The Dark Room at the Civic Playhouse
his week, we chatted with Samantha Lambert, who is currently performing in Angela Betzien's Dark Room at the Civic Playhouse in Newcastle.
Samantha Lambert: actor
The Dark Room hasn't been performed in Sydney since 2011. Why is this play being brought back now, and why at the Civic Playhouse in Newcastle?
Stooged chose to produce The Dark Room as it’s a highly confronting and moving script that will challenge the Newcastle theatre scene. The issues explored are ever-present. And an area such as Newcastle feels so disconnected from these issues yet may be part of the closed door syndrome. Staged in the playhouse for its intimate space, the audience plays the part of a bystander more so than a voyeur.
Now this is some really dark content. There are some exceptionally confronting scenes in this play, and with overlapping narratives this can become quite overwhelming. What is the importance of presenting the content in such an incredibly dark way?
I think it’s about facing the reality of certain situations. In reality people often look away from the issues explored because they are challenges with no easy solution. For many people, when it’s not an issue that directly impacts their community it is seen as someone else’s problem. And for this reason issues such as domestic violence, rape, police brutality and corruption often remain behind closed doors.
Jason Blake from The Sydney Morning Herald said the piece “…haunts you afterwards because it looks beyond itself and out to injustices that must be acknowledged even if they can’t be rectified”. I believe this show is very much about stripping the audience of everything but their basic humanity and inviting them to watch real situations unfold; stories that are indeed harrowing, but so very common. We want to spotlight that.
How have you coped with the intensity of the content and the dialogue? What methods do you use to stop yourself from becoming too emotionally affected by the scenes during rehearsals?
I step out of character after the show and tend to bounce around, not only to shake off withheld intensity, but to reenergize.
We have plenty of breathing time between each run, and, as cast we are masters in the art of snacking – plenty of lollies, chips, fruits and a lot of coffee.
What relevance does The Dark Room have to a 2018 audience?
I feel it’s a piece that will always be relative as the issues still continue. Throughout the process we found ourselves referencing new reports: troubling stories reported from remote communities throughout Australia. Unfortunately, such reports are not hard to come by – there are new stories every week.
This story is universal, and sadly, it is more relevant now than ever.
We now know why audiences should see The Dark Room, but why should they see this particular production?
A great cast, a creative crew, and strong direction: why not?
What has The Dark Room taught you about yourself?
In the space, it has taught me to be brave, to be ever ready to experiment and to trust wholeheartedly.
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Sport for Jove – The Tempest (One Night Stand) 2018
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Iceland… or Madagascar
Dream role in any show to perform?
Isobel (Bull) or a strong Shakespearean part
Plays or musicals?
Por que no los dos?
Who is your industry inspiration?
What’s next for you after this show?
A couple of shows that are yet to be announced. In the meantime, I have a few more performances of touring show Opening Doors (Tantrum Theatre).
The Dark Room is showing at the Civic Playhouse in Newcastle from the 1st to the 4th of August. You can get your tickets at http://premier.ticketek.com.au/Shows/Show.aspx?sh=DARKROOM18