MANY ROLES TO PLAY

REL­E­VANT THEMES

Wanneroo Times - - Lifestyle -

BREN­DAN Han­son is a Pad­bury per­former who does not like to rest on his lau­rels and looks for ways to chal­lenge him­self wher­ever he can.

So when the WAAPA lec­turer was ap­proached by Kate Cherry while she was pro­gram­ming her last sea­son as artis­tic di­rec­tor at Black Swan State Theatre Com­pany to star in I Am My Own Wife, he jumped at the chance for the solo “ex­treme act­ing” role.

“It doesn’t get much more than 36 char­ac­ters with 36 ac­cents and 80 pages of script,” Han­son said.

“You don’t get many op­por­tu­ni­ties as an ac­tor to flex your mus­cles to this ex­tent.”

Han­son said the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award­win­ning play by Doug Wright had been on his radar long be­fore the op­por­tu­nity arose and de­scribed it as a beau­ti­ful, in­sight­ful, funny and mov­ing piece of theatre.

“It’s a bi­o­graph­i­cal piece about Ger­many’s most fa­mous trans­ves­tite,” he said.

“The cen­tral char­ac­ter, Char­lotte von Mahls­dorf, sur­vived the Nazis and the rise and fall of the Iron Cur­tain; the play in­ves­ti­gates how she does that.

“It has 36 char­ac­ters with the cen­tral ones her, the play­wright Doug Wright who wrote him­self into it and Char­lotte’s dear­est friend, Al­fred Kirschner.”

Un­der­stand­ably, Han­son has had to pre­pare a lot longer than usual for I Am My Own Wife, start­ing a year ago to learn lines and re­search.

“I started by read­ing Char­lotte von Mahls­dorf’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy which was pub­lished in the early ’90s, just be­fore she came up on Wright’s radar, and there is a doc­u­men­tary about the book,” he said.

“It was fas­ci­nat­ing she sur­vived two regimes who not just frowned upon the life of peo­ple who were trans or gay but ex­ter­mi­nated them. It’s in­cred­i­ble she man­aged

to thrive in that en­vi­ron­ment.”

Han­son said he never thought about be­ing the only ac­tor on stage be­cause “there are 36 of us and I fo­cus on be­ing all those 36 peo­ple, rather than think­ing it’s just me on my own”.

The tim­ing of the sea­son could not be more rel­e­vant.

“I hope peo­ple sur­ren­der some of their own judge­ment,” Han­son said.

“In this po­lit­i­cal time with mar­riage equal­ity and the neo-Nazi ri­ots in Charlottesville, it’s just mad, and this story in­ves­ti­gates all of that but in a clever and en­gag­ing way so that au­di­ences aren’t told what to think; they’re go­ing to have to make up their own mind. I think that’s a won­der­ful mea­sure of the play.”

Bren­dan Han­son as Char­lotte von Mahls­dorf.

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