5 Questions with Kerith Manderson-Galvin and Tobias Manderson-Galvin

Kerith Manderson-Galvin

Tobias Manderson-Galvin: Kerith Manderson-Galvin, if that is your real name and by all accounts it is (and if anyone would know it’d be me because I’ve known you my whole life). Isn’t it true that you often impersonate yourself or me or Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum when you give interviews?
Kerith Manderson-Galvin: Tobi, Tobi do you remember you got invited to read at some playwright’s event and you were overseas and you didn’t tell them you were overseas I don’t think and so I went and read as you. And then someone who I won’t name because maybe people won’t know the person but then that person always said I was a good actor. Which was so nice of them. Also I once performed in your place for another thing too.

That’s interesting that you bring up Jeff Goldblum because David Cronenberg once said to me, “No Kerith,” because I was and am an adept mimic, he said to me, “no Kerith, you’re doing it again.” And I said, “That’s right, do it the Kerith way, not the Jeff way.” And that’s just some of the fun we had.

Are you guys brothers?
We used to love that movie didn’t we but I think now I would hate it or be upset by it so I feel like it’s best we never watch it again.

Have you already lived this life and can you tell all of your fans an amusing story because if there’s one thing you’ve taught me it’s that people don’t really want to hear answer to a question?
I can’t think of anything amusing because you have put me under a lot of pressure Tobi, now I feel like it has to be the best and I can’t think of anything and can’t we do something else instead I really don’t want this to be the question and no I don’t need a glass of water. I’m just tired.

How old is the world and how much older will it be?
Age: 4.543 billion years
Mass: 5.972 × 10^24 kg
Distance from Sun: 149.6 million km
Population: 7.347 billion (2015) World Bank
Life expectancy: 71.46 years (2014) World Bank
Life Achievements: Best dancer on the Senior Single’s Cruise, 4 published Autobiographies, Runner on Law and Order Season 61, Episode 3.

So you have a show coming up is that right *slightly disaffected*?
I heard the exact same thing about you.

Tobias Manderson-Galvin

Kerith Manderson-Galvin: Yes Hello Tobi. Isn’t it true that you and I are twins, and that we are mirror twins, which is a superior form of twin?
Tobias Manderson-Galvin: This is a boldfaced lie, or misinformation, as I am two years your senior and in no way your twin.

Wait, I don’t understand. What do you mean we’re not twins? I’ve never heard any stories about you before I was born.
Yes there was the story of my first words: when I had seen some birds, then saw either more birds or the original birds for a second time and rightly or wrongly described them as “more birdy.” Also you’re conspicuously absent from the story of my first birthday (Hawaii), first steps (same day as birthday, in Hawaii), and the time that ASIO robbed our family home to steal photos of me (I was two weeks old, and you not born).

Did you ever wish that you had been an only child this is a very sad question I feel sick.
I have entertained the thought ‘what would it be like’, in the same way that I have wondered ‘what if I was dead’, or ‘imagine if we hadn’t done the one million things we’ve done that stop us from being presidents of Australia’ but have never wished it.

Tell me, how did the world begin?
That’s a secret I will only reveal in our show The Eternity Of The World (Parts Missing).

Thank you. Tell me, how did the world end?
Without incident or demonstration of any kind. Having refused the intervention of a priest, a last post to facebook, or even a final signing of an online petition, and having declared you had no revelations, or selfies to make – at first pale and trembling – you soon demonstrated an affected cynicism and exasperation, and in what can only be described as ‘a voice’ sang a few really Five Star Must See Highly Revoltingly obscene lyrics – an ironically failing to pronounce the word anarchy – then as all was put in place you gave out a last cry of “Long Live the Re…”.
Whether the cry was supposed to be Long Live the Republic or Long Live the Revolution we will never – ok it was Revolution. Complete calm reigned.

