Johnny Carr on playing ‘everybody else’ in ‘The Events’

Johnny Carr takes on a challenging role in Black Swan Theatre Company’s production of David Greig’s play The Events.

Appearing opposite Catherine McClements he plays everybody else in the play about an unfathomable tragedy.  From lesbian girlfriends, to grief counselors, confused parents and the plays nemesis – a young man at the centre of a horrific massacre, he plays them all.

The duo have performed the play before, but after a break returning to the play is, one some levels, a process of starting all over again for the actors. OUTinPerth chatted to Johnny Carr during the shows rehearsal period.

Is it a challenge from an acting point of view to perform so many characters?

It is a challenge, it’s funny. I think a lot of actors would have gone ‘Oh, this is my opportunity to put on fifty different hats and do the whole thing.’ But for me I was interested in how subtle those shifts can be with something like this.

Although I do play all these different characters, it is always framed through Claire the protagonist. It’s all from the perspective of her her vision of this guy who is responsible for the atrocities. So it is him, the thread is always him.

It’s great, it’s such a wonderful play. It’s such a joy to come back to it after a couple of years.

What has stuck with you since you last performed it last time?

happens when you leave a show, there’s like a sediment of ideas. Suddenly your thinking, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t think of that last time, there’s something about time that allows you fresh perspectives. It’s opened it up in different ways.

When you come back to a play do you remember it or do you have to learn the whole text all over again?

Surprisingly you do remember it. With Clare Watson the director of this show we did What Rhymes With Cars and Girls, which was a play with songs based on Tim Rodgers album – which he was he was in. Without relearning it, it’s just amazing what your body does and your mind does. You start, and because you’ve already done it seventy times in the past, something just kicks in and you kind of know the next line, and the next line.

And then some of it you just don’t remember, and you find yourself going ‘Where was I for this bit?’ It’s surprising how much of it comes back.

It’s a play with a really serious topic at its heart, is that part of what attracted you to it in the first place?

I think it talks about it in a way that sheds fresh light on this subject. It’s about  amass shooting, it’s a a horrible act that we all grapple with. Why would this happen? Why would somebody do something like this? It does get into all that, but its also about how do we as a society come back from that? How do we not be intimidated, and find hope, and find humanity.

I don’t think it comes to a conclusion, I think it just throws up so many different questions. He’s such an articulate writer and it’s so rich with ideas. It was really exciting to get involved with it.

What is you love about this role? 

There’s just something abut this play that is just so grass roots in its approach. Its so simple in a way, its just two actors and a choir, and the voice. Its a bit like a community show, it’s got a really community feel to it.

I think that’s the appeal, that you don’t need huge projections and audio visual stuff to make great theatre. There’s something in this, it’s feet are very solidly planted on the earth. Here are the ideas, here are the voices and it just serves them up. There’s something so humble about that which is so appealing.

Most plays are a little different each night they are performed, but this one really is different each night because a different local choir takes part, how does that element change your performance?

It’s kind of the perfect thing for a performer, everyone always talks about ’being different every show’ and ‘finding the truth in every moment’. You want to do that as an actor and I think everyone sets out to try and do that.

When there’s one show you so and there’s fifty elderly people singing and the next night it’s an all-girls private school choir, just what you’re hearing is so different, the information, the stimulus is so different.

It’s great it makes you listen more, that’s what everyone bangs on about as actors ‘you’ve just got to listen.’ So for someone to do that job for you it’s perfect.

Black Swan State Theatre Comapny’s production of The Events is on until 8th July at the State Theatre Centre. Read OUTinPerth’s review and book tickets to see the show.    

Graeme Watson, image: Daniel J Grant


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