I have done has been new or actor supported devised work and I think I’m naturally drawn to that. Working on a new work takes a lot of commitment, energy and there’s no guarantees of an amazing product. When a show you’ve been involved in from its infancy works and resonates with an audience it’s very satisfying.

The subject of the play is pretty close to the bone looking at world events. Have you ever experienced similar behaviour to Martin, though not to the extent of the events in the play?
I’m of Lebanese descent and growing up got called the usual names: Wog etc… can’t say I enjoyed that and didn’t understand why I was being belittled when I felt like any other Australian kid. Even in terms of casual racism people should consider how a comment is received rather than intended.

When is violence acceptable?
When a cockroach invades your home. That sounds like a Seth comment from the play doesn’t it? My answer is never and sometimes. I have great admiration for those who refuse to resort to violence in the face of violence and tyranny. Could I be that brave? I doubt it.

What music are you listening to and are you discovering anything new?
In the play, Martin and Seth get into a passionate discussion about Kendrick Lamar, so I’m listening to plenty of Kendrick. Especially “M.A.A.D City” which is totally…… dope? Is that what the cool cats say? It’s quite a departure from my usual diet of ABC local radio I tell you!

Catch Danielle King and Johnny Nasser in Night Slows Down, by Phillip James Rouse.
Dates: 17 Nov – 9 Dec, 2017
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Zoe Jensen and Emma O’Sullivan

Zoe Jensen

Emma O’Sullivan: What do you find the most challenging about performing?
Zoe Jensen: The thing I find the most challenging is pretty basic: it’s the absolute fear that I will second-guess myself in the moment and drop a line, or forget some blocking, or (worst thing ever) lose my shit and start laughing and not be able to pull it back! Thank goodness though most of these things aren’t issue if you practise often enough!

What’s your secret for getting into character?
Everyone’s got their own way of doing it. What I find works for me is to spend at least half an hour before the show going over the big moments in the play for my character. Clarifying this to myself. I find that once I’ve found those 2 or 3 moments, I can drop into it a lot easier. Also just being in the space, walking around and warming up, going over lines or speeches, even just listening to some music – these are all extremely helpful tools.

What’s your dream role?
My dream role would be to play a super bad-ass cold-hearted private detective, and solve some really messed up crimes. (This is what I would love to do in real life but I don’t have the patience to go to uni and do some science thing for years and years, so playing a character who does this would be the BEST THING EVER!) One day…

Tell us about your show Orange Is The New Crack?
Our show is a silly silly silly little show, that will make you laugh A LOT and forget about everything outside of the theatre 😊 There’s no big morals, or messages or anything like that. It’s just myself, Jane and Michael reverting back to childhood and playing a funny make-believe game. I assure you it’s very entertaining!

Why should people go and see Hijacked Rabbit?
Four new pieces of Australian Work?!?! That’s incredible! And they are all under an hour, and have really talented actors, writers and directors behind them, and you can have a drink and a HUGE laugh. It’s such a fun, chilled, entertaining night 😊

Emma O’Sullivan

Zoe Jensen: What do you find the most challenging about performing?
Emma O’Sullivan: There’s a tonne of great challenges for me when performing. One big challenge is making sure I leave whatever day I’ve had at the door. Some days a billion different things happen before I’ve even headed in to the theatre, I try my best to make sure they don’t bleed into the story I’m about to tell onstage.

The second big challenge for me is if I’ve got the luxury of doing heaps of runs of a show then finding that sweet spot between all my preparation and keeping it fresh as a new pair of sneakers every night, you know? You don’t want to go nuts and do stuff like throwing a chair across the room mid scene to keep it fresh – I just want it to be nice and aired out for each audience. Trusting the work I’ve done and then going out there and performing it like; I haven’t done it for the last 2 months, and I didn’t trip over and rip my pants in act one the night before and just go for it. Each show may be the last one I ever get to do so I try to just go for a ride.

What’s your secret for getting into character?
I just try to get the hell out of my own way. Before each show I warm up like there’s no tomorrow, then just sit somewhere for 5 minutes. I just close my eyes, breathe and try to tune out any noise from the day – and any thoughts that are useless for the task I’ve got ahead of me. I started doing that a few years ago and it really seems to help me.

Now, tell us a about Hijacked Rabbit and how you’re involved?
Hijacked Rabbit is this rad season that Jackrabbit Theatre have put together. They’ve selected four one-act, really punchy and tasty pieces of theatre to show at Blood Moon Theatre in Kings Cross from October 31st- November 11th. It’s such a fantastic opportunity to get some theatre onstage that ranges from balls-to-the-wall comedy through to some seriously heartfelt moments.

I’ll be performing in Hit which is written and directed by Lincoln Vickery. The cast also includes heaps of serious talent including Adam Sollis, Seamus Quinn and Elle Harris. It’s such a treat getting to see them all work. The show is honestly like nothing you could ever imagine and is such a blast to perform in. And on every other night I’ll be performing in a one-woman show I’ve written called It’s Mars Time, directed by Charlotte Devenport. I literally cannot wait to do it!