Kerith Manderson-Galvin and Tobias Manderson-Galvin are performing in The Eternity Of The World (Parts Missing), part of Bondi Feast 2017.
Dates: 21 – 22 July, 2017
Venue: Bondi Pavilion

5 Questions with Sarah Meacham and Patricia Pemberton

Sarah Meacham

Patricia Pemberton: Describe Dry Land in five words.
Sarah Meacham: Courageous. Honest. Bold. Uncomfortable. Necessary.

What attracted you to the role of Ester and the play initially?
It is such a dream, as an actor, to come across a text that explores such complex, honest and dense stories of young women. It is such a juicy text in that sense. The women have agency and are so interesting respectively. Ruby creates these characters and fills them with a shipping container full of life and truth. Jeremy and Claudia have done the Sydney independent theatre scene such a blessing by putting their story on a stage. In terms of Ester herself, I just fucking love her – no words.

Ahh the teenage years. Tell me about a classic ‘teenage moment’ you’ve had that makes you laugh.
One time I got really wasted with my friend in Albury. We went to this pub, Paddy’s I think it was called, and I remember feeling really close to losing it. I went outside and sat on the curb for about an hour. Then it was time to make tracks and my friend’s cousin picked us up. Then I have this blissful memory of opening the car window and feeling the wind on my face but then coupled with spewy mcgee all over the car door (inside and out) down my dress and on the floor. I woke up the next day with dried vomit in my eyelashes.

What has been the most unexpected moment of the process so far?
Realising the full scope of potential in the elasticity of a swimming cap.

Where should we get dinner – Ruby Tuesday’s or Denny’s?
Ruby’s. Duh.

Patricia Pemberton

Sarah Meacham: What’s your favourite food? I’ve heard you hate protein bars.
Patricia Pemberton: Hands down Nutella. If I could bathe in Nutella I would. Introduce me to a Nutella protein bar that doesn’t taste like a protein bar and you’ll have my attention.

As an actor, what is the greatest part of the rehearsal process?
Actually it’s the point of delirium at the end of a full day’s or week’s rehearsal. That’s either where the best epiphanies happen or you are all in stitches of laughter, both are equally great!

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done on stage?
Once I was in an interpretive dance where I was the sperm that won the race and was dressed in a form fitting white ensemble flailing about on stage? Not sure if that’s counts though, because I just think that’s funny.

Ruby Rae Spiegel discusses a lot of confrontational components that can come to play among puberty for young women, what do you think has distinguished this piece of writing from others in regards to the way she presents the voices of women today?
When I first read the script, I remember closing it and staring at the ceiling for a few minutes- processing and relating with my own experiences. The voices of these young women are universal in their high school setting, their coded lingo and journey of trying to find their place. I think what separates Ruby’s work from other works is that it is relentless in how emotive and cruel not only puberty but life can be. Nothing is off limits. It’s very ‘in yer face’, but who doesn’t love a bit of that?

We’re part of a pretty crazy independent theatre ‘power couple’ with Mad March Hare and Outhouse Theatre coming together. What are you most excited about in staging Dry Land?
Mad March x Outhouse is definitely the Beyonce & Jay Z of indie couplings. I’m so incredibly grateful to be working with the creatives that I am, that’s the most exciting part for me. That they saw something in me that they wanted to collaborate with and vice versa.

Sarah Meacham and Patricia Pemberton are appearing in Dry Land, by Ruby Rae Spiegel.
Dates: 28 July – 19 August, 2017
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Blake Erickson and Nicholas Starte

Blake Erickson

Nicholas Starte: The process of stepping into the role of such an iconic member of Australia’s history must be confronting. Has that affected your process compared to previous characters you’ve played?
Blake Erickson: I’ve played historical figures before and I find the process easier than creating a character from scratch, to be honest. Their life history is laid out before you, first-hand accounts of who they are and how they responded to events exist so you have a kind of blueprint for a character before you even begin. That said, this isn’t a historical re-enactment. This is a dramatic story based on real events. Cook is a colossal figure in British history, but in Australia and elsewhere his legacy is often linked with the tragedy of European invasion and imperialism. Between those extremes existed a human being and that’s what I’m interested in.

