5 Questions with Jack Walton and Sheree Zellner

Jack Walton

Sheree Zellner: When friends ask you, “What is Distorted about,” what do you tell them?
Jack Walton: When I think about Distorted I often see it as is a fractured story about fractured people. We get to glimpse into key stages of people’s deepest relationships as well as witness the most isolated moments in their lives. So much of the play is flavoured with this brilliantly witty humour but then you get to have these beautiful, intimate moments of just living with these people as they go though things like addiction, mental health, pregnancy and loneliness.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about yourself through playing the role of Alex?
I feel like there’s a new discovery after each run but what sticks out to me is just how much I value the key people around me. When I think about the people I’m closest there’s a bond that I also see Alex discover with his girlfriend where they each allow their best and worst versions of themselves be presented to one another which creates all kinds of drama but it’s also the kind of relationship that you don’t always fully appreciate until it’s at risk of being taken away.

Without giving too much away, what is your favourite scene or character from Distorted and why?
There’s a great scene near the middle of the play where my character and Poppy Lynch’s character have this wild screaming match. It’s hilarious because what they’re arguing about is so ridiculous and off topic but under the surface we start to see a new side to their relationship. That’s definitely the scene I feel most free in as well, there’s no point where you can hide from the audience so you just have to dive into it head first.

What do you think people will take away with them after seeing Distorted?
Each character in the play has some surface level identity. Some kind of stereotype that people would attach to them passing by on the street. I think what’s so great about Distorted is that it gives the audience a chance to see the humanity that lies below these assumptions. You suddenly have more empathy for people when you get to see their story in front of you. So in short, if there’s anything an audience could take away from this show I hope it’s some version of empathy.

What was your initial reaction after we did our first full run of Distorted?
I was exhausted! I have most of my scenes with one other actor so I didn’t actually get to meet most of the cast until we all came together for our first run. Having not rehearsed with everyone in the room before that point I was really impressed with how everything slotted into place. Usually doing a first run of any production is pretty bumpy but because this play moves at a such lightning pace everyone was switched on and ready to pounce onto whatever cues were thrown at them. There was a great sense of achievement after that run.

Sheree Zellner

Jack Walton: Distorted has such a distinctly energised writing style. How does it feel to perform something that is always so active?
Sheree Zellner: I love the energetic style of Xavier Coy’s writing, really keeps us on our toes, there’s always something happening onstage and off, it’s a great lesson in keeping the ball in the air at all times. For my 62 year old brain that’s got to be a good thing! Thankfully I love to be challenged and there’s always Berocca… Seriously though, because the writing is so energised, it informs our performances naturally, so it’s like getting caught in a theatrical vortex.

What do you find exciting about playing with new works?
Being involved from the ground up is so satisfying because we are the first ones to put our stamp on these characters. We’re not following in others footsteps, we’re making the first forays into the lives of our characters and everything we experience as actors in creating these characters is completely original. For an actor that’s pure gold, we’re a very fortunate ensemble.

Why do you think people value relationships so intensely?
Generally speaking I’d say that it’s about connection. I think it’s something we’re always looking for in every aspect of our lives, at home, at work, on social media. Connection can bring out the best and worst of humanity and I think we see that very clearly in Distorted. This play really shows all aspects of how we connect, the lengths we go to for connection and the lengths we go to when we want to avoid connection because it’s too painful. Our director Richard Hilliar has been instrumental in bringing those connections, or lack thereof, into sharper focus. He’s been so unwaveringly supportive, we’re all very thankful for that.

What have you found most challenging about rehearsing Distorted?
Ha ha, how long have you got! Well let me see… firstly my character Louise is a bit of a hot mess and her way of coping with her issues is not something I’m familiar with at all on a personal level. Let’s just say that the research was very interesting! Then of course, as an actor I have to find my way of playing that, of inhabiting her world and her views. Also as an older actor I have to keep my focus laser sharp for every second of this play, whether onstage or off. I’ve got notes pinned to walls everywhere so I don’t forget anything!

This play has changed a lot since we got the initial script. How has your view of your character changed/developed?
It’s changed so much since the initial script, but one thing was very clear to me after that first table read, which is that I was going to have to just surrender to each development. After deciding on backstories to suit, Xavier then reworked all the scenes incorporating the original scenes, but adapting them to suit and expanding exponentially on our characters, as did Richard in the rehearsal room. The changes and developments just kind of happened, and my views about my own character Louise became a part of the whole ‘surrender’ philosophy. Looking back I am amazed by the process and how much I’ve learned from it. This season of Distorted is going to be a wild ride, that much I do know!

