Interview: Katie Lees and Grace Rouvray (Hour of Power)
Updated: Jan 28
Katie and Grace have been best friends for 10 years. They know every single detail of every single story from each others lives. Having no new stories to share with each other they decided to write a show for you, the loyal audience. Stories of terrible housemates, secret crushes and being a bridesmaid upwards of 7 times, from day drinking epiphanies to short lived love affairs, Katie and Grace will share with you their best nick names, worst jobs and their own confessional stories in a very special Hour of Power.
Following on from their sold out season at Sydney Fringe Comedy, Hour of Power brings to Flight Path Theatre a cocktail of stand up, performance and storytelling. With a wine in hand you’ll laugh with us, laugh against us and leave feeling less alone in your own questionable life choices.
To kick off, what show are you currently working on and what is your role in the production?
Katie: We are doing a stand up comedy show called Hour of Power opening this week at the Flight Path Theatre. We wrote it and perform it together.
Grace: We play ourselves. We also produce it, stage manage it. All the things.
What drew you to this show and why do you think now is the right time to be bringing this story to the stage?
We are cheating and answering together. We have spent a lot of time at comedy shows over the past two years and have always wanted to work on something together so the show kind of naturally evolved after a series of bad dates made us realise just how special friendship is.
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?
Katie: Wine. There has been a lot of wine. But there is something really special about having a platform to tell our own stories, to be creative with your best friend means that the process is fun and safe and Grace is hilarious so I am always laughing.
Grace: Katie and I have had quite a random writing and rehearsal process. Spending a lot of our time drinking wine at Vic On The Park with our laptops laughing at each other jokes and then deleting them again the next morning. We work very well together and thrive in last minute flurry situations.
What can audiences look forward to in this show or why do you feel it is a story that they need to hear?
Katie: They can look forward to seeing something relatable with a maybe a little too much information but will leave feeling better about their own questionable life choices.
Grace: Its very relatable and doesn’t have interval which is a bonus. What they can look forward to is the long list of nicknames we have given to men in the past.
What has been the most rewarding part of this show to create for you?
Katie and Grace: working with your best friend
Why is this a production that a 2020 audience cannot miss?
Katie: Because 2020 is a wonderful time where women and other people who haven’t had the stage are now grabbing the mike and saying ‘listen to me!’
Grace: Because it's a great time to be a woman and have a platform to share stories in an unapologetic manner.
When first beginning a new project, what is the first part of your process in approaching a new role?
Katie: Before the season at Sydney Fringe Comedy my process begun by working out what it was that I wanted to say and find the jokes and anecdotes that get the themes across. For this season, it was more of an editing process and working out how I have changed and whether or not this changes the meaning of the project. I’ve realised that I’ll always change, grow and evolve, but the values of the story stay the same.
Grace: Again, we had a very random process. New dating experiences or day drinking epiphanies spurred on new stories and new material. Katie and I would get together and debate whether the story was just full gore with no substance or did it have an actual overall point to contribute to the work. We wanted to steer clear of just ‘gags’ and instead invite the audience in to our world through stories.
What is a common misconception that people have about your role in the production?
Katie and Grace: Are all the stories true? Unfortunately yes, yes they are.
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?
Katie: A lot of time, a lot of wine and a lot of love.
Grace: We have production meetings at Bronte beach jumping waves. This is where we brainstorm best. Then we drink a lot of wine and repeatedly listen to each others pieces.
Do you have any opening night rituals? If so, what are they?
Katie: I realised that I have said wine a lot, but we will have a wine first. Speed run our lines while walking around the block then tell each other how much we love each each.
Grace: We actually have a wine first. So bad. But we don’t care. We pace around the block and do a speed run of any bits we may of fumbled on in a run. We listen to Fleetwood Mac
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?
Katie: This one definitely because it came from me. From us. so I will always be connected to it.
Grace: I’ve enjoyed finding a point of view to my own stories. It's a bit like therapy to bring them up and analyse them and then make light of the situation.
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?
Katie: I’d known for a long time being on stage was something I wanted to do as a living not a hobby. Making my previous one woman show Temporary showed me that it is possible to make your own work. Hour of Power has changed my career because in trying something new has made me realise that I want to move away from traditional acting and more into creating my own work through stand up comedy.
Grace: I was one of those annoying over extraverted children who told anyone who would listen (even when they didn’t listen) that I was going to be an actor one day. I have since simmered down A LOT and discovered a whole bunch of other things I like to do in this industry like write and produce as well as perform. So something that stands out for me is the show that I wrote and created called 600 Bottles of Wine, it premiered on the BBC in 2018.
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?
Katie: I am always drawn to stories of strong and funny women such as Fleabag. Pretty much any story that finds humour in imperfection.
Grace: Relatable stories. Something that I can identity with. Normally revolving around dating, relationships, sex, friendship.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and what is still on your performance bucket list?
Katie: Performing my own writing with Temporary for the first time and making people laugh and connect to the material. In my future bucket list, like yonder in the future, I would love to sell out the Enmore Theatre for Hour of Power.
Grace: Watching 600 Bottles of Wine premiere on Australian TV in a pub surrounded by 100 people was a highlight. Something I aspire to do is turn comedy / writing / acting background into being a presenter or like a shoot for the moon goal is to have a talk show with heaps of guests.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given that you would like to pass on to aspiring theatre makers?
Katie: Make your own work. Tell your own stories. I only wish I had listened to this advice years ago.
Grace: Know why you’re doing it. Are you doing it for you or are you doing it for the audience
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
What is your favourite production you have ever seen?
Grace: Billy Crystals ‘700 Sundays’.
Katie: Hannah Gatsby’s ‘Douglas’
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world - where do you go?
Katie and Grace: New York
What is your dream show to work on?
Grace and Katie: Headline a comedy festival
What is a hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Katie: I love to read, paint, go for ponderous walks and drink wine.
Grace: Yoga, buy plants and drink wine
What’s next for you after this show?
Katie: I have a few projects in the pipeline so I will be spending some time writing.
Grace: Season 2 of 600 Bottles of Wine.
Hour of Power is running at Flight Path Theatre until January 25, 2020. You can get your tickets here.