Why do you think this relatively unknown part of Cook’s history is important to Australian audiences today?
Absolutely. Australia has a lot of soul searching to do, the process of reconciling our history is ongoing. Cook didn’t discover Australia, New Zealand, the islands of the South Pacific or anywhere else inhabited by people. He was the point of first contact between the British and indigenous peoples across the world. What’s significant about Between Worlds is it allows this first-contact story to be heard from the side of indigenous Hawaiians. I think it’s really important that Australians don’t think of British explorers as “us” and indigenous people as “them”. I hope this show makes Australians pause and consider the side of history they’ve perhaps automatically aligned themselves with.

As an actor, what is your favourite part of developing new works?
It’s pretty darn cool when you’re the first person to perform new material, or better yet have material written especially for you. But more than that you get to help own the production in a way that you can’t when you receive the final script and get directed and choreographed into it. It’s the difference between wearing something tailor made and buying something off the rack.

Having been involved in a number of workshops of this piece, how has it developed from your first experience, to now?
I’ve worked on the development of many, many, many new Australian musicals. This is probably my tenth workshop of a new musical, this is my third on Between Worlds alone and I knew from the very beginning that Between Worlds was special. The marriage of musical styles between European music theatre and traditional Polynesian harmonies was utterly captivating from the get-go. The show is also a study in the frailty of people, and how a relentless desire to secure a legacy can prove lethal. I’m thrilled that with each workshop it just has gone from strength to strength and I’m so excited for people to see the show. Something I do not say about every show. Ahem.

How can you relate to this portrayal of Cook?
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Pacific region. I’ve travelled through French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Fiji, Hawaii, Wallis et Futuna, and spent a bit of time in Papua New Guinea as a kid. It’s a part of the world that is extremely close to my heart. Cook loved the Pacific, he literally idolised Polynesian culture in a way no European had ever done before. He’s also a man who feels that he has unfinished business, and I think any actor if they’re honest would tell you that no matter what you may have done it’s all about what’s coming up over the horizon. I’m just fortunate that what lies ahead is this beautiful show. Now, Nic, some questions for you…

Nicholas Starte

Blake Erickson: In a workshop how much influence does a performer have over the development of a new show?
Nicholas Starte: I think, like it or not, just having a work spoken out loud by actors for the first time brings out a whole new dimension. Fortunately for us, Nick, Gareth and Jason have given us a rare opportunity; a workshop space that feels extremely safe, where ideas are encouraged. I love this way of working and I think actors can be an author’s greatest resource, because it’s a chance to hear their characters fought for individually and not just looked at as a whole.

What’s been your favourite part of the process of workshopping a new Australian work like Between Worlds?
I love discussion. And anyone who has been in one of these workshops with me will know, this is easily my favourite part of the process. Talking about themes, coming up with ideas, problem solving, it’s just the best! I just have to reign in my excitement from time to time.

What do you see as the relevance of a musical about the death of captain cook to contemporary Australian audiences?
It really comes from the fact that this is not just a story about Captain Cook, at least, not the Cook we know from primary school. This story is about cultural conflict, seeing other cultures through the gaze of our own and the need for empathy, something that, frankly, is lacking today. We may be more exposed to other cultures and ways of life than ever before, but if anything, we’ve grown more ignorant of them. This play is a chance to see both sides of the story and also hear the part of Cook’s story we never heard as kids.

Just how difficult is the Hawaiian language component of the role?
Look, I’m not gonna lie, it’s a struggle, not just because it’s a foreign language, but it’s a dialect that has very little material for reference. While the language is still alive, the way it is spoken and the way many Hawaiians speak English has become very diluted. We’ve been taking accent inspiration from Polynesian and Maori accents and used the rules of the language itself to dictate the way we speak, but mate… those single syllable diphthongs are doing my head in!

How familiar were you with the historical events that form the basis for our play?
I was in the position I think most Australian audiences will be on first seeing this show. No bloody idea mate.

