Interview: Eamon Dunphy (Leopard Print Loincloth)
There’s something about a room when there’s only men inside it.
This play is kinda about firemen and Tom of Finland and Nick Riewoldt and first girlfriends and bad boyfriends and gentleness and sex and fear and yeah.
LEOPARD PRINT LOINCLOTH is an episodic jog through the prickly field of contemporary Australian masculinity.
An all-male, ruggedly talented cast of six inhabit this beer-scented new play from Melbourne playwright Jake Stewart (‘Fraternal’, ‘Boys Have Skin’, and ‘The Helendale Nude Footy Calendar’.)
Come along, sit back, bring a cute pal, and spend a little time with the boys.
To kick off, what show are you currently working on and what is your role in the production?
I am working on Leopard Print Loincloth as a cast member.
What drew you to this show and why do you think now is the right time to be bringing this story to the stage?
I believe the content matters – masculinity, sexuality and where/how/to what extent the interplay of these things effect us – is incredibly important for men to be discussing. I often find that, on the stage, the male experience is glamourized, embellished or taken as the status quo. To earnestly and with honesty portray the anxieties, tenderness, awkwardness and truths that men conflate with our sexuality is something I believe we are both ready and need to discuss.
What has the experience been like working on this show? What has been unique about this show and your process in comparison to other shows you have worked on?
The experience has been fantastically rewarding. During the development process we were coming in every day to investigate elements of gender that directly affect us and our relationships; having a stake in this exploration, I found a new revelation or experience in every day. Working in a room of all men, about issues specific to who we are, was a brand new experience to me in what a development/rehearsal space could be, and I believe an entirely unique process for me so far.
What can audiences look forward to in this show or why do you feel it is a story that they need to hear?
I think they can look forward to seeing a huge degree of vulnerability in both story and character. The show frequently directs us as actors into places we might normally baulk at. Finding a way to exist when the content matter is sex, nudity and love puts us as actors into a place we don’t frequently get to inhabit on stage.
What has been the most rewarding part of this show to create for you?
Maybe not part of the show, but one of the most rewarding developments has been how, as a team, we’ve developed an unspoken rule for how to approach the rehearsal space – What’s permissible, what’s not, how do we warm up, enter into character, how to step out. That I find to be very beautiful.
Why is this a production that a 2020 audience cannot miss?
It’s something we’re not yet discussing. Which means we better start.
When first beginning a new project, what is the first part of your process in approaching a new role?
Read the script.
What is a common misconception that people have about your role in the production?
That is requires a lot of in depth research and painstaking character work. I’m a big fan of just get up and do it.
What has the rehearsal process been like in bringing this story to life? By the time audiences see this show on stage, what has gone into making it happen?
As an actor, to bring this show to the stage has involved two blocks – A development process for the show in 2019, and a month long rehearsal period this year. For every scene we put on stage, a huge amount of work has gone into our performances and staging. But the real lions share of the work to bring this story to the stage has come from our director/writing team, who have been producing this show in parts for over a year.
Do you have any opening night rituals? If so, what are they?
Three cigarettes and a kombucha.
What is something that you take away from each show that you work on? Do you feel like you take a piece of the production with you each time?
Generally I like to physically take one prop or set piece home with me as a memento. Personally, I feel like an indefinable bond is created between the people you work with when performing, and this is something I value immensely at the end of every production.
When was the turning point for you when you realised that theatre was not just a hobby but a passion?
My turning point came from realizing theatre and performance became what I was excited about doing with my day. Feels like a simple realization, but there was a long process of rejecting this as something unsustainable as a career or life’s work.
How did you go about making it your career and is there any one show that you can attribute this to?
I’m currently in my 3rd year of a BFA in Theatremaking at the VCA. There isn’t one show I can attribute this to all, or any sort of click moment, but a culmination of every piece of theatre I’ve been exposed to.
Across your work, is there one story, thought or theme that keeps you interested in continuing to create? What stories do you find yourself drawn to the most?
At this stage in my practice, I find myself lucky enough to have been exposed to a wide variety of themes and content. I feel as if I’m still in a process of nailing down exactly what my niche will be, which is quite nice. Feels more like a general passion for the stage keeps me returning rather than a specific story to tell. I’m very confident I’ll find that in time.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and what is still on your performance bucket list?
Performing in this show, without a doubt. And there’s way too many things on the bucket list to mention. No. 1 would be doing a one man production of Cats with no music or dancing.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given that you would like to pass on to aspiring theatre makers?
‘Don’t take it too seriously.’
‘Get up and do something.’
These three statements, from different people, have changed my life.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
What is your favourite production you have ever seen?
Swansong by Conor McDermottroe at Theatreworks.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world - where do you go?
What is your dream show to work on?
The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter
What is a hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
Head to the pub.
Leopard Print Loincloth opens at Theatreworks on February 4, 2020 as part of Midsumma Festival. Get your tickets here.