Folk at Ensemble Theatre

Sister Winnie’s no ordinary nun. She’s feisty, irreverent and has a soft spot for a pint of Guinness. Her front room is a haven for socially awkward Stephen, who shares her passion for folk music. Their world is suddenly shattered – literally – when wayward and rebellious Kayleigh throws a brick through the window, bringing chaos into their lives. Each of them is keeping a secret and as confidences are shared, ever-optimistic Winnie concocts a harebrained scheme to help her friends unleash their creative talent on the world.

Carly spoke with actor Genevieve Lemon about this moving play and how her illustrious career in the Australian arts scene lead her to this role. Read the full interview below:

Genevieve Lemon

Folk is Tom Wells’ latest script and focuses on Sister Winnie who sounds as though she is anything but your average nun. What was it about this role that appealed to you and why do you feel it is an important story for Sydney audiences to make sure that they don’t miss during its Ensemble Theatre run this May?

Folk is a beautiful picture of three misfits who come together because of music. It's a small story, nothing earth shattering takes place in the course of the play, but the incidental moments reveal the depth of the characters and their connection. I believe that music is terribly powerful: it heals and inspires. It can change lives. I think it's important to sing every day.

 

You have been a regular on our Australian screens and stages, taking on a variety of strong women and sharing their stories with us. What is most important to you in the telling of female stories and how do you know when the role is right for you? Are there any women from history that you would still love to play, or any female characters that you’d love to take on? Why, in your opinion, is it important nowadays for these female voices to be heard through our theatre scene?

I rarely read a role and think "this role is perfect for me, I must play this role... " I mean, occasionally I think, this role would be a great fit, but normally it's not my decision... Lucky for me, Terence O' Connell and I have worked together before and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to do it again, and he has done Tom Wells' plays before. Luckily he found this one and thought it would be perfect for The Ensemble, and Mark Kilmurry agreed. Are there any women from history that you would still love to play, or any female characters that you’d love to take on? I was lucky enough to get to do Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf recently, again at The Ensemble, with Darren Gilshanen. That was heaven. No other dream roles, although Gipsy would be nice. Why, in your opinion, is it important nowadays for these female voices to be heard through our theatre scene? Well, as long as they make up more than half the theatre going public, why wouldn't they want to be represented onstage? Anyway, the best plays are about humanity, really, so they should resonate with humans in general, male, female and everything in between...
 

Winnie is a character who defies the expectations one may have of her and her position. She may be a nun but she is still ‘feisty, irreverent and with a soft spot for Guinness.’ How have you approached this role? What has your process been both for finding your character and also the relationship between Winnie and Stephen and Kayleigh?

My process is always about finding the character in the script, that's where all the secrets are revealed. I love rehearsal, because a good director always challenges you to find other meanings and other approaches to different lines and moments. I love that.
 

What can audiences expect from this production and what do you hope that they leave the Ensemble theatre talking about at the end of the show?

I hope they've had a really good laugh and a bit of a think, about these little ordinary people and their little ordinary lives. Cause, that's most of us, really, isn't it?
 

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:

 

Favourite production you have ever seen?

Oh, that's WAY too hard to answer... So many... I think if I had to choose one, I'd say Nicholas Nickleby, 1985, Sydney Theatre Company? John Howard and Tony Taylor were unforgettable.
 

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

New York City, Lots of Theatre to catch up on there. I'd love to see Hamilton.
 

Dream show to perform in?

Lots more musicals left to do! Anything with a great 'moment', doesn't always have to be the biggest role, as long as it has a moment, I'm happy.
 

Plays or musicals?

Could never choose. I want it all!
 

What’s next for you after this show?

I'm doing Diplomacy, back at the Ensemble. It's a remount of a great success they had last year, with John Bell and John Gaden. And we're going on tour with it, which should be great fun.

Folk is currently running at the Ensemble Theatre until the 1st June 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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