How to Change the World and Make Bank Doing It
A tight-knit group of charity fundraisers are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a newcomer with questionable motives. In their burgeoning online world and amidst prevalent automation, this small group of fundraisers are forced to question how far they need to go to get peoples attention and what it takes to change a person’s point of view. Commercialism and charity collide with personality clashes, ethical debates and lots of facts.
Carly spoke to actor Dominique Purdue about the return season of this work, and what the show aims to highlight about our current society and the future of charity work. Read the full interview below:
How to Change the World and Make Bank Doing It returns to Sydney after a run at the Sydney Fringe Festival in 2018. Your character, Lucia, is new to the show – can you tell us a bit about Lucia and what audiences who saw the show last year may expect to find this year. What has changed about the show and how have the additions of new characters helped to further bring out the messages of the plays? What is your characters role in the piece?
Lucia is the most extreme version of a charity worker. She is incredibly passionate and outspoken and will go to any lengths to sign people up. Her intentions are pure, but her ambition and boldness often come across as tactless and disrespectful; this causes her to clash with the people around her (including the audience!). The initial fringe show centred on Eve and Chloe; someone in the wrong job and someone in the job for the wrong reasons. Michael and Ian added Lucia because they felt they needed to fill the gap between the two; someone who really did believe in the charity but overstepped boundaries because they were so fired up. That’s what Lucia brings to the play; she’s basically the true voice of the charity and the cause. Lots of fundraisers have these qualities in real life, but in the play we take it to the extremes, so we can show the audience these very real problems and frustrations that many people have with them.
The show focuses on charity workers and the turmoil that ensues when a new worker is added to the mix who has questionable motives. What has inspired your character development for this show? How much of it is true to those who actually work in the not-for-profit field and how much is perhaps farce?
Our writers and directors, Michael and Ian, have both spent time as charity workers; in fact, a couple of the scenes from the play are verbatim from their own experiences. This was invaluable to us as actors; to hear about the day-to-day life of these charity workers was perfect when creating our characters. In my case, I believe that Lucia’s passion and indignity with global issues comes from a very real place; I would like to think that most charity workers (and people in general) are becoming increasingly outraged at the world we live in and are trying to take steps to combat these issues. However, as I stated before, Lucia is the most extreme version of a charity worker; sometimes exaggeration can be illuminating. The interactions Lucia has with some people in the play may not be true to real-life charity workers, but it definitely comes from a place of honesty; hopefully this means the audience will be able to see where Lucia is coming from!
And further to that, Michael Becker both wrote and directs this piece. As an actor, how is it different working with a director who is also the writer? Does it change the rehearsal process at all or the responsibility you feel to your character? What is your personal process for finding a character and developing her to the full fledged person we see on stage?
I personally didn’t feel any added pressure having Michael as both the writer and the director. In fact, it was a very collaborative process, so the script was constantly changing. The more rehearsals we did, the more nuisances we found both within and between our characters and Michael was very open to allowing that to edit the script. That was new to me; this is the first time I’ve worked on a new play and it was exciting to be a part of that side of the production. My personal process is a combination of research and personal experience. And script analysis; a lot of script analysis! I’m a firm believer that pretty much everything you need to create a character is on the page; the research and personal experience just fill in the blanks. For this character, I was able to draw on my experiences on living in the Philippines and being half Filipino. I was born in the Philippines and lived there for eighteen years and though I was not poor myself, I saw first-hand the helpless victims of an impoverished and corrupt country. I love my country, but it is harrowing and painful to witness things like that. It makes you want to fight for change. This allowed me to find the rage and rationalise a lot of Lucia’s behaviour. I was also lucky to work with such great actors; working off of them made it easy to create the intricate dynamic and relationships that you will see on stage.
One of the major obstacles facing the characters in the play is the fear of automation and therefore of redundancy – of knowing that their job is becoming useless due to advancing technology. How important do you find this commentary to be on our current society? How central is this fear to the story and what can we expect to perhaps learn or have our beliefs challenged on in this regard?
Technology has been such an advantage to society. It has changed the way we communicate and relate to each other. For the most part, they have been good changes; information is exchanged much quicker and across greater distances, so we are more globally connected than ever before. But, ironically, as Lucia aptly points out in the play, we are also more disconnected from each other than ever before. Technology means that we spend less time interacting with each other in person. This makes it easy to avoid certain realities; it’s a lot easier to scroll past a headline about dying children, than it is to walk past someone trying to tell you about them. This play shows us that we need to listen to each other more; not read messages from each other online, but to actually stand in front of someone and listen to what they have to say, which is what these charity workers do daily. Technology is a great thing for society, but we need to remember not to depend on it. This play will remind people of the importance of a genuine human connection when trying to make a difference.
What do you think the play aims to say about the society in which we live? What do you hope audiences leave still discussing once the show ends?
It aims to confront audiences about the reality of the world we live in. We hear these facts and we read these stories in the news, but it hardly ever spurs us to actually take action. There are some confronting scenes in the play, both from the fundraisers and the people they talk to and I hope audience members can see themselves, or people they know, in these characters. As I’ve said, the show is taking these issues to an extreme place, but I hope audiences will see the kernels of truth in these scenes. The play mainly reiterates what most people already know; that we are a global community and should help those who need it the most in our world. But we become complacent; we sympathise, but we don’t do anything to actually help. Hopefully, this play will force audiences to confront that (myself included) and will actually inspire them to do something. Even if that means just actually standing and listening to a charity worker instead of ignoring them!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Twelfth Night at the Globe Theatre in London
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Tahiti; I am in dire need of a tropical vacation!
Dream show to direct?
Venus in Fur by David Ives
Plays or musicals?
I love both but of course I have to say plays!
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Horse-back riding! I wish I did it more so that it was a proper hobby, but yes I love horse-back riding
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m going to be in Collaborators at the New Theatre! We start rehearsals this week and I am so, so excited for this production; it’s going to be a good one!
How to Change the World and Make Bank Doing It opens at Limelight on Oxford onApril 17, 2019. You can get your tickets here.