Jack Walton and Sheree Zellner can be seen in Distorted, by Xavier Coy.
Dates: 10 – 22 Mar, 2020
Venue: Old 505 Theatre

5 Questions with Eddie Orton and Tim Walker

Eddie Orton

Tim Walker: The show is a very physical piece of theatre. What has been the most difficult skill you’ve had to learn and which scares you the most?
Eddie Orton: I’ve had some experience with dance and played lots of sport in the past which helped with picking up the skills, especially the acrobatics. The hardest one to learn and master is probably a two high, with you standing on my shoulders. Once you’re up it’s fine, it’s the timing that’s difficult

We’ve worked together in the past, performing Shakespeare in pubs, these are vastly different shows, have you learnt something new about me?
They are certainly super different shows. I’ve learnt that you’re actually a good actor. Haha sorry. I joke. I’ve learnt that you’re an extremely proficient acrobat, both as a flyer and a base. I didn’t know that last year.

When we began rehearsals Shane presented us with over 10,000 pages of research, were there things that surprised you or shocked you?
All of it is shocking to be blunt. You think you have an understanding of Australia’s history but I was very naive. The lack of police action and the sheer volume of cases that are still unsolved is deeply shocking.

We have a couple of school shows throughout this season, why do you think it’s important for young people to learn about this part of Australian history?
It needs to be recognised because I think it’s a part of Australian history that is largely forgotten and ignored. We think we know everything about our history but we don’t. This is not just a problem for the past, it’s a problem for today.

What’s next for Eddie Orton?
Next up is something which I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but I’m very excited about it.

Tim Walker

Eddie Orton: What’s something no one knows about Tim Walker?
Tim Walker: I was once an impromptu stand-in for Neil Gallagher of Oasis. We had similar hair apparently so he and I exchanged shirts and I drove Mischa Barton of The OC around in a 50’s cab while he went to the pub for a feed.

What’s the most difficult part of the show physically for you?
Haha can I say rehearsal? No probably the two high with you. As you say it’s in the timing. I’m excited to do it in front of an audience with even less space to work with haha.

How does movement and physical theatre inform this work?
One of the things that really shocked me in the research was how graphic and horrific the violence was. We felt it was necessary to find a language outside of text that informs this whilst acknowledging the sensitivity of violence for audience members. What we’ve created is a physical language, that abstracts the violence, whilst remaining true to the intention of the verbatim text.

Why do you think it’s important that these stories be heard now?
This show isn’t just about history. It’s also about hope for the future. About how important recognition and acknowledgement are for healing. We know there are thousands of people who have never spoken about their experience with hate crimes and the parliamentary enquiry into these hate crimes has been reopened. The Aids Council of New South Wales are actually still calling for submissions from people affected by hate crimes up until 28th February. We are having an event co-hosted with ACON, post show on Sunday February 23rd and we hope the show will encourage people to make these submissions.

What’s next for Tim Walker?
Well last year I received a small commission to make a few of my own projects. I’ve just finished post production on a short film I wrote and about to start pre on my next one which I’m excited about!

Eddie Orton and Tim Walker can be seen in Our Blood Runs In The Street.
Dates: 19 Feb – 21 Mar, 2020
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre

5 Questions with Isaro Kayitesi and Mansoor Noor

Isaro Kayitesi

Mansoor Noor: If you could take one thing with you to the after life what would it be?
Isaro Kayitesi: My great tchotchke collection would be comforting, but actually I think I would take the good memories from my life to play over and over again whenever I wanted. Though, that’s assuming that I’d have a mind to experience them in…?

What’s it like learning every role in a play?
Well “nearly” every role… I reckon it must be really good for my brain (the nervous system, not so much). I’ve been doing a lot of shutting off of that little voice inside my head that’s saying: “this is impossible!!” I just hope I don’t start mouthing the other character’s lines while I’m not supposed to be playing them!

Who would you turn to for help on a presentation about your life?
Probably my mother because she is a glass-half-full kind of person, so I think she would leave out all the bad bits for me.

Who’s your favourite cast member slash which one of us would you take to meet God?
I’d probably take you, only because you naturally talk much more rapidly than I do so you could ask “God” like a million questions and do all the talking until I could actually wrap my head around the whole weirdness of the fact that I was apparently meeting “God”! (I don’t have favourites! That is crazy!)