Blake Erickson and Nicholas Starte are appearing in the rehearsed workshop performances of Between Worlds the musical.
Dates: 15 – 16 July, 2017
Venue: ATYP

5 Questions with Ellana Costa and Michaela Savina

Ellana Costa

Michaela Savina: Who do you believe is the most effective ancient Greek villain?
Ellana Costa: My favourite villains are the Sirens from the story of Jason And The Argonauts. I love that their power can be felt from a distance. I love the idea that these women play into the stereotype of the beautiful, mysterious woman that all men want, only so they can lure these men to their deaths. I also love the image of Jason, so desperate to see and hear the Siren song, that he ties himself to his ship. Talk about a glutton for punishment.

How do you find it performing your own writing?
I think every writer should be forced to perform that own writing at least once. It changes the way you see the writing process. I’ve always enjoyed working in a collaborative way and I’ve noticed a lot of changes I’ve decided to make from the script, to my character particularly, have come out of a realisation that the way I think doesn’t always translate well to the page. The exciting thing, however, about performing a character I’ve created, is that I really feel like I know Lampito. I feel like I understand her and why she is making the choices she’s making.

What’s your favourite thing about Lampito?
I think Lampito is incredibly strong, but I think what I love most about her is the way she shows her strength. She lives in a society where she is often looked down on because she is a women, but when she sees something she thinks is wrong, she say something. Even though she knows it will result in pain for her. She has a real moral backbone that I think is beautiful.

How would you define strength?
I define strength as resilience. To be strong doesn’t mean never falling, or never being upset, or never feeling like you can’t do it. For me, strength is feeling those things, acknowledging them, and then taking the steps you can to get back up. You can’t be strong without vulnerability, and when you are vulnerable you’re able to show your strength.

Who do you call to serve on your utopian action squad?
Well, it would be a combination of fictional and real world bad ass ladies. Let’s start with the obvious one: Wonder Woman. She is a n Amazonian goddess and will obviously be leading our party. I would then request Beyonce for soundtrack, general inspiration and fierce moves. I would also ask Black Widow from Avengers (for DC/Marvel mashup) and then I think I’d end with Geena Davis. That woman is an Olympian archer and super hilarious. Couldn’t image a better crew.

Michaela Savina

Ellana Costa: If you could be any one (or anything) from an ancient Greek myth, who would you be and why?
Michaela Savina: I think I would have to go for Circe because she’s got all of this badass magical power. Also in Odyssey she turned all the men in to pigs which is a move I really endorse.

Who is your feminist role model and why?
It’s like picking a favourite child this question, I think I’m going to go with Joan Didion as basically half my actions in life are just trying to make myself more like her.

What is the most interesting element of Lysistrata’s story for you?
In our adaption I think we’ve really drawn out the idea of sacrifice and what exactly that looks and feels like on a human level. I think understanding that sometimes the same sacrifice can land very differently for people is quite interesting.

What is your favourite thing about playing Lysistrata?
I really love playing her personality quirks, even though she has all this expertise and intelligence her emotional intelligence and social skills are quite lacking and that’s always fun to play. She really does mean well but she just slightly misses the mark.

Dead or alive, who is present at Lysistrata’s symposium on 21st century politics?
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Arundati Roy, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Georgia O’Keefe and Patti Smith, I’m kind of thinking about the post symposium drinks, my god that’d be some fascinating conversation.

Ellana Costa and Michaela Savina can be seen in Before Lysistrata by Ellana Costa.
Dates: 10 – 22 July, 2017
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Tom Christophersen and James Dalton

Tom Christophersen

James Dalton: What are the three most common mistakes people make when their house is haunted?
Tom Christophersen: I’m really glad you asked this. This is important stuff. When people encounter paranormal activity they usually do one of the following three, very dumb, things…

1) Deny everything, or worse, blame the strange chewing noises in the attic on the family cat. It’s never the cat. If paranormal reality television is anything to go by, ignoring creepy stuff is just going to bring about your quick and violent demise as the spirits/demons/energy in your house raise the stakes in order to prove its presence to you.

