5 Questions with Elouise Eftos and Deborah Faye Lee

Elouise Eftos

Deborah Faye Lee: Joseph K is arrested for an unspecified crime. If you were Joseph K, what would that crime be?
Elouise Eftos: Oh god there’s so many things I could be arrested for… playing music too loudly, being too loud in general, being too extra (not sure why that’s a crime though to be honest, if anything that should be rewarded). Probably my worst offence is laughing at my own jokes though… that’s pretty bad.

You’re a stand up comedian, in addition to being an actor. How has your knack for comedy helped when working on this show?
Honestly being a comedian actually makes you super critical of what is and isn’t funny and for me personally it’s made me look at every little bit of a joke or gag so intricately (maybe sometimes too much) that it’s been really helpful with a lot of elements within my performance. From the timing, the set ups, just even the inflection in my voice, and how that can change everything in a scene. I think being a stand up comedian in the acting world really helps you when you’ve got an audience watching, I’m excited and a little nervous to see what jokes or moments do land (and especially what doesn’t land at all). Doing stand up makes you realise that your favourite jokes might not work every night or a moment you didn’t think was funny at all might get an unexpected laugh. I think that makes you extremely resilient and quick on your feet, which is so important in the realm of acting. Live theatre is so exhilarating because anything can happen and I think stand up comedy is the same in that sense, if something goes wrong the best actors and comedians can make it seem like it was all planned and part of the show, which isn’t easy to do but definitely easier with time.

What’s your current obsession… please don’t say it’s dolls?!
Oh god, no doll obsession here I promise. I don’t know if this is that current because I’ve had this obsession for quite a while, but I am obsessed with Disco: the music, the dancing, the fashion. I can’t getenough! I would pay a lot of money to go back in time and attend Studio 54. Also if anyone is having a disco themed party anytime soon I’ve got a gold glomesh dress ready to wear so please invite me… please.

Who are some of the actor/comedians you look up to?
I have so many favourite actors & comedians that I could take up more than half of Suzy’s blog, so I’ll try and keep it short. One actor that is finally on my radar is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I was very late to the party and just finished watching Fleabag and it is so fantastic. Would love to work with her one day or be her one day, she literally does it all, creating, writing and starring in her own projects and is so unapologetically funny. Also Natasha Leggero, Chelsea Peretti & Amy Schumer are three very unapologetic women who actually changed my view of stand up comedy completely and I think they all inspired me to write/finally get up and do my first 5 minute set.

What makes this production of Joseph K worth watching?
Apart from the fact that the script is so well written and such a great modern adaption of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, our cast is also such a talented and hilarious bunch of people that it would be a shame for anyone to miss us all play a myriad of wild and colourful characters (with multiple different UK accents). It’s a very funny show but with very dark moments that reflect our current issues (state control being my favourite), so you’ll laugh, cry and maybe get extremely freaked out, but I promise it’s worth it!

Deborah Faye Lee

Elouise Eftos: You play a very strong female role in the play, what similarities did you find you had with your character Wendy?
Deborah Faye Lee: Part of Wendy’s strength is that she is unafraid to stand up and speak out, not just for herself but for others in her community. We do share certain similarities in that sense. She is also unrelenting in her pursuit of what she wants, even if the odds are against her.

If you could play any of the other playful characters in the cast, who would you choose and why?
It’s a tough one but I think it’ll come down to Joseph K, Ian Huld or Rose. Joseph K, because it’ll be such an adventure having to juggle all the other characters for the entire show whilst going through the ups and downs in his journey, which are a lot… that would be such a challenge! Ian Huld and Rose have such iconic lines which always puts a smile on my face. That would be so much fun.

Do you have any pre show rituals I should know about before opening night?
I like to have clear headspace before I go on. So after getting my makeup done, I usually pack my dressing table and make sure it’s neat and clear. I tend to not listen to any music and also try not to look at my phone from about the half hour call.

Your character gets to travel to NYC for business, where would you like to be flown over to for work?
That’ll be such a luxury! It’s a hard one between Portugal and Spain. But I’d love to be flown to Barcelona in spring. You would get lots of daylight so that gives you more time to explore the rich culture, architecture and savour that glorious food. It’s every foodie’s dream!

