Acting has become a increasingly important component of my various fruity creative projects, so I was probably overdue to be part of something where I could deliberately work on my acting skills in isolation. That said, If Aspen Island Theatre Company head honcho Julian Hobba hadn’t approached me directly and asked me to read for a supporting role in his new play The Slip Lane then there’s no telling when I might have pulled my finger out.
The Slip Lane is a reality-bending drama set in Gunghalin. It tracks the halting and fragile friendship between Matthew and Missy (portrayed in this initial production by Dene Kermond and Claire Moss) and the various ways in which their suburban existential angst is preyed upon by a literal demon from hell. The role of the shape-shifting demon was shared by myself and the frighteningly talented Emma Strand.
It’s a dense, bleak and fun play that picks at the Australian Middle Classes’ wonky process of self-definition and resists any easy thesis thereof. Julian (who produced the Public Theatre series at which Bomb Collar made its’ Canberra debut) sent me the script back in November and it was an offer I couldn’t pass up.
Here are a couple of revues. You’ll notice that neither single me out for gross incompetence and I’m taking that as a good sign. It was every bit as challenging and humbling as I expected to work as part of a Proper Grown-Up Theatre Production and I was given a lot of generous support by the rest of the team. Watching the rest of the cast employ their full range of Actor Skills (script analysis, vocal warm-ups, impro games etc.) drove home just how untrained my approach is. I encouraged Julian to just plain tell me what to do as much as possible, and focused mostly on remembering my lines, relaxing and trying to stand in the right spot.
I feel like I made a fair-ish fist of my role and started some kind of structured skills progression in terms of ‘acting’ rather than just ‘performing’. It’ll be an interesting challenge to keep that progression going now that I’m back to my normal juggling-half-a-dozen-projects-at-once lifestyle. I’ll admit that our month of full-time rehearsals was an intense experience for a flighty dilettante like myself. That said, it’s only ever taken the merest sniff of positive reinforcement for me to double down on creative challenges for myself, so watch this space.