NAMES: Maja Liwszyc, Tristan McInnes & Peter Lane Townsend // ROLE: Performers // SHOW: Under This Sun
What was your first experience with theatre?
PETER: My first experience with theatre was seeing a touring, educational show that came to my primary school when I was about 10. I just had a ball. There was improv, puppetry, silly accents; a child’s delight. In hindsight, it makes me realise just how powerful theatre can be if it can get kids excited about following the rules! Funnily enough, I also do children’s theatre now myself.
MAJA: So, I was already doing classes from the age of tykedom in a desperate parental attempt to get all the hyperactive madness out of me. However, my first real ‘BOOM’ experience is kind of embarrassing. I was seven or eight, in London and being taken to see one of the Andrew Lloyd Webbers. ‘Cats’, to be exact. I now have all these highly conflicting feelings – adult me acknowledges it’s awful, but little eight-year-old me is still embroiled in the spectacular. Thus began the confusion and turmoil.
TRISTAN: I was in a Kindergarten production of Beauty and The Beast, I was a plate. The choreography was very difficult for me at an early age – I basically had to stand still and wave a large cardboard plate in front of myself for the entirety of ‘Be Our Guest’. Another kid in my year was cast as Lumiere. That was my also my first experience with Envy.
What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?
PETER: Seeing ‘Waiting for Godot’ at His Majesty’s was probably my favourite theatre experience, and because I have once played Estragon, it just made me appreciate it that much more. The cast were incredible and the tech elements were really something else. I’m also a real musical nut so if I could, I would add ‘Wicked’, ‘Annie’, ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Les Mis’ to the list.
TRISTAN: Punchdrunk Theatre’s ‘Sleep No More’ was an immersive theatre show I saw in New York a couple of years ago. It was the first time I found myself physically lost in a show, as well as emotionally invested as an audience member. The length to which the space involved audiences was incredible. My favourite storytelling experience in theatre would have to be ‘Only You Can Save Us’, which was an imaginative extraordinaire that came to Fringe this year. Both shows exposed a love of theatre in me, one being involved in and the other being exposed to a story to the utmost degree.
MAJA: Oh man, that’s hard! I guess I’ll go with my gut – Propeller everything. They’re this all-male (grooooan) Oxford-based company who is everything I love about great Shakespeare – fast-paced, ensemble focused, stupidly skilled, not tied down to any one time or place, not condescending to its audience. Scratch the Shakespeare – what I love about great theatre. Oh! Also, there was this INCREDIBLE ten minute dance piece I saw in a shipping container at PIAF a couple of years ago. Short, simple, clear and completely bowled me over.
What excites you about Perth? What are some must-see places you would recommend?
TRISTAN: Definitely the openness of the community, and the willingness to make performances and art available for public access. The closeness of the Fremantle communities and the Northbridge artistic circles projects a feeling of warmth and acceptance to others. I feel like Perth would be a great city to explore with an open mind, just to find those little niches.
PETER: The already small world feels a little bit smaller still in Perth; just about 2 degrees of separation. It’s cool to think that the theatre I’m seeing and the theatre that I’m working on are not far from each other; the actors I admire are the people I’m working with and people who I hope to work with in the future. Perth’s got a nice little, connected acting community and I like that.
Do you have any unusual rehearsal rituals?
PETER: My rehearsal ritual? Making sure I’m cold. I find my creative juices flow better in the cold, unlike the rest of the cast of Under This Sun who apparently seem to prefer unbearable heat when we’re running around the room! I try my best to arrive at rehearsals early so I can get that air con on and the room to a comfortable 16 degrees ASAP.
TRISTAN: I wouldn’t call facial exercises and warm-ups unusual, in most cases. It often ends up going the way of me staring into a mirror, finding a new way to creep myself out.
What song best describes you/your style and why?
MAJA: My instinct is ‘Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)’ from the musical of the same name. That’s worrying… I guess I could be described as semi-delusional with noble intentions? Is that my working style? Oh dear. Probably.
PETER: The best song to describe me would be The Wombats’ hit single, ‘Kill The Director’; and in case you’re wondering, Warwick and I get on just fine. Ha! The song is about how the lead singer’s life is a romcom, a series of hopeless romantic episodes; and in the hopes that it will all stop, he begs that someone would just ‘kill the director’. I’m not sure how many hopeless romantic episodes I’ve had, but I can certainly relate to finding film-like stories within my everyday life and that’s why I love that song.
TRISTAN: At my best, ‘Holy Touch’ by Foxy Shazam. I’d call it more of a goal than a description. When I think of the song, I think high-energy, fast paced, jumping around the room waving my hands in the air. If I can channel a sliver of that on any given night, I’ll be satisfied.
Find out more about The Emergence Co.’s Under This Sun here.
Image: Jamie Breen