Now I assume you’ve never been arrested but if you were, what would your crime be?
Ha! A group of schoolmates and I were previously rounded up by the police for trespassing. We snuck into a compound and were playing one of those haunted houses type of thing. People were concerned after hearing lots of screaming coming from where we were. There was a bit of chase from the police too, so that was quite an experience! But to answer your question, I’m known to have a weird fascination with potatoes so my crime would probably be something related to that. FYI apparently it’s an offence to be in possession of more than 50kg of potatoes in WA!

Elouise Eftos and Deborah Faye Lee can be seen in Joseph K, by Tom Basden.
Dates: 1 – 18 May, 2019
Venue: Limelight on Oxford

5 Questions with James Elazzi and Aanisa Vylet

James Elazzi

Aanisa Vylet: What story does Lady Tabouli share with its audience, and who is Lady Tabouli?
James Elazzi: Lady Tabouli is a story about what it means to come to terms with the past, how the past can mould who we are as adults and how every single person we meet plays a part in our journey, right up to today. Lady Tabouli is freedom, within all the characters in my play. It is the protagonist but is also all the people that are related to him. It is a knock on effect. Lady Tabouli is a celebration, it is hope, it is healing the pain of yesterday to finally reaching a state of liberation. To live in our truth, or try our best to live life like that.

What inspired you to create this story?
My inspiration for Lady Tabouli is derived from the people around me. It’s inspired by people that I love and it is my love letter to them. It’s inspired by those trailblazers that did not accept what was expected of them. It’s about standing up for our right to be happy. But with happiness and freedom, there is a price to pay. Are you willing to pay this price? I’m inspired by those who do not live their lives in other people’s shadows. Brave, strong people that have been broken, but have healed and learned from their mistakes.

When did you realize that you were a writer?
I’ve been a writer ever since I knew how to write. I’ve only recently had the courage to share my stories with the world, I hope to allow change through storytelling. I want to represent my community and where I come from in a clearer light. To write about the complexities that exist within my community,

As an artist of colour living in Western Sydney, what would you like to see more of in our greater artistic community?
Different perspectives, different storytelling, migrant stories, stories about women that have broken the mould and persevered. I want to see all types of Australians on the stage.

What is the best advice that you have been given?
Every single rule can be broken. Never fear to have a voice and a to need to be heard. That change is never ending and our journey never ceases until we cease to breathe.

Aanisa Vylet

James Elazzi: Tell me a little about your new play Sauvage.
Aanisa Vylet: Sauvage is a myth that I have created about the patriarchy. The seed for this play began in 2015. I was living in Barcelona and I asked myself… who am I as a storyteller… beyond my religious background, my culture and my socialization? That question led me to create a myth. In doing so, I have found a sense of freedom that I could only imagine, not only as a storyteller, but as a woman. The play has been a joy to create. We look forward to sharing this joy and the many layers of this wild myth with you.

What inspires you to write?
The deep sense to fulfill a “need”.

What would you like to see more of on Australian stages?
More scratch performances and safe, supported spaces for artists to experiment.
A richer landscape of theatrical forms.
More Australian feminist theatre and practitioners.
More focus on the “spirit” of the work.
More Australian plays that do more than to sate our audience’s wants… I want more plays that know how to tap into what we need.
(I could say much more but, I will keep my answer short…)

What type of writers inspire you?
Ones that admit to having their own kind of genius and their own kind of foolery.

Things that you believe are essential in the world of writing.
The right to process. We demand our right to process, a process which allows us and our work to evolve.
Artist dates / processes of silliness and play.
A healthy personal life.
Coffee.

James Elazzi and Aanisa Vylet present new work at Batch Festival, by Griffin Theatre Co.
Dates: 25 Apr – 11 May, 2019
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre

5 Questions with Deng Deng and Alice Keohavong

Deng Deng

Alice Keohavong: So, who is Deng?
Deng Deng: I am a Sudanese born actor and writer who came to Australia in 2002 along with my family. I’m the eldest of seven children. I graduated from Trinity Catholic College in 2011 and also from the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television.

What drew you to Blood On The Cat’s Neck?
I was drawn by the storyline more than anything else. I do love the idea of an alien who is here to learn from humanity and exploring what makes us who we are, whether it be good or bad. Plus I also love anything sci-fi.

What has been a highlight of your acting career?
To this day the biggest highlight of my career is performing at the Sydney Opera House. Even though it wasn’t on the main centre stage, being able to perform there has been by far the best and most amazing part of my acting career. I remember coming down the steps of the Opera House and having the biggest smile on my face, ever since nothing has come close to this feeling.

