Everyday life a stage inspiration
■ How long have you been a playwright and actress for?
I’ve always enjoyed making up and telling stories. I told a lot of tall tales as a kid, which often got me in trouble. Then I figured out how to use my powers for good through drama classes in high school, getting in much less trouble, so I stuck with it.
I studied theatre at university in Te Whanganui-a-tara, and formed a theatre company with some friends I graduated with in 2009.
Our company is called full. stop. theatre and is still based down there.
I’ve worked as a freelance actor and writer since, and worked as a junior academic at University of Wellington and Te Whare Wa¯ nanga o Waikato. I’m currently finishing my Creative Practice PHD on writing theatre for the three national languages of Aotearoa — New Zealand Sign Language, Te Reo
Ma¯ ori and NZ English. Full. stop. theatre just staged our biggest production this year, Modern Girls in Bed — a play about Aotearoa women from history who took to bed for various reasons (I played Katherine Mansfield). It was at Circa Theatre in Te Whanganui-atara.
■ What inspires you with writing and acting?
Everyday life. People are very strange and so are the stories we all tell ourselves to get by. David Sedaris has great simple writing advice — be alive and be observant. It’s good advice for actors too.
I also like learning from other art forms to see how stories are told in languages I’m not fluent in, like music, kapa haka or painting. I have long given up hoping to be cool or patted on the back for writing and acting.
I try to tell each story one truthful word at a time and accept that I will make mistakes. Letting go of perfectionism inspires me to finish whatever project I’m working on and just put it out into the world.
■ What do you enjoy about acting and writing?
I love all the conversations around a work that happens. I enjoy collaborating in writing and performance, weaving together multiple stories to make one big story, which you all polish together. I love getting to meet people after a show and immediately get to talking about real heavy stuff because you just made them feel something with your story. Being connected by story creates community.
I also love to see and make both process and structure. Seeing how other actors approach rehearsal, performance techniques and character development through working next to them has been my best education.
As a writer I love researching and letting ideas soak into my subconscious before finding a purposeful structure for the story to live in.
I also just straight-up love showing off in a controlled environment, making people laugh and empathise.
■ What do you have coming up/ what will you be up to in future? Over the summer I will be artist in residence at The Arts Village, as part of their Open Studios Project. I’ll be running some free acting and devising workshops over summer, which you can sign up for on The Arts Village’s website. While I’m in residence, I’m writing a new play which I plan to produce and stage later in the year.
After that, I’m starting next year as a drama teacher at Lakes Performing Arts Company, teaching weekly classes for anyone aged six to 106. We have an open day on Saturday January 19, where you can come to a class at LPAC for gold coin koha, and decide if you want to come regularly.
My partner Cameron Reid and I are also launching an independent record store, Ko¯pe¯a Rotorua. We will have a pop-up store on Eruera St in February 2019, launching an online store soon and will be at the Night Markets regularly from then. We sell Aotearoa music on vinyl, cassette and CDS. This country, and especially this city, has so much incredible talent, so let’s support Aotearoa music and artists! Mauri ora!
Local playwright and actress Alex Lodge.