2) Burn the ouija board. Never burn the effin’ ouija board. It’s a portal. Spirits cannot return to the dimension they have been summoned from if you trash the portal. Think demonic ‘Sliders’. Put the board somewhere safe and priest-up. Get the heck blessed out of it and then have it removed and stored far, far away from your mortal soul.

3) Refuse to move. If your walls are bleeding ectoplasm, your children are possessed and your family pets are under spiritual attack, it’s probably best to leave. Immediately. Don’t even pack. Moving house can be financially demanding – but your life is more important than your credit history.

I’m about to die, how can I become a ghost?
Make sure you are really, really sad. Or better yet, furious as hell. It seems that people who die experiencing an extreme negative emotion are more like to imprint their energy onto a place/building/object. Similarly, murder victims often appear as ghosts, echoing clues or messages about their demise to the living. If you have unfinished business on earth, you’re likely to stick around.

You say your dad encountered spirits when you were a child. What lasting effect has this had on you?
At the time I thought it was completely normal. My parents divorced when I was about ten. I have distinct memories of Dad coming over to rental properties we (my mum, my sister and I) were thinking of putting in offers for to ‘check them out’ for ‘anything suss’ – ghosts. It was only when I was a teenager that I started to ask more questions about my dad’s experiences. For the record my father is the very picture of Agnostic-straight-white-Australian-masculinity which added to the mystery of these stories and encounters which became almost unspoken family lore as I grew up in Adelaide. It set up an idea in my head that the fantastic and the domestic could cohabit the same place.

What is queer about ghosts?
The American-based ‘Spiritual Science Research Foundation’ claims that 85% of gay men are possessed by female spirits (reverse that for lesbians). I’m not too sure that math checks out for me personally but it’s a pretty insane answer, right? Honestly though, I think there are ideas of otherness and outsiders that can be related to thinking around queer culture and ghosts. Both these things have been relegated to exist in the specific peripheries in our culture and so hold a certain taboo power. I guess both have the ability to scare people. They are both explainable but not with the scientific tools available to us at the present time. They both make complete sense in my mind.

Who would be a GILF?
So I’m going to assume that they are going to appear in their prime, right? If yes, then James Dean (total queen), River Phoenix… and Elvis because god dammit those eyes.

James Dalton

Tom Christophersen: Why is telling ghost stories in the theatre important?
James Dalton: Theatre is a ghost story. Our stages are haunted and we all huddle together in the dark like toffs at a Victorian séance, waiting to clap the dead away for the night.

Your work is often surreal. Why is surrealism important to you and how does Business Unfinished carry this notion of the fantastic?
Naturalism and realism say “this is how the world ought to be”, but surrealism croaks “this is how the world is”. Talk to children, talk to people up late and anxious, talk to someone in shock, talk to someone manic with joy: they all do, feel and see things that are bent from the norm. It’s unhealthy and worse to hide and deny such things, only telling people how there is a limited way we ought to be.

Business Unfinished is surreal in that you have brought these powerful images from the fringes of your waking life, introduced them to experiences from the fringes of other people’s lives, and share them in a mode that is both endearing and horrifying.

What five items would you insist be included in your personal ghost busting kit?
Audio recorder. Night-vision camera. My great-grandmother’s rosaries. Salt. Thriller on cassette.

What is your favourite scene from a foreign horror film and why?
The final video footage sequence at the end of J-horror classic Noroi: The Curse. It features people standing still in a way that feels wrong, and this is by far the most terrifying thing anyone can ever see.

Where do we go after we die?
We become the song that everyone remembers us dancing to.