What has been an influential piece of advice you’ve received?
Make your own work. I know that waiting around can be annoying at times – I think especially in this industry – but making my own work (whether it be short films or writing) has kept me busy and I never have nothing to do. It helps me stay motivated in my everyday life or last least as active as I can be, so I believe that’s the best advice that I have been given.

What would you like to tell/warn/promote to people about Montague Basement?
If you have an opportunity to work with them, do it. I’m not saying this because I’m doing this play now, it’s because of who they are as people. They care about this industry. I love the amount of work and time they put into their work, and caring. I know that these are people I can see myself working with again.

Alice Keohavong

Deng Deng: What drew you to this industry?
Alice Keohavong: As a child, I had (still do) an overactive imagination. I was constantly entertaining myself with made-up stories. In high school, when I found myself surrounded by a community of people who loved telling stories and weren’t afraid to be silly, fun and human, I was hooked. I’ve also always been fascinated by people and trying to understand why we do the things we do… I was either going to be an actor or a psychologist…

What is your favourite production so far and why?
A stand out for me has a lot to do with nostalgic reasons. I was in high school and saw The Pillowman at Belvoir. Growing up, I didn’t have many opportunities to experience theatre and whenever I did, it was always an event and forced upon us by school. This show was an extra curricular activity our drama teacher proposed and one of the first I went to outside of school hours, surrounded friends who were also keen to experience it. This is one of many reasons why I’m so grateful for the wonderful teacher we had. The show had me spellbound… and here I am.

Which are you more drawn towards theatre or screen?
Both for different reasons. I love the thrill of immediacy with theatre. I love that the medium is so transient and I enjoy the sense of community you build through the rehearsal process. With screen work, I love the naked intimacy you can get. You feel quite bare and vulnerable in a very different way.

What’s the most enjoyable part of any rehearsals process?
The first dress run. After all the weeks of hard work, you and your new family are thrown together with all the other elements of the show, and you get to see what the hell it is you’ve actually made. It is frightening and adrenalin-pumping and I love it.

Tell me something about Alice that people don’t know about?
I hate watermelon. I mean, I HATE the stuff. Why. Why would you eat that? Watermelon smelling bubble bath? Sure. Watermelon earrings? Cute. Just please don’t put that thing into my mouth.

Deng Deng and Alice Keohavong can be seen in Blood On The Cat’s Neck, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Dates: 22 May – 1 June, 2019
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Tara Clark and Asalemo Tofete

Tara Clark


Asalemo Tofete: What are the pleasures and challenges you’ve found in performing this new work?
Tara Clark: The pleasures and the challenges have been one in the same. It’s a pretty huge cast of twelve, and I’ve never worked with any of the other actors before. That’s been a real treat. At the same time, it’s a cast of twelve and I think we’ve only all been in the same room on one or two occasions!

The play is about the power of stories, in the political sphere and in our personal lives. What stories do you fill your head with?
Pure filth, Asa. Nothing I could repeat in polite company. In seriousness though, I’m trying to read more novels this year and fewer plays. I recently finished We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It’s absolutely harrowing. Notwithstanding, it’s an incredible read. I’ve seen the film and the novel still managed to surprise me. Highly recommended.  

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage and why?
Question all my life choices until that moment, swallow my self-loathing and throw a few air punches. 

If you had the chance to play any role in any show, what would it be and why?
Asa! What are you doing to me? How long have we got?  My dream is to play Sylv in Berkoff’s East… because… because… Sylv’s speech of longing. Enough said. 

Lastly, this show is a dark comedy, other than yourself and me, who in the cast is the funniest person in real life?
Well, it’s certainly not me. I never get to the play the funny girl. Largely because most often girls aren’t written to be funny, but let me step down off my soap box to answer your question… Everyone is great to have a laugh with… but I would have to say that Will Bartolo is one who I laugh at the most. He’s laughs on legs. No pressure Will. 

Asalemo Tofete

Tara Clark: In a classic example of art imitating life, you play an actor known as The Player. How has The Player’s career trajectory differed from yours? Are there any similarities? 
Asalemo Tofete: There are similar circumstances that The Player and I share like trying to convince others that he’s good. Also the love of performing in front of crowds and the swapping of troupes depending on the situation. So very similar.  We both are pretty passionate about what we do, performing, sharing stories, sharing experiences. I think the only difference would be that in the end… well people will just have to come and see what happens to The Player in the end.

