So, I like to start of with a few warm up questions first if that's okay.....
What’s your favourite colour?
You know, I’m quite undecided on this one. I’ve gone through life leaning on the side of shades of blue... but I think this is just because it suits me. So I guess that suggests to me that my favourite colour is something that simply fans my ‘vanity flame’… I don’t think I like that.
What do you usually have for breakfast?
Er. Nothing. Instead I waste far too much money on lunch because by that time I’m so hungry that my stomach’s turned in on itself... Coffee tends to start my day. It’s made of beans. Beans are a food and therefore a healthy regular meal, yes?
Jean – an oldy but a goody.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Obligation and guilt. Time waits for no (wo)man.
Now lets get down to business!....
So how did you meet your fellow company members?
Amie, Sian, Amanda and I are all students at the University of Auckland. Sian, Amie and I are in the same drama classes and we’ve all worked together on different shows in the last couple of years. We met; fell in love with one another’s personalities and that was that.
What made the four of you decide to put together a women’s theatre company?
It basically comes down to our selfish need to be on stage, and controlling what we want to be in… but not entirely. Initially I think it came from this but when we delved deeper into it, we realised that the reason we felt the need to put on shows was because there was so little available to us. I don’t suspect this has anything to do with our acting ability but everything to do with the complete lack there was at the time we started this project. We wanted to expand the roles in which we were consistently cast and to challenge our skills. We were completely overwhelmed with the support which has propelled us into taking this theatre company gig fairly seriously.
Have you had any negative feedback from males in the industry about the ‘all woman’ part of your company?
Not at all! Our first show, Agnes of God, was directed by Luke Thornborough (a man!!!!). Luke directed Amie, Amanda and I in The Crucible last year and he’s been incredibly supportive in our efforts, a real driving force. Interestingly we got a bit of flack for having a man direct our first show but it was important for us, from the outset to show people that we’re not a WOMAN ONLY club. If we make up the majority of the sex that’s in the industry, surely we should have some say in what is being put on. What better way to tell a man than to show him?
As an actor myself, I am all too familiar with the lack of meaty roles for women. Why do you think there is such a limited number of quality female roles in theatre?
You know, I don’t think that there are specifically limited quality roles, they’re there. It’s just that these shows aren’t being put on. This is my theory: women like seeing men act, they like the idea that these men are in touch with their emotional side. Men like seeing men because it’s easier than watching women talk about periods and pregnancy- which to be fair is AAAALLLL we ever talk about... right? Male centric theatre consistently sells. But I say phooey to that. There are so many women in this industry that we need some jolly support, like a good bra, and we need to start putting on these fabulous shows that tell a good decent story about the life of a woman. I presume we’ve all got female friends that still might be interested in watching a show about pregnancy and periods. It can be educational if nothing else.
I personally would love to see some comedy for women. I know some very funny women and I like to act comedically. I want to see some good, clever female comedy that’s not all crass and offensive but has some genuinely smart wit. I think women are hilarious, we’ve got funny bodies with weird things attached and we experience some crazy ass shiz and I think we should be celebrating just how whack our lives are.
So you are currently working on your next production - Revenge of the Amazons by Jean Betts. That is a great play. How is it going?
So far so awesome! I’m co-directing this behemoth of a project with Marisa Breytenbach who is an Drama Honours graduate from Auckland Uni and we’ve only just had auditions last weekend. We’re extremely excited about our cast. We saw a lot of fabulous acting and were genuinely frightened at the decision making process, but in the end I think we’ve got some very good raw talent. In the meantime, it’s planning. Fortunately our Producer, Natalie Braid, was born organised. I wholeheartedly believe she came from her mother’s womb, gripping tightly a notebook, ready to take minutes from the word “waaaa”. Our first read through with the cast is this week too and oh, they’re in for a treat with this script. It’s going to be a fun time.
I understand that as well as making quality theatre roles available for women, you are also raising donations of either money or resources to support female charities. Can you tell us a bit about that?
We decided this year that each show we produce from now on would also be a perfect opportunity to raise money, goods, or at least awareness of important women’s issue relative to the play. For Revenge we’re using bras as an integral part of our set so afterwards the bras will be donated to Auckland City Mission who are very happy for the boost (yes, that is a joke). We are accepting donations of good quality new or used bras. People can email email@example.com to arrange drop off or pick up if they have a stash of bras that don’t, ah, flatter figures anymore, or aren't the right colour blue for their skin tone… any reason they want to give them away is reason enough for us to take them as long as they’re in good nick. This is a part of our projects that we’re really looking forward to being able to offer. If you can’t act, switch on a lighting board, or even if you can’t make it to the show, you can still help a girl out and be involved.
When and where can we see your production of Revenge of the Amazons?
VITAL STATS TIME:
WHEN: Wednesday 14 August to Sunday 18 August 2013, 7.30pm
WHERE: Ponsonby Baptist Church, Jervois Road.
HOW MUCH: $20 adult, $15 student (who are often a special kind of adult).
TICKETS GO ON SALE: May 6th at www.iticket.co.nz
What’s next for Female Company?
You know what, I don’t know. Following the no doubt overwhelming success of Revenge I think we’ll all be catching our breath as Amie, Sian, Amanda and I nut out a plan for next year. We want to get to the point where women are bringing us their plays and we can premier some exciting new works. We’re interested in celebrating new stories so we’d love to have people submitting their plays. To women out there wanting a voice heard, we could team up and be that voice.
Thanks for chatting to us Haemia and all the best for the show!