Are you nervous about not knowing which role you will get to play each night?
Not knowing means that I’m going to have to just go for it without any time to over think. It also helps to know that there are 5 of us going through the same thing. So, no, not yet, but ask me again on the first night!

Mansoor Noor

Isaro Kayitesi: Would you rather go to an afterlife or just disappear in to nothingness, and why?
Defs the afterlife. Have you not seen The Good Place? It’s a never ending party where you can do whatever you like! The Good Place is based on facts… right?

Which kinds of lines do you find the hardest to remember?
All of them… apparently. Nah but seriously… the ones where you have to remember EVERY CHARACTER’S LINES.

Are you going to call “line!” during a show if you dry? Or what will you do if you forget your lines in front of an audience?
My usual trick is to just freeze and hope that nobody notices. Nah I’m kidding… I’ve only done that once. In this show we’re lucky because the actor opposite us knows all of our lines too. So the real question is, what will you do Isaro if I forget my lines?

How existential do you get in your day to day life; has working on this play affected that?
You might say I’m constantly in existential crisis. But it has nothing to do with this play. More with the fact that I’m a single, sometimes working actor (and headshot photographer at www.mansoornoor.com – I’ve mentioned this in another Suzy interview, she’s down with it) and living in a share-house. But no, I’m fine. I’m really, really fine.

Would you walk out on your friend’s death bed if they irrevocably insulted you?
Walk out? Never. I’d most likely smother them… with forgiveness… just so I could look like the bigger person… and then watch them die anyway. If that got too dark then I’m blaming the play.

Isaro Kayitesi and Mansoor Noor can be seen in Everybody, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
Dates: 6 – 21 Mar, 2020
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Di Adams and Patrick Jhanur

Di Adams

Patrick Jhanur: What do you love about the Australian theatre community?
Di Adams: I love that there are actors, directors, creatives who move between mainstage and independent productions dependent on the work and the company. There appears to be a level of respect for good work that allows this to happen. In the independent sector I am constantly impressed that so many people work so hard to put on a show with virtually no money, relying on so much good will and just a drive to produce theatre. I love being a part of these shows because everyone is giving their time, and everyone is so committed because why would you do it for nothing if you didn’t love it?

What is the most surprising unscripted, unexpected moment you’ve experienced on stage?
I did a play a few years ago with an older actor and we had the final scene together. A few moments in she suffered a mini stroke and could only tap my arm. At first, I thought she had completely forgotten her lines but then I realised something was wrong. I had a brief moment where I thought – should I stop and ask if there’s a doctor in the house? But I just went ahead and did a 2-person scene basically as a monologue. A friend in the audience had no idea anything had happened and neither did my fellow cast mates backstage. The actor was fine the next day, but it was terrifying at the time!

What are your top tips for approaching a new Australian work?
Be open and prepared for changes! Also make cuts with a pencil cause they’re likely to find their way back in to the script. If the writer is involved it’s great to have a good
relationship with them so you can discuss and suggest what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been so lucky having Angus around and so open to making the play the best it can be.

Who would be your most influential sport role model?
I’m not a sports fan so this is hard. I guess I would have to say Adam Goodes purely for the dignified way he handled the horrendous racist treatment he received during his career. It was inspiring and it showed him to have more humanity than any of the people who vilified him. And I’d mention Ian Thorpe for his bravery and his support of youth with mental health issues as patron of Reach Out.

In Australian Open, your character embarks upon a spectacular adventure, what would be your dream trip of a lifetime?
I’m not really into adventure holidays. Give me a big city and lots of walking & eating/drinking local specialities. That said – I’ve always wanted to sail around the Greek Islands and swim into the beach to a little Taverna with delicious food waiting.

Patrick Jhanur

Di Adams: Do you feel any responsibility doing a new work?
Patrick Jhanur: Absolutely, it’s a huge honour being a part of a completely new Australian story. The ripples of new Australian work tend to inspire different, fresh and often subversive perspectives within our theatre community and cannon. It’s so vital that these new works continue to occupy creative space with diverse and authentic Australian voices so as to create a self-sustaining and perpetually evolving industry.

There’s a line in the play about training, focus, competition, is this applicable to acting as well?
I like to put myself through a bit of a boot camp in the lead up to a gig. I might be a bit of a hermit in the weeks preceding and keep to a consistent health and fitness routine. Nothing too hectic! My day starts with 1200 crunches, 750 push ups and 18 Weetbix drizzled with organic honey from Amazonian Bees.