Did you always want to be an actor? If acting wasn’t an option, what would you be instead? 
I started off at university, training to become a teacher. A friend of mine suggested the Theatre course and, well, the rest is history. I guess if I hadn’t had the curiosity to try the theatre course I would have become an educator shaping the minds of our future geniuses (or that’s what I like to think I’d be doing).

Appropriation picks up where Hamlet leaves off. If you could write the sequel (or prequel) to any great story (play, novel or film) what would it be and how would it play out?
Ooooohhhhh! That’s a good one. If I were to stick to a Shakespeare play, I would probably like to write the sequel to Much Ado About Nothing… following Don John’s escape. Where DJ would gather an army and return to march on Messina where he would in the end be killed by the waiting woman Margaret who then marries the night watchman Verges and because everyone is dead becomes the Queen of Messina – of course, with a whole lot of twists and turns along the way.

What has been the highlight of working on Appropriation for you?
Working with this very talented cast. Everyone has their own particular skills set that they bring with them. Especially leading the music, as the #fakemusicguy, this cast has blown my mind, with what they’ve come up with. Also being a part of this new work gives me the chance to be the first to speak these words, the first person to bring The Player to life. That in itself is pretty exciting.

Please translate the following sentence into Shakespearean English: “Check out Appropriation, playing at Studio Blueprint from April 17th to 27th.
The year of our Lord two thousand nineteen,
The Fledgling troupe presents a tale for you,
A tale that fish would sooner fly than swim,
Appropriation is the name forsooth,
It playeth at the play house of Blueprint,
From seventeen to twenty seventh moon,
Of April it shall play. Come one come all.
Checketh us out, before we checketh out!

Tara Clark and Asalemo Tofete can be seen in Appropriation, by Paul Gilchrist.
Dates: 12 – 24 Apr, 2019
Venue: Studio Blueprint

5 Questions with Justin Amankwah and Stella Ye

Justin Amankwah

Stella Ye: Justin you are one busy and hard-working human. How is your soul going and what do you do to stay grounded?
Justin Amankwah: My soul is swell! I’m no good at sitting still so I prefer to always have something to do. In terms of staying grounded, all credit is due to my calendar.

What would be your game plan during a demon apocalypse?
Run to the nearest Church & repent. Then grab a rosary & some holy water. If all else fails, I’ll channel my juju and kick some demon ass.

Seeing Edgar evolve during rehearsals has been NUTS. What’s it been like working with puppetry? What has is taught you about yourself as a performer?
It’s quite profound working with a character both inside and outside of my physical self. I’m still wrapping my head around it to be honest. I initially thought I’d just have to get the mechanics of puppeteering correct, but I’ve come to find that the real challenge is to bring myself into him and work towards him moving like I would If I were a talking teddy bear. It’s taught me that I rely very heavily on my body in performance. But mainly that I like to get the work right straight away. & I noticed this while enduring the very slow burn of bringing the puppet to life.

If Edgar had two theme songs, what would they be and why?
‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’ by Tomoyasu Hotei because it’s a powerful track with grit. & the instrumental for ‘Simon Says’ by Pharoahe Monch because it’s an awesome blend of demonic & straight up gangster, just like Edgar.

What does the show mean to you and why should people come and see it?
This show for me is a great opportunity to entertain through means I’ve never got to before, to play this boisterous & melodramatic character unabashedly is a total joy. I think people should come because it’ll be such a good time at the theatre & my hope is that audiences will be wildly amused by our ridiculous show.

Stella Ye

Justin Amankwah: What were your thoughts when you first read Alice In Slasherland?
Stella Ye: My mind kind of went like this: “!!!!!!!!!!!!” because I found it so wonderful and fun to read. I felt like Qui Nguyen threw all of the ingredients from the fridge into the pan and somehow made the best omelette ever. I loved that it played into all of these familiar American teenage and horror tropes, yet allowed room to see and experience beyond them as well. So yes, shoutout to Qui for creating such a hilarious, vibrant and heightened world.

What are your favourite things about being a part of this show (besides kicking ass)?
Getting to explore crazy ideas. Being with an amazing group of humans also exploring crazy ideas. Using my voice and body in ways that I never have before. Blood capsules.

You face some heavily racist comments as Alice in the show, how do you deal with that, and has it become less challenging as we’ve progressed?
That was definitely a scene that Rachel [Kerry, director] and I talked about after the first read and had to ask exactly how it served the story. High school can be a tough place and I think we’ve all come across a Tommy at some point in our lives. Moving forward with it has been about honouring what’s going on for Alice in that moment, and she’s still demonic and freshly adjusting to life out of hell (cue internal monologue: humans are weird) so I’m learning to sit inside her brain and trust in how she chooses to handle that interaction.

