The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a huge production for Black Swan – a large cast, a huge artistic endeavour, and a collaboration on an international scale. We chatted to actor Adam Booth, who you may remember from Venus in Fur, Blithe Spirit and most recently, Angels in America, to see what it’s like from his point of view and what he is looking forward to.
Adam, what is it that drew you to this production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle?
Adam: When do you get an opportunity to work in a production like this? To work on a great play, by one of the great playwrights, with an amazing creative team that includes artists from the National Theatre of China? This is 'once in a lifetime' stuff. There's mystery in this project - I'm most looking forward to learning, adapting and offering what I can. I don't know where we'll end up.
This production will feature over 60 masks and 80 costumes, so most of the actors will be wearing masks. Is this a new challenge for you?
The closest I've come to the technical challenge of performing in mask, in a sense, has been performing in 'lyric' style theatres that hold 2,000+ audience members. A good third of the audience can't actually make out your face - you're just a body with a voice! The little experimentation I've done with masks was at drama school. I remember feeling the influence each particular mask can have on physical and vocal qualities. The mask can trigger an unlikely imaginative response and lead you to the character. So hopefully the masks will unlock more doors than they close.
You met with Director Dr Wang during one of his visits to Perth. What was that like, especially considering the language barrier?
I remember being invited to meet with Dr Wang. I was told that I didn't need to prepare an audition piece, but come for a discussion - this was a first for me. On my way into the audition room, I bumped into another actor and said I was strangely more nervous than usual because I was "an OK actor, but just a rubbish person." Turns out it was probably the most pleasant audition experience I've had. Through an interpreter we talked about the play and I shared some of my experiences in the theatre, in life. Dr Wang asked questions regarding my interpretation and sense of the play and offered his own views. Communicating through the interpreter distilled the conversation, allowing more room for reflection and a thoughtful, considered response.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle is at the Heath Ledger Theatre from 30 July to 14 August 2016. Tickets on sale now through Ticketek.