Oh, and then of course there’s your show Orange Is The New Crack written by James Sweeny and Gate 64, written and performed by Jane Watt.

And your one woman show, It’s Mars Time, where does the inspiration come from for your character of Judy?
It comes from loads of different points of interest for me. One of them is the fact that some people (including myself) are just not natural born leaders. I honestly find it hilarious having to really figure out any sort of leadership position I’m in as I go along. Sometimes doing it right and sometimes getting it so so wrong. But what I’m really interested in is watching someone deal with that in a super heightened situation such as; being in a leader in a WWIII bunker, and being severely under-experienced for the job. There’s a comical amount of people in leadership positions in the world who – like Judy – are not natural born leaders and have to just deal with it. It can be hilarious to watch but the results can also be a real tragedy.

I’m also really intrigued by people who have extremely heightened survival instincts. And I love that they’ll prepare for a war no matter the circumstances, they’re survivors and just do what they need to do. I’m fascinated by their natural instincts to get organised, and get prepared for a tragedy at any given moment. You name it – they’ve got a plan for it.

And which show is better do you think, Orange Is The New Crack or It’s Mars Time?
(Laughs) Both of the shows are brill! But lucky for everyone they’re on the same night as a double bill, so the they/I don’t have to choose 😉

Zoe Jensen and Emma O’Sullivan are appearing in Hijacked Rabbit, an anthology of 4 comedies.
Dates: 31 October – 11 November, 2017
Venue: Blood Moon Theatre

5 Questions with Claudia Barrie and Emily J Stewart

Claudia Barrie

Emily J Stewart: If you were lost in a labyrinth what would you do and why?
Claudia Barrie: If I was lost in THE Labyrinth I would have tea with the worm and his Missus, hang out with Sir Didymus and then dance with Jareth the Goblin King.

Destination you’ve not been to yet and why?
Japan. Desperate to go there. For the snow, food, culture. Everything.

How important was the casting of Time Stands Still?
Just as important as it is with any show. It’s not just about talent, chemistry and work ethic. It’s also about balancing personalities. Can I spend the next couple of months with this person? Luckily all of the cast (and crew) of TSS are a bunch of legends!

What has working in a non-conventional space been like?
Actually once we got past all the usual technical challenges, it’s been really freeing and as a result I think we’ve created a beautiful and very relaxed space.

If you weren’t doing what you are doing now what would you do?
Paint!

Emily J Stewart

Claudia Barrie: If you could have 3 dinner party guests who would they be and why?
Emily J Stewart: Prince; greatest creative musical genius and inspiration. My dad; to check in on how he’s going up there and tell him about the show. Nelson Mandela; he maintained such dignity through heartbreaking circumstances. Incredibly humbling.

What has been the best part of the Time Stands Still journey so far?
Seeing something that I have been working on for almost 5 years come to life with such incredible people involved.

Name your greatest inspiration?
My dad; He was a jazz muso. Played and wrote sheet music for near on 12 instruments. Extremely passionate, taught me to follow anything I wanted to do, as long as I did it with everything I have.

How have you navigated the complexities of the script for Time Stands Still?
There are so many layers of the text. Each layer takes time to build. Gradually layer by layer I’ve pieced Sarah together and each night the layers and connection deepens.

Do you see a life for this show beyond the Tap?
It would be great to add greater production value to the show, in a bigger warehouse with larger audience capacity.

Claudia Barrie directs Emily J Stewart in Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies.
Dates: 1 – 25 November, 2017
Venue: Tap Gallery

5 Questions with Cheryn Frost and Thomas E.S. Kelly

Cheryn Frost

Thomas E.S. Kelly: What is your show about?
Cheryn Frost: Fem Menace is about how there is a monster inside me. It’s also about women; the fun we have, the fears we face, our lived and shared experiences. 

What made you want to explore this topic?
We wanted to make a work that is about being women, the world in which we live and the monsters we’re constantly facing and fighting. Considering the huge discussion at the moment with how women are being mistreated by monsters in the industry, it reinforces the importance of continuing that dialogue and getting our voices heard by wider audience.

Why now?
Why not?

What can the audience expect watching your work?
You can expect a warped fragmented party, with a slap of reality, a drop knee of what ifs, a shot of confidence and purge of monsters.

Who has helped bring your project to life?
Catherine McNamara & Tahlee Leeson! They are the other two spicy ladies that make up Fish Hook. The three of us met whilst studying at the University of Wollongong and realised that we all wanted to make dynamic kick-ass theatre. Fish Hook was born and here we are finally making our first show that actual people will see!

Thomas E.S. Kelly

Cheryn Frost: What is your show about?
Thomas E.S. Kelly: Shifting > Shapes is about shape shifting. Humans to animals to landforms and back again. Looking at it through an Indigenous and non-Indigenous lens, seeing it culturally and how it sits in today’s society. 

What has been the biggest challenge making the work?
The biggest challenge for this work is simply just time. Making sure that I’ve dedicated enough time to all the elements so that the show works on all levels.