What is the difference between working in main stage and independent theatre?
I think independent theatre demands phenomenal stamina. I love the rigour of this creative process where in everyone committed to the gig is doing their job with less of many variables and luxuries you’re afforded in a main stage show. The sense of camaraderie amongst this chaos is wonderful. Often, plays we see on indie stages are new, untried or tested so you become very dependent on the trust built between your ensemble and fellow creatives.

If you could be in any play anywhere, what play and where?
Performing on the West End in London is my highest ambition. I also have this extravagant fantasy of one day performing in a play at the State Theatre here in Sydney. It’s such a spectacularly grand and beautiful space. I couldn’t choose between Holding The Man or Death Of A Salesman. They’re both incredibly influential plays for me and hold such great sentiment in their teaching me of the power and beauty of storytelling and theatre.

How do you feel about the sweltering conditions and harsh summer heat that tennis players compete in the Australian Open and could you do that?
A game of tennis in 35+ degree heat doesn’t sound too bad for a six figure plus pay day! I do love working under extreme pressure or uncomfortable circumstances or conditions. I’ve done a few touring gigs where things have gone awry and the pressure to make it work no matter and get the job done is thrilling!

Di Adams and Patrick Jhanur can be seen in Australian Open, by Angus Cameron.
Dates: 14 – 29 Feb, 2020
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Jeremi Campese and Aanisa Vylet

Jeremi Campese

Aanisa Vylet: Hey Jeremi, what excites you the most about this production of Hamlet?
Jeremi Campese: Harriet’s performance first and foremost. But also, Peter’s vision of nostalgia incorporates projections of memories (shot on a period-appropriate Super 8mm camera!!). Placing the past in such clear view gives the present a REALLY moving poignancy at particular moments. I won’t say too much else about the projections, but they’re beautiful and work with Hamlet constantly trying to look back and remember/grieve for his father. The same for Ophelia too!

I understand that you have worked previously with Bell Shakespeare as part of their Players Education program, what was the process like and how has it contributed to your approach during rehearsals?
It was a total joy. Especially performing at regional schools: you’re often their only form of live Shakespeare (and sometimes of live performance) so they were super generous in their excitement and willingness to learn. Of course, there are down days and tough audiences — hormonal 14 years olds at 9am? Thank u next. The whole tour has just made me far more confident in myself as an actor and with the Shakespearean text. But most importantly, no audience can intimidate you after performing to some of those teenagers!

Can you tell us a little bit about your character Rosencrantz and his buddy Guildenstern?
Ros and Guil are school-friends of Hamlet’s. They probably haven’t seen him in a couple years since uni began, but the King and Queen call them after Hamlet’s behaviour becomes strange to find out what’s wrong. It’s a very fun dynamic because they’re constantly having to choose between their childhood friend and the authority of the Court.

Something that I very much respect about your practice is that you are self taught. Do you have any advice for younger actors who wish to pursue a similar path?
Acting is an applied discipline, so it’s only natural that best way to learn is just on the job. So, my advice would just be to keep yourself busy with work. If you don’t have a show lined up, go to auditions; if you don’t have auditions lined up, do workshops (ATYP run fantastic ones for e.g.); if you don’t have workshops lined up, read/learn monologues (contemporary, Shakespearean, classical). If you keep your actor-brain working whenever you can, you’ll always be improving. But also, don’t totally throw away drama school as an option: take those auditions and opportunities seriously.

Which character do you have a secret crush on in Hamlet?
WOW what a question. Maybe Gertrude. I truly think her and Claudius love each other dearly: and Lisa McCune (who’s playing her) and I agree, she was definitely a party animal when she was younger!

Aanisa Vylet

Jeremi Campese: What excites you most about this production of Hamlet?
Witnessing Harriet Gordon Anderson play Hamlet and seeing Peter Evans’ vision for the work unfold. What excites me the most about this endeavour is both Harriet and Peter’s commitment to drawing out Hamlet’s humanity. It is the first time I have witnessed Hamlet being played by a woman and I hope it is not the last.

The Mousetrap is a huge plot point in the play, and Shakespeare builds up to it a fair bit. Without giving too much away, what’s your vision for it in this show?
Hmmm…. Our collective vision is a melange of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Russian Absurdist Theatre, Ballet, Greek Tragedy & Comical Historical Pastoral Theatre.