In a world where the action is commonly reserved for men, what are you feeling about portraying a powerful female protagonist battling an even more powerful female antagonist?
Life has taught me that women are incredible and powerful and badass, so it’s been fantastic being able to reflect that on stage through Alice. I love that she gets to be so physically engaged in everything that she does, and those fight scenes are so, so fun to perform. Laura and I especially have a lot of fight moments together in the show, and working with her during rehearsals has really made me appreciate her strength and bravery, as a woman but as a human being really.

Justin Amankwah and Stella Ye can be seen in Alice In Slasherland.
Dates: 18 Apr – 11 May, 2019
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre

5 Questions with Stephanie Somerville and Megan Wilding

Stephanie Somerville

Megan Wilding: What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
Stephanie Somerville: Probably something Rick Brayford, the head of the Aboriginal acting course, at WAAPA told me before I went for my call back for the acting course. I was super, super nervous and he said to me “It’s your land, now go act those little white girls off the stage.” I find myself saying that to myself a lot; it grounds me, gives me confidence and makes me laugh.

Do you have a mantra you say to yourself before you go on stage?
“It’s your land, now go act those little white girls off the stage.”

What has been the most exciting thing about bringing A Little Piece Of Ash to life?
I’ve never gotten to work with a writer/director on a play before. It feels like such an enormous privilege to help a friend and someone who I admire so deeply tell her story.

Do you have a good warm-up song that you blast before a show?
I usually have a little playlist for each show I do, and I’ve got a few already for A Little Piece Of Ash. It’s a lot of country music, but ‘G.U.Y’ by Lady Gaga is always a great one to get the blood pumping.

Why should people come and see A Little Piece Of Ash?
It’s a deeply touching and hilarious play about the absurdity of life, death and how we deal with it. It’s written by an incredible new talent. It’s powerful, it’s truthful, it’s Aboriginal and it’s completely unapologetic.

Megan Wilding

Stephanie Somerville: What first made you want to start writing?
Megan Wilding: Ever since I was a little anxiety-riddled kid, I found it hard to express what I was feeling. I discovered at quiet a young age that I could explore things that that were going on around me that I didn’t really understand through writing and making stories. As I grew older and became more aware of the theatre industry, it was just a natural progression that my writing turned into plays and performance poetry. It’s nice to give my feelings to characters and let them explore the extreme. Writing A Little Piece Of Ash certainly helped me understand my feelings towards loss and love a lot more.

Why did you feel it was important for you to also direct A Little Piece Of Ash?
Can I say I’m a bit of a control freak? A Little Piece Of Ash is my first little trauma baby, and I wasn’t ready to give her away just yet; I wanted to see her take her first steps and start to walk. Also, I’ve wanted to pursue directing for a while and this presented itself as a really great opportunity to jump in. Hopefully from here some more opportunities will come along.

What’s one thing you wish people talked about more?
Everything. Treaty, trauma, and truth. But more importantly I wished more people listened when someone spoke. It’s scary how much talking is done to blocked ears.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
That there’s no one way to grieve; that you can and should reach out if you need to; that love can be expressed across time and space.

How do you unwind after a long day of writer/actor/directoring…?
I’ve watched every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race at least 5 times. Honestly, that show with all feathers and fierceness helps me switch off every time. Or a nice, hot, eucalyptus bath.

Stephanie Somerville and Megan Wilding are collaborating on A Little Piece Of Ash.
Dates: 12 – 27 Apr, 2019
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre

5 Questions with Zach Selmes and Caitlin Williams

Zach Selmes

Caitlin Williams: We might as well start out with the most obvious question – what’s your kink?
Zach Selmes: Such a Vanda question! Would it be such an actor thing of me to say “role-playing”?

You play two characters in this, the playwright Thomas and his character Kushemski. What drew you to these roles?
The greatest thing about acting is being given the opportunity to explore such a variety of characters, of lifestyles you’ll never lead, and play within that world for a while – a gentleman in the Austro-Hungarian empire, for example. I love this industry and if a show is meta, I’m interested! As an aspiring director, Thomas is an excellent example of the traps a creative with privilege can fall into if they aren’t thoughtful of their subject matter or choose to regard their colleagues as little more than puppets to do their bidding. He’s a great case-study on how NOT to negotiate with your actors.

