Mockingbird Theatre has certainly made its mark in the Melbourne theatre scene since launching in 2012. The quality of the productions they put on as well as passion you can see they have for what they do is truly inspiring. I was lucky enough to see their stunning production of Equus last year which starred TV and stage legend Jeremy Kewley, which was quite an impressive snatch for quite a young company. This year Mockingbird launched their 2014 season with Jon Maran’s The Temperamentals, described as “Mad Men meets Milk.”
Tells us a bit about The Temperamentals and how your character fits into the story?
The Temperamentals is a play about the founding fathers of the Mattachine Society – a gay activist group formed during the 1950s in Los Angeles. During this period, society was highly conservative and homosexuals were regarded as being predators, perverse and mentally ill. Any slight suspicion that someone was homosexual could have result in them being arrested and subsequently, attaining a criminal record. It was a highly dangerous time for anyone to admit their homosexuality, let alone live their true authentic lives as gay people.
I play Harry Hay who was a member of the Communist Party and was the principal instigator of this political movement. He was a driven man who fought to attain equal rights for gay people, whom he deemed a sexual minority. He has a wonderful transition throughout the course of the play as he not only fights to attain equal rights for all homosexual people, but also how he embraces his own sexuality. Harry can be described as a bull in a china shop – brash, loud and hell bent on his cause. He was, I think, ahead of his time.
What made you want to be a part of this particular project?
As a member of the Mockingbird acting ensemble, I relish any opportunity to be on the Mockingbird stage. I am really excited about being involved in a play that has as its base, a strong political message and one that pays homage to those people who fought for equal rights in a difficult time. Although there is still much to achieve in attaining equality, these pioneers really did pave the way for many of the freedoms that gay people are afforded today. I am also excited to be part of a play that is included in Midsumma. On a personal note, I am playing a character that is challenging in the sense that it is not really like any other part I have played – it is nice to be cast against type.
How would you like the audience to feel when walking away from the theatre at the end of the night?
I want the audience to leave the theatre having been educated about the journey gay activism has taken. Many believe that Stonewall was the birth of the gay rights movement but this play shows us that there were an even braver bunch of people to stood up to the plate, in a much more oppressive and intolerant time. We still have a long way to go in achieving equal rights for all but this story shows us the origins of the movement. We really need to get an accurate sense of where we have come from to know where we are going.
I also want older gay people who may have lived through this period, to feel that their story and experience has been honoured and I want younger gay people, to have an appreciation for the hard road older generations have had to endure so that they can live as they do. I want the audience to feel moved, motivated, confronted and ultimately, enlightened.
You’re also a Musical Theatre performer having done some amazing work, from Cabaret, Assassins and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Do you have to place yourself into a different mind frame when jumping from musicals to straight plays as an actor?
In terms of preparing for a musical, the main extra focus I work on is the singing and depending on the role, the dancing. If it has been a while since I have done a musical, I sometimes need to brush up on thee skills. Preparing for a role is however, the same. As an actor, whether musical or not, you are charged with the responsibility to tell a character’s story in an honest and truthful way – without judgement. My mind frame and approach is usually the same.
You are one of the Mockingbird Theatre company members. How did you get involved in this company and what makes Mockingbird different from any other theatre company around Melbourne?
In September 2013, I was lucky enough to play Molina (the role of a lifetime) in Mockingbird’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman. I was then asked to join the acting ensemble on the back of this performance. Something I am extremely proud of. I am truly honoured to be included amongst such a talent group of actors. And of course, there is the talented Chris Baldock – someone who has always given me great challenges as an actor and great opportunities to explore wonderfully complex characters. He is the cornerstone of this amazing company, which has a genuine commitment to authentic storytelling.
Mockingbird gives audiences that chance to see well known plays that have usually been performed on Broadway or in the West End, that would not necessarily be performed by some of Melbourne’s more mainstream theatre companies. It is a company that is growing very quickly and it is exciting to be a part of its second year.
For more information on Mockingbird Theatre, check out their website.
- Opening Night: Friday 17 January 2014 at 8pm
- Saturday 18 January at 8pm
- Sunday 19 January at 5pm
- Tuesday 21 January – Saturday 25 January at 8pm
- Sunday 26 January at 5pm
- Tuesday 28 January – Saturday 1 February at 8pm
Brunswick Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre,
Cnr Glenlyon and Sydney Roads, Brunswick, VIC 3056
$37.50 Full / $32.50 Concession, Groups of 10 or more and Midsumma Members
(+ Booking Fee)
$27.50 all tix – Tuesday 21 and 28 January at 8pm