Much of your work has been on contemporary and your own, new work (The Girl/The Woman was amazing). How have you found working on a classic text with such a long history of performance and study?
I will let you all in on a little secret – as a high school student I was terrified of Shakespeare. I am also an advocate of creating new work (as I truly believe we are the Shakespeare’s of our times). So… when I auditioned for this production I decidedly went in as my true self, with my truth and my interpretation of the text. I was deeply impressed with the collaborative approach of the Company. I felt at home as an artist and I quickly realised that we were creating a new play from an old story and I could still bring my artistry to it and I could learn quite a lot from the process.

I still believe we need to continue to create new stories that reflect the cultural sensibility of our times but I have also realised these stories have their place too. I believe the text, the world within these plays inspires audiences and speaks to the humanity in many people. The fears of “not knowing enough”, “not being articulate enough” or “stuffing it up” have calmed down due to these realizations, the help of generous cast members and an incredibly supportive company. And in terms of dealing with a text that has had such a long performance history… well… for me every text is up to interpretation.

Who’s your favourite character in the play?
Hamlet. Hands down. The first play I had ever seen was Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by John Bell. I was in year 10. I related to Hamlet so much… I could not understand why. All I knew was that I couldn’t shake the feeling that something hidden within me was laid bare on stage.

QUICK! The Aanisa Vylet biopic is being made: who do you want playing you?
A chorus of women of colour speaking in voice.

Jeremi Campese and Aanisa Vylet can be seen in Hamlet, by Bell Shakespeare.
Dates: 29 Feb – 4 Apr, 2020
Venue: Sydney Opera House

5 Questions with Rebecca Abdel-Messih and Kabir Singh

Rebecca Abdel-Messih

Kabir Singh: What do you love about your life as an actor?
Rebecca Abdel-Messih: I looooove how you’ll never play the same person twice. I say that acting is like travelling in a time machine, it takes me all over the world. I’ve recently been in Coram Boy, a world set in the 1800’s England and now The Spoils is set in 2015 New York and I’ve just learnt so much about the history of the countries. I’m yet to play an Aussie! That’s probably my next project.

What are the similarities between you and Reshma and what drew you towards the character?
I definitely can relate to her culturally, being a first generation Aussie myself, I understand sometimes being caught in two different worlds. Growing up with strange foods and a different language to people I went to school with. But my God, I love how badass she is! Something I’m definitely not haha but I admire her determination and passion not only in her career, but when standing up to Ben. I wish I could just kick him honestly.

What is your favourite part of the rehearsal process?
I love everything about it. The crew and cast are so fun, we can be serious one minute and having a laugh the next. I also love learning about my character and what makes her tick.

What does Kalyan bring to the table for you in this relationship?
He’s a sweet guy who wants the best for Reshma. Every woman’s dream. He brings security, goofiness and loyalty. Also damn how good’s that man bun and facial hair!

If you had to meet an actor dead or alive , who would it be and why?
Robin Williams! I honestly just want to give him a hug.

Kabir Singh

Rebecca Abdel-Messih: What do you love most about playing Kalyan Mathema?
Kabir Singh: Kalyan is a tender, innocent soul who has come this far on a scholarship to NYC because of his own hard work. What I love most about Kalyan is how proud he is of his Nepalese culture and shows it off constantly through his cuisine. I think he has very strong roots embedded in him but also has the openness to learn about other cultures and accept them for what they are. He is a hustler and a hard worker. A place like New York City will eat you alive if you don’t hustle and I think he doesn’t need to be told that, it is already embedded in his being from the get go .

How important is it to Kalyan to find someone like Reshma?
Although Kalyan is an independent man, having a partner alongside him is important. He has found that with Reshma who is successful, smart and strong minded. She voices her opinions about Ben which at times, Kalyan does not. The two compliment each other and even though Kalyan is somewhat a genius and will go through life doing great and important things, he has other ideas about how life should go and that is to settle down and have a family. For that reason Reshma is very important to Kalyan. Yes he loves her and wants to start a family with her at some point and the fact that he has found her, and she is close to his heritage, is from New York and is a doctor has a lot of draw points.

Is there hope for Ben?
There is always hope. Ben is a misguided soul with past traumas and just hasn’t healed, so he keeps pushing them on other people, especially Kalyan. Maybe because he comes from money and has a deluded sense of film making you may think there is no hope for Ben, but he has redeemable qualities at times and if he chooses to focus on those positive qualities then maybe there is hope for Ben just yet.

What would your ideal dinner party look like?
My ideal dinner party would consist of my closest friends and I would cook for all of them, take shots of vodka with every bite (Russian style) and be plastered before dessert.