You come from a musical theatre background, how does it feel working on straight theatre?
Two people alone onstage for ninety minutes is definitely a jump in the deep end. After majoring in musical theatre at uni, I played a lot of comedy roles in what were largely ensemble shows. More recently, I was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night but played the fool and musician in both and always had a joke or instrument to charm the audience onto my side. ‘Venus in Fur’ is the first show I’ve done without a single song and, while Thomas gets in some dry zingers, he is far from comic relief. It’s a refreshing learning experience to be playing the antagonistic straight man.

What do you think this play has to say about the complexity of power in relationships?
It certainly subverts the idea that power comes down to physical dominance. Indeed, while it explores the erotic side of power, the play is far more driven by the psychological nature of Thomas and Vanda’s relationship. From the moment Vanda storms the stage, Thomas has to fight to maintain his directorial power and as soon as you think you have a handle on the power struggle within his play, it becomes apparent that any power Vanda has is a result of Kushemski’s manipulation of her… until she manipulates Thomas right back and the lines between the plays blur! It’s a constant tug of war and the longer it goes on, the more gloriously frustrated everyone becomes.

With the #MeToo movement all over the media, how do you feel this play is relevant to the current moment, particularly surrounding the treatment of actors?
I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of some overwhelmingly conscientious casts, but I’ve only fairly recently been delving into plays. While I could only reference media reports with regard to straight theatre, I can say first hand that being a young man on the musical theatre side of the fence means a lot of unsolicited attention – typically from male creatives or networking figures – in situations where it is difficult for a performer to refuse the advances for fear of losing current or future work. As we see with #MeToo, it’s an industry-wide problem because of the unique ways our work environment relies on trust. Every show that I’ve worked on has had a co-ed dressing room (often closer in size to a closet) where you have to trust that your colleagues are being respectful of your privacy. Onstage, you become more intimate with people in ways you normally wouldn’t and have to trust that their focus is on what’s best for the scene and show, and not something more sinister. The industry and its workers are vulnerable to that trust being taken advantage of or broken which is why it’s incredibly important to be constantly aware of your other actors and their wellbeing. Having support systems in place like cast reps and being a part of your actor’s union (MEAA) gives power back to the majority of the industry who just want to be able to work and create safely.

Caitlin Williams

Zach Selmes: You’ve been involved in a lot of shows recently, what’s special about Venus In Fur?
Caitlin Williams: What’s special to me about Venus In Fur, is that it lets me play a role I rarely get to play — the young, sexy, confident, take-no-prisoners Vanda. I can’t tell you how many times in the last two years I’ve played an older role or a male character rewritten as a woman, so it’s nice to finally get back to playing someone age appropriate who’s so much fun.

As an emerging female creative working both onstage and behind the scenes, how relevant do you find this play to the theatre scene in Sydney?
I think what this play shows is that the audition room is such a fascinating, terrifying thing, where the power imbalance is profound and can, as we’ve seen in the international and Sydney theatre scene, be easily exploited. What Thomas expects out of Vanda is a level of perfection that’s impossible for any woman to reach, and I think that standard of perfection is still subconsciously expected of emerging female artists.

Performing a two-person text isn’t easy, especially when that text involves a play within a play. Is there a craft to bouncing back and forth between character mid-scene? Mid-sentence even?
For these roles I’ve been finding lot of the character changes come from my voice and accents. Vanda Jordan has your typical American accent, while Vanda Von Dunayev has this much more regal, old-school transatlantic accent. I’ve found that once I’ve gotten the accent switches down then I can bring in that characterisation and physicality that comes along with each change.

Were you always a theatre kid, or was there a specific moment that converted you?
I think it was a high school production of A Midsummer Nights Dream, where I went in determined to play Helena. I’d never spoken a word of Shakespeare out loud before but I went in, auditioned, and got the part. Being part of a cast, getting to explore a character and have fun on stage in a safe environment, really kicked off a love of theatre in me.

As your character Vanda so eloquently describes Venus In Fur “basically it’s S&M Porn”. What would you say to any hesitant theatre-goers who worry the show might lack depth?
This is a play that’s fun, sexy, and hilarious. But it also tackles issues that the entertainment industry has really had to come to terms with in the form of #MeToo. This play is about female empowerment and the complexities of power in relationships.

Zach Selmes and Caitlin Williams can be seen in Venus In Fur by David Ives.
Dates: 10 – 13 Apr, 2019
Venue: 107, Redfern