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Theatre Alive: Monday Musings with Mark Diaco

See article in its original context here by Theatre Alive.

Melbourne independent company KIN Collective are gearing up to tackle not one, but three of Martin McDonagh’s brilliant plays in their next season.

The company features an eclectic mix of well-known actors from stage and screen, including the likes of Noni Hazlehurst, Michala Banas, Marg Downey and Keith Brockett.

We managed to nab some time with ensemble member Mark Diaco to chat about rehearsals, great writing, and the perks of working in the independent sector.

The KIN Collective is a fairly young company on the Melbourne Indie scene, tell us a bit about how and why you formed, and previous work?

I don’t know about young, this our third year as a company so as far as indie theatre is concern that would make us veterans I’d say!

In terms of work though, our only previous production to date isGlimpse; a self-devised piece written by the collective. It’s not out of laziness that we have only mounted one production, some of it’s got to do with availability, but I’d say when you have this many creative voices in a group it does tend to take time for a collective voice to submerge, and congeal.

How do you go about choosing the work the company will present?

I guess for us, in a way, it’s all about letting the play speak to us, and ask to be played. We all met in a workshop experience with acting coach Larry Moss, and then it was decided by the group that we should continue on with the quality of work that we’d achieved in those workshops.

So, for about a year following that, we’d catch up and read play after play, seeing which ones kept resonating. This resulted in not one play, but three hat all seemed to fit perfectly; Beauty Queen of LeenaneA Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West.

Three weeks of three Martin McDonagh plays, and then the trifecta on a Sunday. That’s impressive. Which play(s) are you performing in? Did ensemble members have to audition for particular roles? How were the shows cast?

I became attached to The Lonesome West fairly earlier in the game. Some of the roles where earmarked for the actors in the collective.

I guess that’s the perks of having a company; you get first dibs on what’s on the table. We then held auditions over the course of a few days with the directors of each individual play in the room, then invited actors whom’s work we admired. The directors then made the final calls on who played which

Can you give us a brief rundown of each of the upcoming shows in the The Leenane Trilogy?

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a black comedy about a over domineering mother Mag played by Noni Hazlehurst and her spinster daughters (Michala Banas) last chance to escape and pursue romance.

A Skull in Connemara is like this great murder mystery; Mick Dowd is hired to dig up his deceased wife whom he was accused of killing. It’s hilarious stuff.

In The Lonesome West I play Valene. My brother Coleman (James O’Connell) and I have just buried our father, which one of us killed.

So, there you have it; a light-hearted romp!

The writer, Martin McDonagh, has also written and directed the films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. He’s been compared to the like of Edward Albee, Sam Shepard and Quentin Tarantino. His work really is brilliant.

What do you hope audiences will get out of this season of works?

A treat! I walked into a rehearsal of A Skull of Connemara, and those guys are soaking it up. Same as the guys in Beauty Queen of Leenane,they’re really in a great place. It’s such excellent writing, so relevant even for today and relatable in a dark, but funny way. I don’t think anyone sitting in the audience would have a problem identifying with at least one these characters. There’s always one in every family.

What inspires you, and why?

Great writing. Not taking anything away from what an actor can bring to a part, but as whole. Most of the time you’re only as good as what’s on the page.

For film it’s the director that can make or break the film, and on stage it’s really only you and the written word. If you don’t have that on the page, you really got to roll up your selves or else it’s just tricks for treats.

So yeah, great writing on fresh white pieces of paper… that flips my switch.

The Leenane Trilogy plays at fortyfivedownstairs from 28 May to 15 June, 2014.

**Photo credit – Kade Greenland


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