The Moors at the Seymour Centre
Two sisters and a dog live on the bleak English moors, and dream of love, power and notoriety. The arrival of a governess, the pointed schemes of a scullery maid, and the musings of a moorhen set this odd assembly on a strange and dangerous path. A cleverly crafted black comedy about love, desperation, and visibility, The Moors is a brilliant new work by Jen Silverman, a fresh new voice who takes chances. Mich spoke with actor Romy Bartz about bringing Jen Silverman's work to life, and exactly what we can expect when we walk into the theatre. Check out the full interview below:
The Moors has been touted as having a very current message although the play is set in the 1840s. What is it that you believe makes the messages in this play so relevant today? What do you hope audiences leave the theatre discussing?
Last year the #MeToo flood gates opened in Australia so what better time to discuss gender equality and celebrate our ability to transform and move forward as a community. Just like the theatre, in The Moors everything is possible. The women are strong and actively attempt to carve out their futures without help or support from men. In fact, the only male character, a dog, acts like a poor female stereotype, pining and whining after his inappropriate mate, desperate to be loved, to talk and be understood. The female characters role play male stereotypes as a means to break down social barriers and create new opportunities for tremendous freedom and power. The imaginary and surreal world of The Moors shines a light on social constriction, dominance and submission, definitions of happiness and self discovery – all issues that are under current scrutiny and often debated.
Can you tell us a bit about the character you play and what makes this character important to the plot development and overall vision for this piece?
My character, Agatha, drives the story forward. She is the ultimate strategist and goal setter. She is rigorous in her planning and determined to create a strong and secure future for herself. Agatha is not afraid to move out of what is socially acceptable in order to meet her objectives. She is all about freedom and helps other characters realise their freedom and potential too. She is constantly working at bringing about a lasting change and this desire for change stems from the moors environment which whilst inhospitable abounds in merciless strength.
Jen Silverman is being talked about as one of the most exciting new writers at the moment. what has it been like bringing her piece to life?
It has been thrilling. The play is very fast paced and economic in its dialogue. The language is a kind of modern/classical so requires great articulation, speed and dexterity. My character, Agatha is very precise and doesn’t labour over details; she is always pushing towards an objective in a playful way and removing obstacles when she needs to. All the characters contrast nicely and we get a real sense of what it is to desire change and happiness from many perspectives.
As a dark comedy, how was the creative process for this piece? Do you find this different to other pieces you have worked on?
I tend to gravitate towards dark comedy as it appeals to my own sense of humour. When comedy is well written, such as in The Moors, it is like a musical score and requires great timing and rhythm to make it work. In saying that, the same rules apply for any style of performance: the stakes still need to be high, you still need to find your character’s motivation, focus and objective. If you play for laughs it generally doesn’t work. In The Moors, the text is already funny enough.
Do you feel there is a specific audience for this play and, if so, who do you think it is targeted at?
No, I think it will appeal to a wide audience as it looks at fundamental questions like how to be happy, how to be successful, how to be prudent and build a future and, most importantly, how to be free from constraints and forge a new path. I can’t imagine a single adult who hasn’t confronted these questions at one time or another.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite production you have ever seen?
This is a difficult question to answer. Simon Stones’ The Wild Duck for Belvoir St.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream role or trick to perform?
Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Plays or Musicals?
I love both!
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
Directing a musical, and teaching drama at NIDA and The McDonald College.
The Moors opens at the Seymour Centre February 9th and runs until March 1st. You can get your tickets here.