Interview: Felicity McKay (Twelfth Night and Romeo & Juliet)
Two of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays will come alive under the stars in Parramatta Park. Artistic Director Damien Ryan directs a tumultuous and youthful Romeo and Juliet, while Christopher Stollery directs a side-splitting take on the riotous Twelfth Night.
Don’t miss Sport for Jove’s glorious, festive Summer Season!
To kick off, what show are you currently working on and what is your role in the production?
I am currently working on Sport for Jove’s Summer Season productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ playing Sebastian and ‘Romeo & Juliet’ playing cousin Allegra.
What drew you to this show and why do you think now is the right time to be bringing this story to the stage?
Since seeing Sport for Jove’s first production of The Crucible I have wanted to work with the company. The work of the whole ensemble in that show, directed by Damo (Damien Ryan), made it feel as though I was travelling through time. I was drawn to work with the company again as I wanted to be part of theatre of that quality. I feel like Romeo and Juliet really does allow the audience to step into a 1940’s post war love story. I was really drawn to playing Sebastian in Twelfth Night because he is a brilliant character to step into the shoes. I also really respect the work of the team creating this play.
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?
My experience on both of the shows has been very different. I feel like Romeo and Juliet really pushed me to be on the ball with my work as an ensemble member. It has been extremely fun, full of life and exciting. Working with a group who are all different ages has been really special and I feel like we have really developed a wonderful sense of family. Working on Twelfth Night has been wild and wonderful. The music in this play and the sense of chaos in this world keeps you on your toes and thrusts you into the moment. There have been a lot of laughs throughout the process of both productions.
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 Romeo and Juliet is an important story for audiences to hear because I believe that as a society it is vital that we listen to younger voices and the issues they raise. Romeo and Juliet are both struggling to be heard in a society that doesn’t seem to listen or change. I think it is important we tell this story so that people are reminded how important it is to be allowed to love whoever you choose and to listen.
What has been the most rewarding part of this show to create for you?
The most rewarding part of creating Twelfth Night is the wonderful relationships that are developed with the people among the cast and crew. Also hearing the audiences laughing and having a great time is pretty rewarding.
Why is this a production that a 2020 audience cannot miss?
Because the poetry of Shakespeare’s plays are so stunning. Both productions are so unique, full of life, love, wisdom and from what I’ve heard from audiences, are both hugely entertaining!
When first beginning a new project, what is the first part of your process in approaching a new role?
Reading the script a fair few times I think. Beginning to think about the relationships with the other characters around me.
What is a common misconception that people have about your role in the production?
I’m not sure I have an answer for this one!
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?
A lot of text work, blocking, playing, laughing and revising.
Do you have any opening night rituals? If so, what are they?
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?
I feel like I take away the relationships I develop with the people I work with and the memories made. This is hands down the best part of working in theatre for me. Also, different roles can also allow you to express and get in touch with parts I might not always express and that’s a wonderful thing to experience and take away with me.
When was the turning point for you when you realised that theatre was not just a hobby but a passion? How did you go about making it your career and is there any one show that you can attribute this to?
When I did acting classes out of school and spoke to my teacher about the journey some people take in making this happen, drama school, agents etc. It was just where I felt the happiest and so I guess I wanted to keep chasing that. I auditioned for Drama school and then continued pursuing working with the people I was inspired by.
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?
I love a variety of stories and ways of telling them. I am interested in stories that continue to have diverse casts and characters and empowered female roles.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given that you would like to pass on to aspiring theatre makers?
Stop saying sorry. Trust yourself.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
What is your favourite production you have ever seen?
The Crucible, Sport for Jove.
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?
Orlando, Hamlet or Street Car.
What is a hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m co directing a short film I’ve written with my friend and co collaborator David Tran
Twelfth Night and Rome & Juliet are currently showing at Old Government House in Parramatta Park until March 1st as part of Sport for Jove's Summer Season. You can get your tickets here.