Gloria at the Seymour Centre
In the offices of a hip New York magazine, where the banter is more poisonous than the pens, a group of twentysomething editorial assistants scrap it out for their bosses’ jobs. And, a book deal before they’re thirty. In a culture powered by status and Starbucks, a regular work day suddenly turns into anything but and these aspiring journalists are presented with a career-defining shot at the best-seller list. In this razor-sharp dark comedy, MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Jacobs-Jenkins skewers ambition, office warfare and the cutthroat world of modern media.
Rosie spoke with actor Justin Amankwah about the Sydney premiere of this hit production and why he loves working with Outhouse Theatre Co. Read the full interview below:
Justin, you are everywhere in the theatre scene at the moment! Our readers will remember you from The Flick, The Kiss of the Gallery Guard and most recently Alice in Slasherland at the Old Fitz. What made Gloria the next stop for you in your career, and what drew you to this script?
Playing a number of different roles in one production is something that is fairly foreign to me so I was, and still am, very keen on that challenge.
Reading the script, I was very fascinated by how honest and kind some of the characters were with each other, even though they weren't taking any kind of benign approach in doing so. I was also highly intrigued by the turn of the narrative at the end of act one, like anybody would be. All in all, I thought it was a great piece of writing and I wanted desperately to be a part of this production.
This is your second show with the powerhouse production company Outhouse Theatre Co. Why did you want to work with this production company again and what has been unique about rehearsing Gloria?
I did my first ever production (The Flick) with Outhouse, and I was totally overawed about getting in the room on day one. But I very quickly felt that I had a place amongst everyone else; I was given the opportunity to genuinely contribute and also be as loud or quiet as I wanted to be. I am forever grateful for how educative and pleasurable the experience was. What's been unique for me was the two separate rehearsal blocks: three weeks in March then in May. It was so convenient getting to work on the script, put it down for a while and pick it up again.
This production of Gloria marks the Sydney premiere of the show that swept New York and London. Why do you think this play has been so popular? How do you think Sydney audiences will respond to this show?
Branden Jacob-Jenkin's contemporary approach in writing Gloria makes the play instantly relatable. He teases with subtle dramas that we're not sure what is occurring until the shocking twist leading up to act two. This event is something we've all heard or seen before in the media multiple times. But on the stage, because audiences are right there taking the journey with the characters, it's intimate and feels a lot more personal. And I believe it's why the show has been so popular, because people get a solid glimpse of what a scenario like that might be like.
Gloria explores the notion of how people seem to care passionately not only about whose story is given but also who is granted agency to voice it. Why is a story like this so important to bring to the stage in 2019?
Diversity and deceit are big themes in our world at the moment, and it's why this play is relevant, because it matters who the story comes from and where the story comes from.
In all the reviews of this work so far, an ‘unpredictably dark’ twist is mentioned. Without giving away the whole plot, can you give us an insight into how that unfolds?
A woman, Gloria, is shoved to the lowest social standing by her colleagues. She takes back liberation in one of the darkest ways possible.
What do you hope to achieve with this production of Gloria? What do you hope audiences walk away with?
I'm hoping this production will bring people closer to the event(s) that it displays and for audiences to walk away realising how close anyone can be to such occurrences.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Keep Calling by Chelsea Ingram, Dir. Herman Pretorius
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream show to perform in?
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I paint (rarely)
What’s next for you after this show?
I'm working with STC on Lord of the Flies
Gloria opens June 6 2019 at the Seymour Centre. You can get your tickets here.