James Dalton directs Business Unfinished, written and performed by Tom Christophersen. The show is a part of Bondi Feast 2017.
Dates: 27 – 29 July, 2017
Venue: Bondi Pavilion

5 Questions with Emma Louise and Andy Simpson

Emma Louise

Andy Simpson: Violence is an important part of Mauritius. It colours our characters’ motivations and experiences. Have you ever found yourself in an unexpectedly violent situation?
Emma Louise: Wow, what a question to start with!  Yes, I guess I have been witness to various violent situations.  One which immediately springs to mind was when a person I was just getting to know had just walked a friend of his down the road from my place in Darlinghurst at the time to get a cab or something.  The next thing I know I hear these awful loud guttural sounds coming from that same direction down the street. I run out to my balcony to see what’s going on, and coming up the road I see both my new friend and another huge shirtless guy circling each other, weaving in and out between parked cars and making these noises I can only describe as animalistic. It certainly wasn’t English! Both already had blood staining their faces and arms, so I knew punches had already been thrown. It honestly looked like they were going to kill each other, despite being complete strangers who had never crossed paths before. I (oh so heroically) ran into my flatmate’s room screaming for his help, and he then saves the day… going outside, placing himself in the middle of these two burly men intent on destroying each other, and calmly talking the shirtless stranger down while firmly instructing my new acquaintance to get into the house. All while I stood watching on in horror on the balcony.  Ah the random, weird, unexpected violent things that can happen at 3.30am on a Friday night in Darlo!  Happy to report that I never saw the big shirtless guy again, and am also no longer in the company of the other violent acquaintance. The lovely hero flatmate however, (another actor incidentally, who uses words instead of fists) will always be in my life.  That’s definitely the kind of company I prefer to keep!

Serena Williams was pregnant while competing at The Australian Open this year. Is it a challenge to act when you are pregnant?
Ha! A little I guess, especially as you grow bigger with each passing month – making it a harder thing to physically disguise. I will be 7 months along when this show is up, so am extra aware of my physicality… having to watch that I’m not standing like a pregnant lady, or letting the tell tale waddle slip in anywhere. Even the way you get up and down from a chair can be tricky at times. So much to monitor! But basically I’m just aiming to keep myself as rested as possible when not rehearsing/performing, as well as stretching and seeing a physio to help keep everything as limber as possible. A woman being pregnant is not a disability after all… we can do pretty much most things we would usually do – perhaps just being a bit more mindful, that’s all.

Mauritius is an intense play. Full of emotion and pain. Do you prefer this sort of work or are you a comedy gal?
Ooooh, I really like both! I’ve been super lucky I think to have had the opportunity to work across many genres. I learnt back at drama school that I had the ability to effectively tap into painful emotions – helping me dig into roles like Madame de Tourvel  (Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Paulina (The Winter’s Tale) or Olive (Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll).  But I’ve also discovered through training and practise that I have a bit of a knack for making people laugh as well – enjoying roles like Edith (The Women), Daria (We’ll Always Have Wagga) or Mum (Vernon God Little). I would hate to have to pick just one or the other to do for the rest of my life, and here’s hoping I never have to!

Have you acted in other cities around Australia, or even overseas? How does the Sydney theatre scene compare?
I actually started out acting in Canberra – back before I went to Uni, and we used to joke that the only way anyone from Canberra would get to set foot on the Canberra Theatre stage was to leave Canberra and be employed by an interstate company. There really wasn’t much around at that time, however from what I’ve read now it seems that the Canberra Theatre scene has grown somewhat, and even has an acting school of it’s own which is great. I then went to study in QLD, so have performed in both Toowoomba and Brisbane, though it has been years since being there so I can’t really give it an accurate comparison to the Sydney scene I’m afraid. Other cities I’ve performed in include Melbourne and Adelaide – which is so great to perform in at Festival time. There is such a buzz and sense of artist camaraderie at the Adelaide Fringe which I wish could bottle and bring to Sydney to have all year round!  

