Those who were only children or not yet born during the 1980s, when AIDS was first identified, may not have a very clear understanding of what it is exactly, or its impacts on society and individuals. That is what makes STATUS such an engaging play and why I’d encourage all, especially those who perhaps don’t really understand AIDS, to visit the 20th AIDS Conference in Melbourne.
Pop Culture-y was there at the premiere of STATUS, which we reviewed here. We also had the chance to speak to director Cameron Menzies and one of the four actors, Kath Gordon.
STATUS is a very thoroughly researched, very real play. What were the challenges of performing in a play with so much real life, lived input?
Well, rising to occasion for sure. I have the utmost respect for these words from real people. They provoke very real feelings in me as an actor, and it is an honour to be telling their stories.
What kind of personal experiences do you bring to your performance in STATUS? Do your past experiences shape your performance in any way?
I have lost family and friends to HIV. So, yes. My understanding of the suffering and stigma attached to the subject is real.
What has been your previous association with the International AIDS Conference? Have you ever attended one, and did it shape your perspective of HIV/AIDS?
This is my first experience with the Conference. I know it will be an eye opening one.
What messages do you hope to get across with STATUS?
I hope to bring minds and hearts together and help dissolve the stigma associated with the disease, and bring awareness to the need of properly educating our children.
It’s about the health of our future.
You’ve had a long career in both theatre and film. How do they compare for you? Are there any stand out roles in your career?
They’re both very different mediums to play in.
I love film because the camera looks into your soul, and I love theatre because a live audience does. You have to be just as truthful for both.
I have been lucky enough to have had many stand out roles in my career to date. My all time favourite was playing Antonina Miliukova (Maestro, by Geoffrey Williams) the wife of the famous composer Tchaikovsky. She was locked away in an insane asylum in Russia in the early 1800’s to conceal her husband’s homosexuality.
Researching her life and telling her life story was a challenge and an honour.
Do you think STATUS has another life as a film, or is it uniquely made for theatre?
I have felt a number of times throughout the rehearsal process that Status has an after-life as a feature film.
There are so many brilliant stories Cameron Menzies had been able to record. It would be inspirational to be able to recount these stories, and more, for the world to see on screen!
This is a two part interview. Read the first part of the interview here.
For more information and for tickets, visit the STATUS website.