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In Conversation with Rupert Bevan

This week we welcome to Theatre Works the cast and crew from 'AWAY' by Michael Gow. We borrowed performer Rupert Bevan from rehearsals for a quick chat about their reflections on the play and what was involved in preparing for the roles of Tom and Rick. 'AWAY' is the third 'BY THEATRE WORKS' production for 2023, following the hugely successful and critically acclaimed seasons of 'PEAR-SHAPED' by Miranda MIddleton and Ziggy Resnick and 'MOTH' by Declan Greene.

Q: What drew you to this play and do you remember your initial response to the text? A: Having the opportunity to play the roles of Tom and Rick in this wonderfully written and beautiful Australian classic is a dream come true. Great writing elevates the work we do as actors and this play by Michael Gow is a prime example of this. As soon as I started reading the script for the first time I got a sense of who these two people were just from the way they were both written, their use of language, their vocal patterns and images. I rely on the script a lot. It’s a sacred document for me. The way that I trained as an actor, particularly for theatre work, is to mine the script for everything. Everything an actor needs is often in the text. Good playwrights leave you clues in their writing, either consciously or unconsciously, as to who this character is and that helps lay a roadmap for how you can begin to play this person.

Q: What are some questions you had about the play and the roles of Tom and Rick?

A: Before rehearsals began I looked at each scene and bookmarked whatever things, places or events I did not know about and that I needed to research. It is important to know about the world you are inhabiting. In our case, 1967/68. What was it like to live in that time? Importantly, what was the music like? Then it is all about taking that practical information and fusing it with my imagination in order to create the world of the characters. How they see things. How they interact with others. I have to ask myself, who is this person? What do you want? What do they hate? What happened in their childhood? What is their favorite colour? What scares them? What are their dreams? Their secrets? (Secrets are always a good thing to have for characters). This exploration, led by the imagination, is an endless well to mine, and it continues even once I am doing the show. The imagination never has to stop. I want to create a three-dimensional human being, one that is complicated and full of life. Q: What is something that excites you about playing Tom or Rick? The wonderful thing about this play is because it is so beautifully written the humanity and mess of the characters is there to play. I don’t have to create that. Gow gives it to the actor through the circumstances he puts his characters in. For example, in the first scene with Meg, Tom is a bit awkward, nervous to give her the Christmas present. It is a sweet scene. The audience probably likes Tom as a person. Then, in Act 4, Scene 2 Tom pressures Meg into having sex with him. He is utterly broken, confused, and he hurts Meg. To play all different sides of someone’s personality is great. Who wants to play a character that is the same all the time? No thank you. Some audience members might not like Tom at the end of the play. Maybe their perception of him changed from how it started. That is a good thing. He is human.

Q: What has been one of the rehearsal highlights so far?

The most important thing in creating a piece of theatre is collaboration. I cannot hold onto what I do at home before coming into rehearsals. I must leave my homework behind and be ready to listen to my fellow actors, design team and director. It is the creative conversation between us all and working together to put on this show for you, our wonderful audience, that is the whole point of why we do what we do. Putting on a show for an audience is what inspires me. There are many productions of ‘Away’, this is by far a very special one. I have loved creating this heightened production that is full of beautiful theatricality. I have loved playing Tom and Rick - but especially the ‘second camper’, what a joy to play some angry 80 year old man with metal tongs! Sometimes it gets stressful putting on a show. There never seems to be enough time. However, with patience and teamwork the show goes on. It has to. AWAY by Michael Gow

8-22 July | Theatre Works

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