What do you love about acting the most?
The idea to be able to explore your emotions and your opinions and ideas in a safe space. What I love the most is that it gives you a platform to really explore a characters mentality, physicality and emotional availability. These three things make a human being and to explore someone else so different from yourself, that you really have to dig deep and find emotions and experiences within yourself and draw parallels that you never thought was possible. Acting is doing the impossible sometimes and that’s what attracts me the most.

Rebecca Abdel-Messih and Kabir Singh can be seen in The Spoils by Jesse Eisenberg.
Dates: 29 Jan – 8 Feb, 2020
Venue: Flight Path Theatre

5 Questions with Nisrine Amine and Antony Makhlouf

Nisrine Amine

Antony Makhlouf: You play Josephine in Lady Tabouli, how would you describe her?
Nisrine Amine: She’s a handful. Lol. She is a strong woman, with a hard set of beliefs. Quite stubborn. But with a deep faith and loyalty to family. She is almost like the burghul (wheat) in a bowl of tabouli – a little hard on the teeth yet necessary for the salad to come together. She’s quite different to characters I’ve played in the past; not immediately likeable but you definitely grow to understand her as the play goes on. And that’s the main thing with characters on stage – not that we like them but that we can understand them.

Who is Lady Tabouli?
In the first iteration of the play (at Griffin Theatre as part of Batch Festival), Lady Tabouli was very clearly Danny’s alter ego; she was a vibrant and free sense of self that he was so desperately wanting, but struggling, to become. In this new version of the play, I think she is more elusive than that – she is up to individual interpretation and maybe sits somewhere between convention and progression? Shackles and freedom? She is the clash of culture and individuality; group identity and personal truth. Maybe I’ll have a better answer for you once she comes to life in January.

What are your thoughts on the “other” Lebanese salad, fattoush?
Oooo, I am a big fan. I like a good ‘crunch’ in my food. And we all know a good fattoush has some serious bread crunch game happening. So I think I might take a bowl of that over tabouli. Oh no, I have blasphemed. Alas.

Who’s your favourite character in the play?
I dunno but (director) Dino’s is ‘the heat’. (You’ll know when you watch).

So you’re directing James Elazzi’s Son of Byblos for Belvoir 25A next year. What are you looking forward to the most about this experience?
All of it! It’s going to be surreal moving ‘behind the scenes’ for one of James’ works (all of my connections with his work up to now has been as ‘actor’). There’s definitely going to be (self-imposed) pressure to continue Dino’s great directing work on a piece of Elazzi writing, but I’m up for the challenge. The main thing I’m looking forward to, in all honesty, is working with my actors. I am soooo eager to get into that rehearsal room and start building character and relationships. And to help lead the actors to beautiful and truthful moments.

Antony Makhlouf

Nisrine Amine: How similar are you and your character of Danny?
Antony Makhlouf: The similarities of Danny and I is that we’re both Australian-Lebanese men who need to balance two separate cultures. Despite the tug-of-war effect this can have at times, I love sitting within two cultures for it provides me with an insight into two worlds. This has broadened my outlook and enriched my understanding of people. I like to think I’ve created a hybrid culture of my own. Whereas with Danny, his circumstance does not afford him the space to do the same. Instead he needs to be ruthless in his pursuit of self-determination. This is where our similarities end.

What’s your favourite part about the rehearsal process?
I love those moments when you crack the scene open and the words on the page, that you’ve been reading for a while, come to a new and bigger meaning.

What mark are you hoping this play will make on the Sydney theatre scene?
Foremost, I hope Lady Tabouli draws in the people that it depicts. Don’t get me wrong, the play is open to all audiences, however there are members of the community that will see themselves on the stage and benefit from that experience. In Lady Tabouli’s preliminary version at Griffin Theatre’s Batch Festival, a large chunk of our audiences were just that, and the response was real and overwhelming. There is something very special and powerful about this work. It transcends the theatre and offers a release I believe certain marginalised communities are craving to experience. Thus, and with all respect, I am more interested in talking and affecting those people, above anything else.

What’s the key to the perfect bowl of tabouli?
You should probably ask my mum that one. But, I do love tabouli that is a day old – the flavours really settle in by then. Refrigerate overnight and then eat it with warm Lebanese bread.

Where to from here?
After Lady Tabouli, I finish filming season four of Get Arty. I also want to get cracking on creating a new collection of art prints. And I hope to continue to develop and grow as a performer, so a short course overseas somewhere is on the cards.

Nisrine Amine and Antony Makhlouf can be seen in Lady Tabouli by James Elazzi.
Dates: 9 – 18 Jan, 2020
Venue: Riverside