Wakey Wakey at Red Stitch Actors' Theatre
Wakey, Wakey explores how human dignity and our eloquence in the face of annihilation are the most powerful and affecting theatrical story there is. Intelligent, clear sighted and utterly devoid of sentimentality, this exciting new play is an immersive, transforming spectacle.
To get into the world of the play as created by mastermind playwright Will Eno, Carly spoke with lead actor, Justin Hosking to learn more about the process of putting on this work and the relevance of this important new play. Read more below:
Wakey Wakey explores how human dignity in the face of annihilation is the most powerful story that there is and challenges us by being an immersive and transforming spectacle for the audience. That said, it is not an easy piece by Will Eno – what was it that drew you to this piece and have you found that the closer that you have gotten to it, the more layers of the text have revealed themselves to you or is it a text that puts its cards on the table from the beginning?
What drew me to the piece was it’s subject matter and the structure of the piece. I lost my mother not too long ago, and have two very young kids born on either side of her death, so I felt that I could really relate to the piece: experiencing the joy of life blossoming out of my kids, and experiencing the grief at the end for my dear mum. The structure is also quite anti-theatre., and really interesting to me. The audience are enticed to step into the space with the character, and share their experiences together.
Eno is a fabulous writer once you really get underneath his work. He thinks differently than most. There are many double entendres in his work, and space for multiple interpretations of text. So, yes, I think I’m across the general understanding of the piece, but layers are revealing themselves all the time.
The New York Times described Wakey Wakey as being “glowingly dark, profoundly moving” – what can you tell us about the expose that the show offers into humanity and life in general? In what ways does this text call on us to re-examine our relationship to the world?
Well, I guess it asks us to consider our own mortality. Just considering it, really considering it, can be a sobering experience and give you a sense of gratitude. Perhaps.
You joined the Red Stitch Ensemble and have performed in a wide range of works both in Australia and in the US. What is your process in uncovering a character and discovering them to take it from what you read on the page to what we see on the stage? Have you adopted that same process for this show and if so, as well as discovering your own identity as this character, what work has gone into forming the relationship with your co-star, Nicole Nabout’s character as well.
Well, the process does differ for different characters and styles or genres of plays. But, getting a good understanding of the ideas the writer is conveying is a good starting point. From there, there are many different techniques to make the character you’re playing unique to you. I wont bore you with them!
Initially, reading this play I really enjoyed it, and it shown to me that I really do take a lot of things for granted, as I don’t ponder death, or have a close relationship to it. I’m lucky that I currently have my health, and to try to imagine myself without it is a huge challenge. So, I’ve seen how my own identity is geared to not really palate my own mortality. Nicole is a wonderful human being and she is so open and caring and warm with everyone. So, her personality alone has made it really easy to have a close relationship with her. That’s been really easy.
Ultimately Wakey Wakey is positioned as a piece of theatre designed to make us think. What do you hope that audiences walk out of the theatre discussing? What do you think the biggest take- aways are from this story?
Well, I hope that people are a little braver to confront death, but, ultimately, they begin to think about how precious, miraculous and fleeting life is. The closer we get to death, the more luminous life is. But hopefully, we can realize while we’re living the same thing.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
That’s a toughie. Let’s go with The Moors directed by Stephen Nicolazzo.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream role to perform?
Hmmm, I guess, Othello. Playing Iago.
Plays or musicals?
Plays. Musicals are great, but I can’t sing or dance to save myself so I resonate closer with plays.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Reading, cooking, following North Melbourne and eating cheese.
What’s next for you after this show?
My wife is French and we have two little kids, so we’re off to France for a couple of months to spend time with her family. So, that’ll be great. From a theatre perspective, there’s a good chance you’ll see me on stage at Red Stitch later in the year.
Wakey Wakey plays at the Red Stitch Actors' Theatre until May 19th. Tickets are available here