What do you prefer, rehearsal or performance?
Ooooh, that’s another hard one. Ultimately performance if I had to pick one, as by then I’ve done all of the work and can enjoy just giving myself over to the character each night and watching how their story affects different audiences. But playing with other actors in a rehearsal room is pure joy also! I love meeting new actors whom I’ve not worked with. I love hearing words off the page for the first time. I love making ridiculous mistakes throughout the rehearsal process all in the pursuit of truth and telling a good story.  I love being so frustrated that a scene is not working, and having a breakthrough moment where it all becomes clear. God I probably sound like a bit of a wanker, but I really do love what we do!

Andy Simpson

Emma Louise: What is Mauritius all about, and why did this play appeal to you?
At a basic level Mauritius is about stamps. Extraordinarily valuable stamps. Although saying that is a bit like saying Indiana Jones is about archaeology or Animal Farm is about farm animals. The play is about five desperate people who will go to extreme lengths to get what they want. They steal, lie, fight and intimidate, all for “two tiny slips of paper”. Mauritius has wonderful characters and pacy, muscular dialogue. I love American drama like this. It is evocative of the plays of David Mamet and Martin Scorcese’s New York movies. Truly exciting work.

Are you, or have you ever been a stamp collector? Or avid collector of anything for that matter?
I collected stamps as a child although I had completely forgotten about it until I was cast in the play. It was almost like a suppressed memory that popped back into my head. I’ve since found that my parents still have my collection in their home, safe and sound and exactly as I left it. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with it when I next visit them next year.

If you were writing a personal ad for your character (Philip), how would it read?
Companion wanted for lost man. Must love embarrassing silences and glib comebacks. Passion for retrospection and bitter recrimination a definite plus but not a deal breaker if you’re willing to put out. A willingness to excuse long, unexplained absences and poor timekeeping would be appreciated. 

How did you get this role?
Sure Foot put on auditions. There was a small problem with getting me the audition material but two hours is enough notice I reckon. Two hours to get my twins dressed, my daughter and son to Saturday morning sport (different sports of course) grab a coffee (vital), drive to Newtown, find parking, find the theatre, read the three scenes, shake hands and smile. I auditioned. I was the least bad option. Typical audition really.

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not busy playing with us in a rehearsal room?
Softball. Playing softball. Practising playing softball. Talking about softball. And coffee.

Catch Emma Louise and Andy Simpson in Mauritius, by Theresa Rebeck.
Dates: 12 – 29 July, 2017
Venue: New Theatre

5 Questions with Melissa Hume and Gideon Payten-Griffiths

Melissa Hume

Gideon Payten-Griffiths: What does the ancient story of Bluebeard make you think about?
Melissa Hume: It makes me think of deception, of a beast with a glistening smile, murder, a marriage mistake, a room full of blood and bones. All of the fun, juicy stuff. It also makes me think and question the concept of doubt. The nameless young woman becomes doubtful that Bluebeard was to blame for the multiple disappearances of his past wives. The doubt is enough for her to agree to marry him. What causes her doubt of his guilt? Is it his wealth, pressure from her family, or his kind, seemingly generous manner?

How does performing in a men’s change room and toilet make you feel and affect your devising process?
Performing in a men’s change room and toilets makes me feel like a theatre rebel! I’m really excited about it because there are so many interesting aspects and items to play with (toilets, taps, showers!) that you don’t usually have in a normal theatre. I’ve performed in site-specific works before and it’s always been an amazing experience. Often the preconceived ideas to how an audience should act are lifted, so it makes it all so immediate and exciting. It affects the devising process because the seating arrangement, architecture, layout and acoustics of the change room/toilets is really different from our rehearsal spaces. So these things need to be kept in mind when we devise and we also need to keep it somewhat flexible and adaptable.

Why are you an artist/performer/actor?
The idea of dying is frightening and the idea of living is also frightening. Somewhere amongst all of that is meaning, and I’m trying to find out what that meaning is through the lens of stories. There’s also nothing that makes me feel quite alive as when I’m working on and performing in a show.

5 desert island necessities?
Toothbrush. Floss. Tampons (such a luxury item). An avocado tree. Bear Grylls.

