The Wolves at Belvoir
Sarah DeLappe's international hit The Wolves returns to Sydney after a popular run at The Old Fitz Theatre, opening at Belvoir Theatre February 6th. Carly spoke with actor Brenna Harding about bringing the work back to the stage, the importance of female-driven works and how her character has developed over time. Read the full interview below:
The Wolves was last seen at the Old Fitz last year – how has it been getting the team back together for its Belvoir revival? What has the process been like a second time around? Has much needed to change or be restaged?
It’s been so exciting to get the team back together- we all get on magnificently, and it’s always a joy to work with a group of friends who you respect and admire. It’s some of the team’s first mainstage show, and for many of us, myself included, our Belvoir debut, which is a really wonderful milestone to share as young performers. Because we only rehearsed for two weeks the first time around, this rehearsal session has kind of meant we’ve had the third and fourth rehearsal weeks that productions usually get so we’ve gone a lot deeper and explored new territory in the text. Michelle Ny referred to it as adding new layers on top of our previous performance, rather than a completely new interpretation. Having a bigger space, in Belvoir upstairs, allows the show to breathe and our soccer skills take up the space they always deserved. We’re also adapting to play to three different sides of an audience, which for this text means each audience members will each have a unique experience, having access to various moments and character reactions throughout the show.
How do you feel you have developed your character over the year and what has the difference been for you in picking up the show for the second time? Is there more of a comfortability in the character or more pressure after the show’s great success last year, etc? How do you balance that?
It’s a bit of both I suppose. I had a really fortuitous year between seasons and was lucky enough to do two shows with Griffin so felt like I learnt a lot more about more about theatre and stagecraft; but as they say the more you know the less you know, and I’ve definitely been challenged deepen understanding of my character and the way the play functions. I think balancing your individual character’s journey with the progression of the story from an ensemble perspective is one of the interesting dynamics of performing in the Wolves, but one that is incredibly rewarding when you achieve it. I think everyone has really lifted their game this season, perhaps because we have a bigger space to work with, so there is more room for all the characters having moments of nuance, and that has definitely driven me to work harder. Jess Arthur has been great at guiding us into the demands of a new space, and making sure our individual journeys are contributing well to the whole.
Having had a successful career in both stage and screen, which medium do you prefer to work in and how do you approach your characters differently for each medium?
I definitely feel a need for both. They are different muscles; from stage I get to engage deeply with the text, and map beats and an arc that need to be recreated night after night, whereas screen I tend to be more intuitive, and responsive on the day, allowing the director and editor to shape the performance for their vision. It’s a unique job in that it’s the same practice of acting but engaged with in such different ways, and I am glad to have that variety.
What do you feel is the most important thing that audiences take away from this show? What do you hope they leave realising?
To respect and appreciate the young women in their life as the complex, evolving, and powerful beings that they are.
This piece is wonderfully female driven with both a female director in Jess Arthur and then an ensemble of 9 women – what has this team been like to work with? Has it been different to other shows that you have begun work on in the past because of its ensemble nature? And then, any fun rehearsal memories or bloopers from your first run that you still laugh about together?
We laugh constantly, it is a real joy. It's so empowering to be in an all women team, there is a real emotional safety in the room and equality of opinions and thoughts. Beyond gender, we all care deeply for one another beyond the professional sphere, especially because we’ve had that enduring relationship because of the remount, so there’s always someone there to sound out a character or personal problem. We’re in a climate where the theatre and performance spaces here and around the world are investing in conversations around safety, especially in terms of bullying and harassment, and I’ve seen a culture developing in the shows I’ve been in recently, particularly The Wolves, of holding space for each other emotionally. As actors particularly, we are engaging in emotional work, and it’s crucial for us to feel safe to be not 100% okay sometimes, and our fellow actors and creatives are well placed, and almost always willing to support.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Strange Interlude at Belvoir Street Theatre
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
I don’t think it’s been written yet
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
Rose Pickles in Cloudstreet at Malthouse (eeeek!)
The Wolves opens at Belvoir's Upstairs Theatre on February 6th 2019. You can get your tickets here.