The cast of our upcoming production Managing Carmen is busy in Brisbane, as the Opening Night of the Queensland Theatre Company season is tonight! But Claire Lovering, who plays the psychologist Jessica, took some time out to answer a few questions for us:
Black Swan: What was it about Managing Carmen that sparked your interest?
Claire Lovering: The fact that it was the world premiere of a new David Williamson play to be directed by Wesley Enoch really peaked my interest. When I first read the script, I was most excited by the relevance of the writing and the accuracy of the contemporary archetypes each character represents.
BS: What have you been working on since The Damned, which was your most recent Black Swan production?
CL: Ive been living in Sydney where I did an internship with Version 1.0 a documentary theatre company, worked on a web series for Movie Network Channel, spent some time in the UK and most recently worked on a show at the Old Fitzroy theatre.
BS: You originally auditioned for the role of the main characters girlfriend, but were instead cast in the larger role of his psychologist. Was that surprising? How did it change your approach to the play?
CL: Yes it was a bit of a surprise! Jessica is a less heightened character than Clara and has more naturalistic dialogue. She ends up being the love interest of Brent Lyall and has a huge arc throughout the play. It changed my approach to the play in that she was a lot less comedic and often is the straight character in scenes, setting up the laughs for other characters. As such, I had to approach the role with a stronger search for truth in order for the romantic thread of the story to be convincing.
BS: How do you prepare for a role? What processes do you go through?
CL: I usually start by looking at the words and punctuation of the text, understanding the meanings and phrases my character and others use. I then write out lists of all the things my character says about themself and other characters and what other characters say about me. Once I have understood what the writer has intended I then set about fleshing out and layering the character. I write out their background, their likes and dislikes, their needs and obstacles, what they want in each scene and what they want in life. Jessica is a psychologist and acting coach so to further my research I spoke to a psychologist about the ethical boundaries of a therapist and her client. The scenes in Managing Carmen are very short and snappy and Im often going from one scene straight into another so I made a storyboard so I could visually map out the journey of my character. Then its all about letting all that work go and seeing the world through her eyes and thinking her thoughts in order to just be in the moment.
BS: What do you feel this play highlights most about society? Do you agree?
CL: The play really highlights the themes of self-expression and individuality and the judgement and critical nature of society. It is set in the world of the AFL celebrity culture and sees the media response to a scandal involving a high-level football player. Because of this there is also a strong media influence and that has been emphasised by the use of technology within the play.
This play is a truly pertinent reflection on contemporary Australian culture. The ultimate message is one of tolerance and acceptance and is one that I strongly support!
BS: Managing Carmen opens in Queensland before its two week season in Perth. Do you get the opportunity to travel much in your job? Whats the most exotic location or most interesting experience you have had so far in your career?
CL: Working on co-productions with other theatre companies is a great opportunity to live and work in other locations. I have been living in Brisbane for over a month now and between the gorgeous weather and the swimming pool it has been a wonderful experience!
Managing Carmen will be at the State Theatre Centre of WA from 10 November to 2 December. Tickets on sale now through Ticketek!