If you were not an artist/performer/actor, what would you be doing?
I’d be on a desert island with Bear Grylls.

Gideon Payten-Griffiths

Melissa Hume: Bluebeard; Or, The Marriage Mistakes Of A Nameless Bride will be performed in the men’s toilets and change rooms at Bondi Pavilion. Tell me more about this and your experience with non-traditional venues?
Gideon Payten-Griffiths: Unusual contexts and audience relationships has become a big part of my practice. The unexpected can simply thrill the audience or keep them active. It can transform the viewer’s everyday experience of that space or the normally relatable; with this you might talk about what lurks underneath, reveal the unseen. Site specificity can exploit a fusion between art and ‘real life’, offering a beauty and/or an unsettling quality which can provoke or open up the audience. Suspending the everyday creates joy. A men’s change room and loo makes me think of social conventions, competition and intimacy which could reveal (darker) aspects of the (male) psyche. For women entering the space there layers of permission, trust and disgust heightening questions of gender and the roles we play, romance and the mystery of the other. This amplification of the binary has me thinking about seen and unseen sides to the same story. Responding to the physical aspects of this space is also inspiring; the hardness, greyness, moisture, seclusion, compartments, obscured vision, neon lighting. In playing clarinet and other sound in the space, the reverberation, the source of sound and the ambient sounds of Bondi have great potential.

How do you think the audience will be able to relate to this adaptation of the fairytale Bluebeard?
I think we are exploring Bluebeard in terms of what it says about emotional needs, desire, intimacy, fear, trust, aspiration, reputation, gender expectations; all sorts of things we all experience that are in there alongside the far out, suspense, horror and eroticism of a good serial killer tale. Or is it? There is no script, we are re-making this story from scratch and still creating; it will be a contemporary view. It may have some abstraction which might further allow the audience to relate in their own ways. I think we want to resist the simple moral conclusions of a fairytale; that a young woman should be less curious or that Bluebeard is pure evil. It’s a story of courtship and life-altering choices. Meanwhile, we’ve been asking what drives people to extremes, what makes a ‘bad’ person and what is the source cause of horrifying acts; where is the killer in all of us? By the way, its not just a fairytale! These stories of violence happen, today, just around the corner…

Can you tell me your story of how you came to be a performer?
I became a performer when I realised I always was a performer. Having made, sung, danced and acted since an early age it was in my bones. Yes Mel, that meaning and life/death thing can be terrifying. Maybe something about this self-awareness and sensitivity is part of what got me to this profession, or vice versa. After school I went listlessly, and at times pathologically, in other directions. Then, in 2005 I did a training program at PACT centre for emerging artists and remembered I didn’t have to pursue one discipline but could explore the fusion of different practices. I could simply be and artist (person). I realised that being an artist was the only thing I could do – there is a special kind of joy and transcendence it brings. After we’ve taken care of the basics, it’s what we do. When we haven’t or can’t take care of the basics, it’s what we do. I think art in life used to be less about the audience vs. performer and more about a community spirituality. I’m still coming to being a performer. There’s the ongoing research into knowing and harnessing the self, my embodied energy and how to move and project it (in the endless entropy of existence). I love making and performing as an act of empathy, compassion and connection. To question, reflect, break down and see anew. To speak truth to power. To be the jester. I guess it is the sense of purpose to the work that is the real story. Let alone the fun in the play of it!

If your life was to be written as a fairytale, what would the first sentence be?
There was once a fool who lived at the top of an empty hill in a warm little invisible house and dreamed of being a real person. (I reserve the right to change the fairytale at anytime).

Do you have any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
Urinating. Hugging my colleagues (you know like energetic, inter-corporeal ensemble building, we are one, we are many, listening with my feet, seeing you with my elbow!)

Melissa Hume and Gideon Payten-Griffiths are performing in Bluebeard; Or, The Marriage Mistakes Of A Nameless Bride, part of Bondi Feast 2017.
Dates: 25 – 29 July, 2017
Venue: Bondi Pavilion