TONI SCAN­LON HOME FOR BLACK SWAN

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

PERTH ac­tor Toni Scan­lon may have adopted Brunswick Heads in NSW as her new home, but her east coast base could never beat a Cottes­loe sun­set.

Scan­lon was at the western sub­urbs beach for this in­ter­view af­ter re­hears­ing for Black Swan State Theatre Com­pany’s An­gelsinAmer

ica, her first pro­duc­tion in Perth since per­form­ing in Dorothy Hewett’s play Field­sofHeaven at The Play­house Theatre 34 years ago. Al­though theatre is her first love, Scan­lon said she was still most recog­nised for her six years on Aus­tralia drama WaterRats, where she cited the ca­ter­ing and con­sis­tency of a pay check as the high­lights of the gig.

“Get­ting a gig on tele­vi­sion is like win­ning the lot­tery,” she said.

“I don’t think the work was as in­ter­est­ing in those days, al­though it might be for those do­ing tele­vi­sion now be­cause I think the scripts are prob­a­bly a bit bet­ter than they were.

“It’s not like do­ing a play where there’s a be­gin­ning, mid­dle and end and you have a beau­ti­ful five to six weeks of re­hearsal where you can re­ally find a char­ac­ter quite in depth.

“You don’t know who you are re­ally in tele­vi­sion; they just say ‘play you’ and a lot of ac­tors don’t like play­ing them­selves. That’s why they be­came ac­tors.”

Scan­lon said she jumped at the chance to re­turn home for the Black Swan sea­son of play­wright Tony Kush­ner’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-win­ning play.

Set in 1985 New York, the drama fol­lows young gay man Prior Wal­ter who has been di­ag­nosed with AIDS and aban­doned by his lover.

He is vis­ited in a dream by an an­gel who brands him a prophet and tasks him with sav­ing hu­man­ity from it­self.

“It is a crack­ingly good play; it is just such a dy­namic, ex­tra­or­di­nary piece of work and I don’t know any ac­tor who wouldn’t love to do it,” Scan­lon said.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic piece with great themes and at the end of the day it’s funny, sur­real, hon­est and con­fronting, and that makes for a bloody good night at the theatre.”

Scan­lon said she had drawn on her Stanislavski sys­tem of trans­for­ma­tion train­ing at Drama Cen­tre Lon­don to play mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters in the pro­duc­tion, rang­ing from Mor­mon mother Han­nah to an 88-yearold rabbi and his­tor­i­cal fig­ure Ethel Rosen­berg.

“It’s set when the world was try­ing to get its head around the AIDS epi­demic,” she said.

“It shows us how far we’ve come by over­com­ing prej­u­dice and fac­ing that prob­lem head on, at least here in the west.

“But in an­other way, the play shows us how much we need to face and make repa­ra­tions for things like cli­mate change, cor­po­rate greed and political in­ep­ti­tude.

“It makes us look at the no­tion of real re­spon­si­bil­ity which of­ten re­quires us to change; Tony Kush­ner said we would rather die than change.”

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