Playing Face at Shopfront Arts Co-Op
Bearfoot Theatre's most ambitious original work yet, Playing Face by Cassie Hamilton, is an uncut exploration of the performance of identity within the roles society has laid out before us, and how strict adherence to these roles can often lead to the erosion of our truest self.
Rosie spoke with Writer and Director Cassie Hamilton about the inspiration behind this work and what exactly makes it so ambitious. Read the full interview below:
Incorporating film elements and a fully original score, Playing Face blends a number of genres, including farce, murder-mystery, camp, absurdism and horror. What inspired you to create such a unique work? How does the work use these themes to explore identity?
With the dominating themes being the performance of identity, emotional and physical domestic violence, and existential Nihilism, a blending of these larger than life conventions was the natural way to present these themes. There was no one thing that inspired me to write Playing Face, it ultimately being the culmination of the conventions I have used in previous works, and my desire to present my thoughts on identity in a way that was unique and impactful.
You’re both the Writer and Director of Playing Face. How does the experience of Directing your own piece differ from when you’re working on a piece that’s not your own?
I obviously have a far more in depth understanding of the nuances of the text from the get-go. It is certainly easier to put myself into the work as I can see the parts of myself I put into the text as I direct. It can be hard to let go of my own very specific views of the characters and allow the actors to have their own interpretations. However, that has also been one of the most joyous parts of this experience, seeing the actors relate to these complex characters.
This is the first fully realised production for Playing Face, but it’s been workshopped with actors before. How has the work developed since its first iteration?
One of the biggest changes the show went through was the addition of the video scenes. Given the context of reality television, it was suggested having scenes videoed could be a powerful motif for the performance of identity and help to bring the audience into the world. There has been smaller development, further world building, character development, but the major plot points stayed consistent throughout.
Playing Face has been described as Bearfoot’s most ambitious work yet. Why do you believe this work is so ambitious and what do you hope to achieve with it?
The show is ambitious on a technical level; we have never worked with AV before or with an accompanist. It is also ambitious in form, with a strong vein of absurdism throughout, I’ve placed a lot of trust in the audience that they will be able to work things out on their own. I hope that by allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions of the text, they will, in turn, be able to reflect on their own identity and existence in a new way.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Blackie Blackie Brown at STC
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
LA to see MJ Rodriguez in Little Shop of Horrors!
Dream show to direct?
The Wild Party (Andrew Lippa)
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Is Netflix a hobby?
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m currently writing a new musical so hopefully that will see the light of day very soon!
Playing Face opens at the Shopfront Arts Co-Op on October 23, 2019. You can get your tickets here.