Home' Scoop : Scoop 55 Autumn 2011 Contents 56 SCOOP Autumn 2011
From the catwalk to the stage, Perth
Ward is a star on the rise. We caught
up with her as she prepared for a
role in Perth Theatre Company’s
production of The Ugly One.
When did you develop an interest
When I was about seven, I used to
stage plays at home with my brothers
and sisters. I would make tickets
and have a booth selling them, and
organise the costumes and direction
everything. I think I enjoyed the
spectacle and attention at first. I
always liked to make fun of myself and
make people laugh. But then when I
started to go to acting classes once a
week and work on little secrets and
monologues, I got deeper.
Is it something you’d like to pursue?
Of course. If I lived in another century
I would join a travelling theatre troupe.
Your first forays into film have been
successful. Do you feel pressure to
back that up on stage?
Well no, because the two are so
completely different. Studying
theatre for the last couple of years
has made it clear to me that there is
a completely different set of rules to
theatre than there is to film. I had to
really learn to move and speak on
stage from scratch, and then to really
send that energy out and not keep it
too inwards. I actually think this is
going to be more fun, especially being
a comedy, as we get the audience’s
reaction upfront. But I do hope that
people get that stage is a whole other
ball game, and to go easy on me!
How does it feel to be an ambassador
for Perth Theatre Company?
Perth is so exciting right now. It’s
really great to feel that you are able
to watch a company and a city morph
and change over the years. I hope I am
able to see it grow, and feel like a little
mother to a little chick-y hen.
It’s a strange world we live in, where women fly to
Asia for bargain breast enhancements, or, stranger
still, throw ‘Botox parties’– because nothing
screams ‘fun’ like multiple jabs in the forehead.
This bizarre preoccupation with beauty forms
a backdrop for Perth Theatre Company’s latest
production, The Ugly One. Penned by German
playwright Marius Von Mayenberg, it’s the story of
Lette, whose ‘catastrophic’ face is transformed by
plastic surgery. So great is the result, he becomes an
overnight success, attracting the lust and admiration
of his peers. But Lette soon finds beauty has a sour
side, creating unforeseen problems in his life.
“The play has been translated into a wonderful
English version,” says Perth Theatre Company’s
artistic director Melissa Cantwell. “There’s still a
strong European sensibility, in that it’s quite bold
and mischievous. But conceptually, it’s so relevant
to where we are socially – this obsession with
youth and appearance, it transcends all borders.”
So there’s some irony that the play will feature
Perth-born, internationally renowned supermodel-
turned-actress, Gemma Ward, in her stage debut.
It follows several forays into film for Gemma,
including a critically acclaimed performance in
2008’s The Black Balloon and a recent part in Pirates
of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. “I just couldn’t
think of anyone more perfect to bring not only her
acting skill, but also her incredible perspective on
that world of fashion and beauty,” says Melissa.
Gemma was attracted to the play for its humour
and absurdity. “I find it fascinating how we respond
to our sense of worth through beauty and sexual
attraction. Especially when vanity verges into
mutilation, which today and especially in western
society, I believe is plastic surgery. But in the past...
it was foot binding, neck elongating and the like.”
In The Ugly One, Gemma will perform three
roles, as a wife, a nurse and a 73-year-old woman.
Fellow actors Brendan Ewing, Geoff Kelso
and Benj D’Addario will also flit between parts,
populating the constantly evolving and somewhat
manic world on stage. “The way those roles morph
into each other is really fascinating,” says Melissa.
“It’s a wonderful actor’s piece, in the sense that the
audience actually gets to watch that process.”
Because the roles change so quickly, designs
for costumes and make-up have been left minimal.
This highlights a central theme of perception
in the play, where audiences must look beyond
appearances to gain a sense of character. “It’s
really letting the actors drive it and do the work,
both physically and vocally,” says Melissa. “The
audience actually have to think about what they’re
seeing, and what does it mean if you’re told
someone is hideously ugly – do you believe it?”
Gemma is also an ambassador for Perth Theatre
Company, alongside Perth’s lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi.
The Ugly One, Studio Undergr ound, March 22- April 9,
www.bocsticketing .com .au .
Perth’s most famous beauty export,
Gemma Ward, will star in a cutting-
edge local production about going
under the knife
BEST OF performance
Links Archive Scoop 54 Summer 2010 Scoop 56 Winter 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page