September 29th, our first run through on the amazing set by Tom Bannerman, a genius who can create magic with a few twigs and a bit of string. It is quite impressive – 23 actors inside a cage. We are getting to hear several new songs composed specifically for the production by the incredibly talented Nate Edmondson.
Interview with Annette van Roden who plays the part of Jean Paul Marat.
G.C: What is your theatrical background Annette?
A.v.R: I started backstage with The Arcadians in Wollongong when I was 16 and was hooked. Since then I’ve directed, designed and built sets, costumes, hair, makeup … you name it.
I’ve done a stand up comedy course, trained at the Actors Centre, studied The Chubbuck Technique with Anthony Brandon Wong and an online course with Gregg Apps.
G.C: What was your reaction to being cast as Marat? Has it been especially difficult playing the role of a man, a historical figure, and one with a reputation of ruthless brutality?
A.v.R: I was thrilled to be cast in such a challenging role. It is rare for a women to have this opportunity and I am very grateful to the director, Barry French, for his vision. He was more interested in the energy and drive that each actor could bring to the roles.
As Marat was crucially instrumental in forming the political future of France there is a wealth of information to draw on. My research has shown various sides of Marat, his passion for the people, his violent dislike of royalty and the bourgeoisie, an inquiring intellect and a man tortured by the pain of chronic disease. To focus on the reputation of ruthless brutality alone would not give a full representation of Marat’s life and achievements and is not how he is portrayed in the play. Being given the task of representing such an important historical figure is daunting and I feel privileged to have been entrusted with this task.
G.C: You spend a substantial amount of time during the play sitting in a bathtub – that must be quite frustrating? What is the hardest aspect of playing Marat?
A.v.R: There’s so much happening onstage that i’m not aware of being in the bath for any great length of time. The most difficult aspect has been putting all the layers of the character together: a refugee who has developed paranoia and is playing the part of Marat. Staying with that for 2 and half hours takes a lot of focus. Also having the audience within arms reach is a unique experience.
G.C: What attracted you to the role?
A.v.R: Initially I was attracted by how Barry intended to treat the play. Exploring the idea of a refugee asylum, and how being incarcerated in processing centres creates mental illness.
G.C: What is your take on the character of J.P. Marat? Was he as bad as everyone makes him out to be?
A.v.R: It’s important to consider the age he lived in. I can’t imagine how oppressive it would have been to live in that era as a poor working class man or woman. He saw a system that worked only for the minority and tried to address this by speaking up for the suffering majority. He had a dogged determination to affect change, and showed considerable tenacity in staying one step ahead of his detractors. However, he was a brutal revolutionary, inciting riots and advocating murder to achieve his goals.
G.C: Thanks Annette. We look forward to seeing your performance. It sounds like it will be a provocative piece of theatre.