From peas­ant girl to gover­nor’s wife

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Tanya MacNaughton

AUDITIONING for a role with­out ac­tu­ally act­ing is an un­usual ap­proach but one Caitlin Beresford-Ord was pre­sented with by National Theatre of China di­rec­tor Wang Xiaoy­ing for The Cau­casian Chalk Circle.

“We got talking about pol­i­tics, in­ter­est­ingly enough; we talked about the ques­tions of na­ture and nur­ture, and the de­hu­man­is­ing as­pect of war,” Beresford-Ord said.

“I love pol­i­tics and it led to an in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sion and 24 hours later I had a call from my agent saying Dr Wang loved ev­ery­thing I had said and I was in.

“He’d never seen me act but I think he wanted to know if peo­ple en­gaged with the ideas of the piece and trusted any­one Black Swan State Theatre Com­pany was bring­ing in to see him could act.”

The Cau­casian Chalk Circle is an in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Black Swan State Theatre Com­pany and National Theatre of China, where Dr Wang will di­rect the Ber­tolt Brecht play per­formed in English with Man­darin sub­ti­tles.

The play was orig­i­nally de­rived from 14th cen­tury Chi­nese fa­ble Circle of Chalk by Li Xing­dao.

Beresford-Ord said this pro­duc­tion moved back to­wards the ancient Chi­nese story Brecht used.

“We’re train­ing in Chi­nese theatre and the move­ments that go with that, but with a dis­tinc­tively Aus­tralian flavour,” she said.

“They call it Chi­nese opera but they re­ally mean theatre be­cause opera cov­ers ev­ery­thing (drama and mu­sic theatre) in China.

“There are beau­ti­ful masks and cos­tumes and won­der­ful songs writ­ten by Clint Brack­nell.”

The pro­duc­tion is very dif­fer­ent to the 1998 ver­sion Beresford-Ord was in dur­ing her days at WAAPA, where she played peas­ant girl Grusha, who finds an aban­doned in­fant and takes care of him as if he were her own.

That WAAPA pro­duc­tion was set dur­ing the heart of the Yu­goslav wars.

“Dr Wang very gen­tly told me I was too old to play that role this time, which was fine and I un­der­stood,” Beresford-Ord said.

“I’m now the gover­nor’s wife who is in­ter­est­ing to play be­cause she’s cruel, self­ish and vi­cious and has no idea that she’s all these things.”

The gover­nor’s wife is also the mother who aban­dons her in­fant son and Beresford-Ord said her own moth­er­hood made her look at the work in a new light.

“I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son now be­cause I’m a mother and wasn’t when I did it be­fore, so there’s all these dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives that come into play,” she said.

WHAT: WHERE: WHEN: TICK­ETS: Caitlin Beresford-Ord in The Cau­casian Chalk Circle, National Theatre of China di­rec­tor Wang Xiaoy­ing. which will be di­rected by cel­e­brated

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