5 Questions with Brielle Flynn and Frankie

Brielle Flynn

Frankie: Why do you act?
Brielle Flynn: I ask myself all the time haha….I act because it was the first and only thing I felt alive doing and that felt right- like “yeh, this is what I want to do.” I love having the opportunity to delve into the life of a character and explore the complexity of humans. If it speaks to an audience, whether it’s personal or about an issue affecting us socially, I think theatre can really have the power to create discussion and thought. So not only do you get to play dress ups, you can cause a stir or realisation in someone else- that’s pretty cool.

Exactly how many heightened characters are you playing and… how?
Well, I’m playing 5 characters! I think the best thing for me through this process was finding a physical idea of them, and letting that affect the rest. I went with what traits I thought they might possess, the way they look at the context/people around them, and played around with vocal range. I don’t know where the Scottish ninja came from, but hey! Mainly, I just have fun within each one.

Which of your characters do you enjoy the most and why?
I actually really enjoy playing the rabbit- I think she has a very intimidating energy but at the same time is so unsure of what she is saying. She sort of talks her way through hidden insecurity. 101 gets an honourable mention too- she’s wacky and I have lots of fun playing with that role.

What does the theme of the play mean to you?
To me, it explores the blur between reality and imaginary- that as actors we try to push for realism, but puts a question on how much this can affect your mental health, and how it’s dealt with by those around you.

When you are not acting, you are… ?
Working in retail, writing, and more often than not, daydreaming.

Frankie

Brielle Flynn: Tell us about Frankie?
Frankie: I’m going to go literal here. After a series of terrible events, I needed a fresh start, and so I had my name legally changed to Frankie.

What was the process for the idea of this play?
I began to write draft one of Hypnagogism using nothing but a blank Word document and a psychology textbook. Twenty pages in, I went to a psychiatric hospital. While I was in there, they wouldn’t let me near a computer. I had to rely on messy scribblings in a journal. For me, idea formation is violent and uncontrollable. Ideas assault me- one after the other- it happens fast. The ideas replay over and over until they’ve safely landed on a page. The moment I write one down, another one pops up and they’re all connected in complex ways. I look at them, up there, in my prefrontal cortex (which at this point has stealthily extended itself way out past my forehead), and watch the threads link each idea together in a specific order, an order I must memorise. My fingers are not fast enough. My working memory hits limiter. I chunk each thought as quickly as I can. More space. More room. More ideas are coming. My shorthand gets shorter and my notes become more abstract but they’re there- they’re all there and when I look down at my notes I see my ideas once more, up there, in my invisible brain. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. By the time I was discharged from the hospital, I had a collection of memory jogs. I pieced them together like a three-dimensional puzzle, and then, manically, I typed up the rest of draft one in four days. This was in 2015. I spent a couple of years obsessively learning how to write good. Then I fixed everything up, got it down to 90 pages, and Hypnagogism became an actual, real play.

Why did you want to write it?
My original plan did not involve a play. After I was psychologically injured at drama school, I realised that what happened to me was common, and so I set out to fix the problem. It was Dr Mark Seton, co-author of the Australian Actors Wellbeing Study, who suggested that I write a play. So I did.

How does it feel seeing it come to life?
Sometimes in the rehearsal room it was like watching a memory, which is tough, because trauma symptoms. Luckily the cast, lighting designer, and my co-director have brought more to it than I ever could. Seeing the finished product, I’m bewildered. It’s something else.

Who are your inspirations?
I identify quite a bit with the guy who did Tokyo Story, Yasujiro Ozu. I kinda just do my own thing. But there’s a catch: convergent evolution of ideas. It’s impossible to be original. I seem to be a weird mix of Tom Stoppard, Samuel Beckett, and Sarah Kane (so I’ve been told). It’s also impossible not to be influenced by things you’ve been exposed to. This particular play seems to draw inspiration from Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, and old school South Park. It was more that I wrote a bunch of things, then noticed what influenced the things that I wrote. Douglas Adams probably influences my writing a great deal too. I’d say though, and this has nothing to do with writing, that Jane Goodall inspires me the most.

Brielle Fiynn is appearing in Frankie’s Hypnagogism.
Dates: 4 – 14 October, 2017
Venue: The Factory Theatre

Review: Hypnagogism (Balter Theatre Co)

Venue: The Factory Theatre (Marrickville NSW), Oct 4 – 14, 2017
Playwright: Frankie
Directors: Luke Beattie, Frankie
Cast: Kate Allison, Bretany Amber, Daniel d’Amico, Brielle Flynn, Lachlan Mcnab, Vonne Patiag, Ash Sakha, Tivy Siripanich
Image by Margaret Grove

Theatre review
Michelle goes to acting school everyday, where teachers tell her to dig deep for emotions worthy of display. Trauma is fetishised, but little care is given to the young adults who find themselves in a constant state of vulnerability, with open wounds that are left to their own often inadequate devices. Michelle suffers from a history of sexual assault and finds herself encouraged to exploit those very painful memories.

Frankie’s Hypnagogism portrays with striking persuasiveness, the neglect of mental health in some of our less proficient institutions. Although lacking in polish and maturity, the play makes salient points about how we train our actors, by drawing attention to problematic practises that are usually hidden from the public eye.

It is essentially a work of dark comedy, with a strong tendency to turn very melodramatic in its efforts to maintain emphasis on Michelle’s struggles. Directors Luke Beattie and Frankie herself, use the stage with commendable imagination, but edits could be made at more than a few junctures, to achieve a considerably crisper result. Playing Michelle is the confident Bretany Amber, one of an impressively well-rehearsed and cohesive team of young talents. Flamboyant actors Brielle Flynn and Daniel d’Amico are memorable in comedic roles, both bringing exuberance and excellent entertainment value.

The infinitely multi-faceted nature of art, allows for participation by artists of all kinds. It is easy to identify the ones who go to extremes, but more than a few level-headed individuals have found success on their own terms. In the process of art however, the extant discovery of self and environment is fundamental, meaning that limits and boundaries must always be explored. Where and when one chooses to transgress, is perhaps how art is best able to get involved, in the creation of meaning.

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