Trevor at KXT
Trevor is a has been. The auditions have dried up and his days as a television actor are behind him. But, Trevor has dreams. He wants another shot at the big time. And, above all, to re-unite with his former commercial co-star, Morgan Fairchild. However, it’s tough to make a comeback in Hollywood. Particularly, if you are a chimpanzee. Like Trevor.
Rosie spoke with performer Jamie Oxenbould about this quirky comedy and what it takes to play a 200-pound chimpanzee. Read the full interview below:
Trevor is a subversive comedy about fame, flawed communication and love. Most interestingly it’s inspired by true events. Can you elaborate on what events inspired a story about an erratic, 200-pound chimpanzee?
Well the play was inspired by a pretty tragic event that happened about a decade ago. A woman was raising a chimp called Travis in the US. By all accounts he was a charming and very well behaved chimp in his youth, who appeared in a few TV commercials, etc, and was a bit of a celebrity in the town they lived in...but as he got older he started to get unruly and wild and then one day he viciously attacked his owners friend and the chimps owner stabbed him and called police who eventually shot him. That’s just the inspiration for our play, which I have to stress is a comedy.
What attracted you to Trevor the script, as well as Trevor the character? Why did you think this was an important story to bring to a Sydney audience?
My partner, Di Adams, saw the play in LA a few years ago and wanted to put it on here immediately. It’s very funny, and the idea of a chimp who can be understood by the audience but not by the other characters in the play I thought was a brilliant concept. As soon as I read it I realized this is a gift of a role for any actor, to play a chimpanzee who also an ageing, frustrated actor, who says and does whatever he wants in any given circumstances is way too much fun. I think this play is important right now, not just because it provides a good laugh (which is always important) but because it brings up (among others) the desire for fame and celebrity and belonging and the lengths we’ll go to for it...except its a monkey that has those desires. I think that hunger in humans right now is worth examining.
Joining you on stage is your real-life partner, Di Adams, who will be playing Trevor’s owner Sandra. What’s it like taking to the stage with your partner? Does it change the rehearsal process?
Having Di play my owner certainly makes the rehearsal process easier. We can rehearse at home and in the car...and you also have a very quick and open relationship with a scene partner which is great. You have limited time to rehearse in independent theatre so any extra time working is a godsend. It’s probably affected the dynamic of our relationship in some weird way, but when the shows over we’ll let our therapist sort that out.
Speaking of the rehearsal process, working up to create the realistic physicality of a 200-pound chimp must require a lot of preparation. What work have you done to develop the character of Trevor? Is it a jarring process to develop such animalistic physicality when the language in the play is so eloquent?
The physicality involved has been an interesting process. Initially I just watched lots and lots of chimp videos and documentaries. I thought I’d be doing quite a realistic version of a chimp in the show, but its actually much subtler than that. Trevor is a chimp who’s greatest desire is to be a human, so its closer to a man playing a chimp who is trying desperately to be a man. It’s also pretty amazing how little you have to do portray a chimp...they’re so close to us, that its only the subtlest of stances, carries and ways we sit that bring out the inner monkey.
Outhouse Theatre Co seems to be everywhere at the moment! What is it about this company that makes them so great to work with, and why do you think their works continue to be at the forefront of the Sydney theatre scene?
Outhouse Theatre Company are everywhere at the moment, two fantastic shows running concurrently....Gloria and Trevor. And they do John later in the year. It’s their year of one name show titles. Jeremy Waters is an amazingly committed producer who loves the theatre and doesn’t believe in doing things by halves. That’s why every one of their shows is as good as anything you’ll see on any stage in Sydney. He has a great eye for a good play and companies like his (and the many other indie theatre companies who are killing it right now) - really fill a role in Sydney, putting on shows that the bigger theatre companies don’t think are viable or suitable.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Impossible to pick a favourite. Las Fura Dels Baus was incredible. Nicholas Nickleby. The Pillowman and Book of Mormon on Broadway. There are a million others.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Greece. Or New York to see a bunch of shows.
Dream show to perform in?
In my dreams I can sing and dance, so my dream show to be in would be a big musical.
Plays or musicals?
In reality though. I love to watch a musical, I’m just a sucker for them. But to perform in...I love a good comedy. Heightened, character, clowny stuff. That’s my comfort zone.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
My hobby is drawing. I draw cartoons. You can see them on my instagram jamie_oxenbould.
What’s next for you after this show?
After this show I am doing Baby Doll at the Ensemble Theatre, also directed by Shaun Rennie who directed Trevor.
Trevor opens at the Kings Cross Theatre on June 14. You can get your tickets here.