Joy – Did you get a chance to meet and spend much time with writer Suzie Miller prior to the show opening?
Sheridan – Yes, she was in the room for large portions of the rehearsals and in the first week around the table reading and talking and pulling the play apart. For me it was important to get a real in depth handle on that world, she was a lawyer so she has an incredible knowledge of the world, for me observing a female talking about these things in depth it was a great character study to see a woman of incredible knowledge and experience talk about that it, so I was observing her like a hawk to see how she discussed the law. So she was a big influence on my portrayal.
Joy - As much as #MeToo has been sweeping the globe, is it enough? Do you think we are seeing change for women, that the tipping point of sexual abuse and harassment is behind us now?
Sheridan - I think we’ve got so far to go, incredibly exciting though, for this moment to happen, of course in Australia because of our defamation laws our #MeToo movement has notoriously stalled compared to where it has gone globally - and that comes back to the law, our justice system – who is it serving? At the moment those defamation laws largely serve the accused and make it extremely difficult for the burden of proof to be realised and it’s the same with sexual assault, it’s he said/ she said. I am excited about the younger generation of women who as the #MeToo movement hit they learned about the movement and joined before they had anything to lose, before they’s been in any system where if they spoke up, they might be putting job in danger, they might be losing relationships, or see their career squashed so their sense of outrage or justice hasn’t been minimised… I am hoping that they are not going to take a lot of shit!
Joy – A friend of mine said that Prima Facie was the first time that they hard seen you in a show that wasn’t a musical – is it good to give your singing voice a rest?
Sheridan - Well I thought it would be, but the show is 95 minutes and I barely get to swallow. So it’s as if I’m back doing a musical, I am steaming and taking Nurofen and looking after myself which is my least favourite thing to do, I really like to live the rock ’n’ roll tour life. So it’s actually been just as taxing as if it were a singing show especially now that we’ve moved to the bigger spaces, Canberra is a 500 seat space, so I’m working hard up there.
Joy – If you haven’t done it already, what is your dream role, and with what director?
Sheridan – Ohhh, god I never know what to say about that! Who wouldn’t want to do a Tennessee Williams – it’s so iconic, but I really love writing shows for myself – like a total narcissist and it’s when those shows get to happen and get support that I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
Joy – Has anyone ever written a role specifically for you?
Sheridan – Oooh, I don’t thinks so…
Joy – And what’s next for you?
Sheridan – I get a week off when I am going to sit around and kiss my dog and I’m really excited about that and then I’m going to Adelaide to do a re-mount of a show for Windmill Theatre Company called ‘Girl Asleep’ after which I will go to sleep for many, many months!
A big thank-you to Sheridan for taking the time to chat and also recording our interview when tech problems struck me, for more information about Prima Facie which is starting at the Riverside Parramatta this week, and tickets see: https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/prima-facie/