Words and Interview by Athalia Foo
Photographs: Provided by THAT Production Company, and Timothy's Instagram
Usually, when most people see a really great play, you forget about the pretty sizeable team behind the scenes who work tireless hours to direct the actors, create the set and costumes, scrutinise over the script, and ensure all the spotlights and music cues operate on time.
Artistic Director of THAT Production Company, and the director of THAT's current iteration of Lally Katz' The Eisteddfod, Timothy Wynn is one of those people. Along with his 2IC (second-in-charge) Cassandra Ramsay, Wynn's role is one that requires him to be the all seeing eyes and deciding brains behind the creation of a new piece of theatre - and boy has THAT Production Company picked a mind-blowingly good one!
Timothy lends us 5 minutes of his time in between shows to teach us some theatre lingo, tease our theatre taste buds with The Eisteddfod tid-bits, and give us director's tips for budding young actors:
Hi Timothy! First things first, if your life were a play which one would it be and why?Anything written by Philip Ridley!
Where did the idea of THAT Production Company come from? Tell us more about the company, and who's in it with you?
THAT Production Company came about from a desire to simply do plays. I wanted to direct. So I started a company and started directing. We have a large group of supporters and volunteers but my main partner in crime is Creative Producer Cassandra Ramsay.
Explain 3 theatre-only terms to us?
- ASM: ASM means Assistant Stage Manager. You can't do a show without these guys! If you ever go see a play where everyone gets killed and there is blood everywhere at the curtain call .. it is an ASM who stays back after the audience leaves with a mop and bucket to clean it all up. They are a wonderful support for the cast and stage manager, even though you may rarely ever see them.
- BUMP IN: The bump in is when you move the set and props into the theatre. Sometimes it is called a load in.
- CHOOKAS: In the early days of Aussie theatre if there was a full house the actors would say "chookas" to each other because a sold out show meant they would be able to eat chicken for dinner as they would be able to afford it. Now actors say it as a term for good luck.
Lally Katz' play ‘The Eisteddfod” is a pretty complex and layered script. What made you decide to take on this play and bring it to life?
Cass and I really wanted to do an Australia play. After reading through all the ones we owned we started researching others. We both knew of THE EISTEDDFOD. So we grabbed a copy and loved it straight away. It was strange and quirky and sad. It was also, as you say, complex and deeply layered. We both felt it was time we tackled something like this.
Is there a particular character or situation that you can really relate too in ‘The Eisteddfod”?
That is a tough one. There are moments in the show that really touch me. Most of them are sad moments. So I guess I identify with the darker elements in the play.
How do you think those unfamiliar with the text will react (without giving too much away!)?
I think it will challenge them but I also think they will enjoy it. The play is full of different devices as well that I think the audience will really enjoy.
What’s been the most challenging part of the process so far?
The hardest thing was establishing the rules of our production in the initial weeks of rehearsal. So many things happen and we needed not only to figure out why but how. What are the boundaries in the world of the play. We needed to make sure the whole team understood the logic of the world Lally had created.
I see that you have a bit of a musical theatre background, too! Be honest with us now, is musical theatre your first love?
I still do love it! I would love to direct a musical one day soon! It is a whole other beast and I can't wait to tackle it. So let us see what the future brings.
As director of the show and Artist Director of a theatre company, what advice can you give to budding young actors around this time of year (audition time)?
Well, in terms of auditions for University, I am not too sure. I never went to study theatre at Uni and I am not sure what they look for. In terms of generally audition for productions, I would suggest if you choose a monologue try and get a copy of the whole play to read, if your monologue is from a book full of monologues try and find out who wrote it. Show your passion to the audition panel. I love nothing more at an audition then when someone walks into the room and is just as passionate about theatre as I am. And most importantly, be nice. Be nice to your fellow auditionees, the panel, the assistant taking all your details. No one likes working with rude people no matter how talented you are.
And some general advice to budding young actors: Read plays. See plays. Do plays.
What is the best place for performance/creation/theatre in Brisbane?
I create theatre in Ipswich. I think the best place for creating theatre is in your own community.
If you were a digitial device/social media platform what would it be and why?
Probably Instagram. Why? I like telling stories/ giving insight through pictures.
We will announce our 2014 season in January next year. Can't say too much at the moment but, there will be a range of fully staged productions, creative developments, play readings, workshops and community projects. It will most certainly be our biggest year yet.