ell us a bit about yourself. What was it that made you want to be an actor?
I acted as a teenager, in a couple of kids’ TV series. Around about the same time, I got involved with the independent theatre scene. I got into professional theatre in my early twenties.
Theatre and acting gratifies my desire to communicate, and to discover something shared between people. I love that—in rehearsals as much as on stage—participation in something immediate and collective.
Were you familiar with Sarah Kane’s work before joining this production? Why does Blastedfeel like an important story to tell now?
I had read Blasted as part of a uni subject. I had also seen a production of 4:48 Psychosis in Edinburgh. I’ve worked with two director—Falk Richter and Benedict Andrews—who referenced Kane a lot. So I always thought of her as an important figure.
Kane has something essential to say. She diagnosed the violence and corruption of patriarchal capitalism and the smug dishonesty of the West. But she also knew that there was more to existence than that. The structural correspondences, shown in Blasted, between domestic rape and war under patriarchy feels persistently relevant to this day and age. But even pre-literary texts make these correspondences—the exploitation of woman by man and its link to war is in the Illiad. The difference is the orientation in thought: Homer blames Helen for the war. Kane offers a new perspective.
How did you get inside your character for Blasted?
With Cate, Kane wrote a character I understand completely. Cate has made choices, and thought about things. She has ethics, and upholds them. She wants to laugh and have fun, and get excited and be in new places. But Cate has misunderstood the man that she is spending time with. That experience is not foreign to me or to many women. Date rape is common. Men seducing women with alcohol, lavish things and their own sob stories is common. Heaps of people are Cate. I am Cate.
The way Cate ends up in the play reflects the general condition of women under patriarchy. Cate is a survivor—she gets by in a world designed for men. Cate ends up isolated, as many women do. But she continues to care for her abuser. She compromises some ideals but she never capitulates to nihilism. This is what redeems the play from cynicism, and offers its ending hope.
What has it been like working with director Anne-Louise Sarks? How have you found the process in the rehearsal room as an actor?
Anne-Louise is a gifted director of actors. The honesty and precison that she demands—and evokes—is necessary to a play like Blasted. Anne-Louise works to build detail by being very observant—observant of what each performer is giving instinctually, or what they may be missing, or what they may be wanting to give. From there she patiently encourages further discovery, or a new direction, using an unambiguous manner of address that I find generous and respectful. It’s never confusing to work with Anne-Louise. And you never feel that you will get away with anything less than good work. That’s pretty rare.
In theatre today, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by my generation’s engagement with the capacities of theatre as theatre—as a singular form, so different from other mediums—and their demands that we use it to to forge new avenues for thought in today’s Australia.
I have always respected the fact that theatre has the capacity to situate itself directly in the ciritcial consciousness of the time. Because it does this by insisting on collectivity and shared experience, theatre is a political form, in the best sense of the word ‘political’—when it works, theatre summons an assembled mass of people to recognize the possibility for a wholesale reconfiguration of the status quo.
Don't miss Eloise Mignon in Blasted, playing 24 Aug – 16 Sep.