The following is an abridged transcript of Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Gross Und Klein’s Night with the Actors.
Sydney Theatre Company
Gross Und Klein – Night with the Actors
Date: November 28, 2011
Cast: All present
Moderator: Andrew Upton
On Benedict Andrews being brought in at such a late stage:
Benedict came in late to do the production. After the other director, Swiss Luc Bondy fell sick.
On whether a director can have a lot of input at such a late stage:
Benedict had worked with the cast and crew before and brought his own input into the room and also speaks through other elements that weren’t his (the original director’s instead).
I auditioned in year and a half ago. I could have been in a home (laughing). Instead I get to go to Europe.
I got to meet Martin Crimp. (Swooning)
On Strauss’ political views:
I believe you have something in mind.
In regards to racial slurs in Germany:
Strauss is a celebrated dramatist in German who wrote an article where he portrayed himself as righteous.
For those unfamiliar with it, Strauss wrote an essay in Germany ten years ago about keeping the family stable. This play is not from that time.
On giving Strauss (and the play) a voice:
A voice is a voice.
You do a play because it is good.
Strauss is describing a very different Germany that doesn’t exist and has heart.
The play has been considered the theatrical experiment of the past thirty years.
On getting into the role:
I was in a very flawed version of the play at university, but didn’t play Lotte. So I have to go in with an open mind, if you have a single-minded opinion/approach it is wrong. I became an actor to be surprised and continue to be that way with each role / production.
At opening night I forgot the play was German since it has an Australian voice and strength. Plays are ours to take and make sense of what we make. Then to translate it back to German.
On the rehearsal period:
Usually a play is done 8-10 times in a room when it is a three act play. This play was only run once before it hit the theatre. There were six weeks plus one week for technical rehearsals in the theatre.
Question: I don’t know how you got it right.
On mental illness and whether it meant to be ingrained into the play
It depends on who you talk to. Some say yes she is mentally ill, while others say she isn’t.
Strauss was born in East Germany and lived in West Germany. So it is like a love letter to Germany of the unravelling times. The spirit was being disintegrated by political times. So the question is are they mad or is she mad?
On detail, characterisation and stage directions:
As much as you write in a script, they never do it (laughs). The original translation was five hours in length.Martin (Crimp) could define time and space.
Benedict did say that some are useful. If a stage direction is left there you need to have a useful alternative to remove it.
It’s not the same as a Beckett play, that there is a mistake if you remove it.
On spangles and why were they used:
Because I look fabulous in them. (Laughing) It was part of Lotte’s fantasy. A red jumpsuit was removed in rehearsals but the gold was kept in as a spiritual insertion. When in doubt wear sequins.
I get the feeling it is a reference to Wings of Desire and being on the swing.
On God being an important aspect in the play and living the dream as an actor:
Not in the characters I play. I am grateful but there is always the thing of wanting more.
Madness and religious questions. Is Lotte or God mad? Dream seems to stay a reality and is offset by the inconvenience of having to go to Paris.
On approaching a new text:
Fantastic adaptation by Martin. Martin is economical. Everything that needs to be in it is in it and makes it accessible.
On having a clear idea of your character or on how you found your character:
You try to connect with the text and character. My take was very different in the audition to the rehearsals. You don’t want to be too unmovable and to make it not work.
The benefit with Benedict is you can shift things, experiment.
You are in dialogue with actors therefore for you need to shift any pre-conceptions.
On the intensity of the play:
Cate! (Passing question over to her) You have to go in with the right energy or you miss your moment (even for supporting characters). Not that that has happened…
Rehearsals are horrible.
Audience keeps it fresh. The house will stay the same but the audience changes.
On kooky dancing and how to approach the role:
Kooky? (Feigns hurt) You do your work and a good director will help bring that to the focus.