The IGNITE Collective is an innovative enterprise by New Ghosts Theatre Company that joins emerging and established female playwrights and creatives, to create new work for female performers. Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, a Helpmann nominee for her role in Counting & Cracking at the Belvoir, is one of several female actors appearing. Vaishnavi took the time out for a quick interview prior to the show starting.
Joy – Which story do you appear in next week of the four plays?
Vaishnavi – I’ll be performing Joan by the inimitable Natesha Somasundaram. Joan is a delirious new two hander about a search for moral absolution. It blends cosmic surrealism with the banalities of modern reality. There’s a soldier and a lobster and I think that’s all I’ll say for now to leave you intrigued and in anticipation for our Scratch Night. But who doesn’t want to see a play with a lobster in it?!
Joy – I am looking forward to the shows, Artistic Director Lucy Clements doesn’t shy away from difficult material, but tackles it head on. How has working with the collective been?
Vaishnavi - Though we are in the early stages of the Collective’s journey, it has already been so inspiring and exciting. Lucy and producer Loredana have assembled a powerful all-female team across the cast and crew, and each member has such refreshing ideas and vibrant perspectives. The vibe is celebratory and affirming and open-minded.
What I love about the Collective is that it’s providing opportunities for young female actors to explore and further their craft in meaningful, meaty roles (begone, ingénue!) in a professional and safe context. And while these plays do deal with difficult material at times, they’re actually simply a reflection and investigation into quite common human experiences. We’re not encrusted with the old ways of telling stories, of making theatre, or seeing what people can be. There’s enough safe, polite theatre in the world. It’s time to get a bit messier if we are to grapple with the state of our world – and our humanity – and try and make sense of it.
Joy - Congratulations on your Helpmann nomination, will you go to Melbourne to attend?
Vaishnavi - Thank you very much. I will be going along if I can get away from rehearsal! As little as two years ago, it wouldn’t have even occurred to me that something like Counting and Cracking would be considered for Australian mainstage theatre. So I’m very proud of the production and deeply appreciative to everyone who contributed to it. I hope that it’s a catalyst that will leapfrog the Australian theatre industry along in the right direction.
Joy - What is your dream role, and with what director (alive or dead)?
Vaishnavi - Ah, that’s a hard question! I guess one role I would love to play, when I’m ready, is Marianne from Constellations by British playwright Nick Payne. In terms of directors generally, film directors like Jane Campion and Asghar Farhadi come to mind.
Joy - What is next for you?
Vaishnavi - I’m probably going rock climbing after this! But work-wise, I’m in rehearsals at the moment for Life of Galileo at Belvoir (two of my passions – space and acting – together at last!). Then I’m swapping Galileo’s study for a cosmetics start-up in White Pearl for STC/Riverside.
A big thank-you to Vaishnavi, and for more information on The Ignite Collective and tickets see: https://newghoststheatre.com/scratch-night-kxt/