What do you hope your audience will think about when they leave your show?
I always hope that when the audience leaves one of my shows that they find out something about the Aboriginal culture that they didn’t know before and then find a place for that knowledge in today’s society.

Who and or what inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my lineages of the past and future. The lineage of my ancestors, my family, my dance lineage.

You can have dinner with 5 people (living or dead) who do you choose and why?
Nan and Pop on my mothers side because they passed away when I was younger and I have so many questions for them. And a family member from each one of my heritages that is the knowledge keepers to simply listen and learn. 1 Aboriginal 1 Ni-Vanuatu 1 Irish.

Catch Cheryn Frost and Thomas E.S. Kelly in Fem Menace / Shifting > Shapes, part of the Afterglow season at PACT.
Dates: 22 – 25 November, 2017
Venue: PACT

5 Questions with Lap Nguyen and Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame

Lap Nguyen

Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame: Did you bring any of your own experiences of being a foreigner in Australia to the rehearsal process?
Lap Nguyen: Yes, it certainly felt very odd playing a foreigner in an Australia Day committee and being a foreigner in Australia itself! I bought a lot of unnecessary awkwardness to the character simply because I had encountered so many of those moments but what I think I forgot about Chester is that he’s a lot more adaptable than I am. I think he handled the whole ‘fitting in’ thing a lot better than I did. Plus he’s so likeable and cute (I’m playing him by the way). 

What is the most rewarding project you’ve ever worked on and why?
It’s probably a year 10 school production I did in Vietnam hah! All My Sons by Arthur Miller. It’s rewarding in the selfish way that the audience probably didn’t get anything out of it but I learnt so much throughout the entire process. 

It was really an enlightening moment to be honest. I played Chris Keller and I was so shitty at it. I had this habit of dragging my feet back then and every line I said or when I moved, there would be this screeching noise on the floor. I would mumble my lines, forget my blocking, the whole shazam. It was horrid. The funny thing was that I actually thought I did a good job at the time! Looking back at it, the best thing I learnt is that, no matter how good you think you are, you’re probably shit. Which sounds like harsh advice but I personally take it with me on every production now. I always strive to be better than what I think I am. Sometimes it works, sometimes I end up crying myself to sleep…

Who was the first actor you saw that blew you away?
Johnny Depp. Jack Sparrow. He was infectious. The role’s gone a bit downhill now but back then, Sparrow was the jam. He was my Iron-Man back in the day! Depp did such a phenomenal job fleshing our that role, it made me realise that it doesn’t take an Oscar to make someone’s childhood. 14 years old me was hooked to the bone. 

Your character Chester has a tendency to make poorly timed jokes, has there been a time where you, Lap have done the same?
All the time. I also can’t tell jokes apparently. I find myself way too funny. I just laugh and kill the gag before it even arrives. 

An acrostic poem for Australia Day please:
Anyone
Up for
Satire
Theatre? 
Really
Amazing
Lap
In yet
Another play!

Don’t forget to
Accentuate
Your lovely actors! 

Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame

Lap Nguyen: Have you ever been involved with an Australia Day committee?
Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame: You know what, I absolutely haven’t. I actually haven’t sat on any committee. I am however from a rural country town, so I think I get the je ne sais quoi or lack there of, that comes from being part of such a small community. 

What was your last Australia Day like?
I’m not one to really celebrate Australia Day, as not all Australians see January 26 as a day of celebration, and I want to stand with them.  I would much rather change the date, so all Australians feel they can come together to celebrate what is great about this fair country of ours. 
 
My favourite Australia Day however, was spent in Pokhara, Nepal. Started the day with some vegemite & cheese on toast (!!), that was spread so thick it stung our gums, followed by tandem paragliding. Catching those sweet thermals, that sent my friends into a cold sweat, with the most magical view of the lake in front of us, and the Himalayas behind. Put it on your bucket list if you haven’t done so already!
 
What’s it like to work with the New Theatre’s Australia Day cast and team?
Working with actors that have had so much more experience than me, is truly humbling. It has been wonderful to watch their processes and see how they tackle all the elements of the script. Everyone brings such a different quality to the rehearsal process, it’s a really warm, enjoyable space. 

What was your first performance and how was it?
My first performance was as a four year old, where I played the princess in Princess Smarty Pants at my preschools Christmas production. Whilst lapping up the attention, what I didn’t like was having to give my co-star Cory, a kiss on the cheek, because boys: ick! Having said that, it did turn Prince Swashbuckle into a gigantic warty toad and meant none of the other princes wanted to marry me, so I lived happily ever after. 

What is your dream role?
I don’t know if there is just one role that is my dream role. There are many characters that I have watched over the years and been enamoured with. Mostly badass chicks that get shit done! Lagertha the kick-arse shield maiden from Vikings is one, Tanya from the film Chopper with her brilliant one liners is another. Debbie Jellinsky from The Addams Family Values! *Sigh* So much fun! 

Lap Nguyen and Amelia Robertson-Cuninghame are appearing in Australia Day, by Jonathan Biggins.
Dates: 14 November – 16 December, 2017
Venue: New Theatre