Three weeks ago, Tamicah did an interview with the Next of Kin cast and crew. Next of Kin was formed in the casts and crews’ final year of uni and is about a funny and heartfelt view on mother-daughter relationships.
Due to a scheduling issue, the interview is only now getting posted. Even though the shows for the play have already been performed, please still check out this wonderful interview with the cast and crew, as it’s still very fulfilling and interesting.
Tamicah Rasmussen: Hello! Thank you all so much for chatting with me this evening! To start, can you please give me a short bio about the team and what the play is about?
Lily Moon (writer, co-director, also plays Lorraine): So, we’re Next of Kin and we formed a little company called For the Girls Productions. We started in our final year of uni, with an all-female cast and crew, and we really wanted to show a story that was in line with that, but was also funny and heartfelt. And we settled on mother-daughter relationships, which is what Next of Kin is about. And so, this is the new iteration that no one’s ever seen before. I’m very excited about it.
Georgia also made a survey last year to get more of an idea for the play and we collected stories from our communities, about people’s relationships with their mother [and] with their siblings, because it’s also a big sibling dynamic with the three main mothers of the play. They’re all siblings. So, it’s a big family mushed together. We did get all that nice tension from it so it’s really nice that it’s been informed from stories by our community.
Kirsten Penlington (costume designer, also plays Laura): We also had a lot of time in our early rehearsals of first making it of just like sitting around and discussing moments about what your mother does, and you’re like, cringe, and that’s relatable. We were like, “yeah, this is what we do, this is what our mothers do.” And it was very nice to get out that information from other people and what their family relationships are also like.
Nikki Weyer (costume designer, also plays Evie): It was also very much inspired by like Ladybird, and Fleabag. So, I remember when we all actually first sat down as a group in one of our workshops for uni and the group really came together but we were all like, “Oh, how cool would it be to explore things like Ladybird and Fleabag? What if we did something like that?” It rarely happens in the creative process, where a group will come together like that and you immediately all attach onto one idea. We all kind of had the individual thought and that was really interesting because that very rarely happens when you’re all creatives. That’s something really special I think, and it doesn’t happen a lot.
Tamicah: What are your top tips for your industry?
Georgia Reynolds (marketing, also plays Josie): It’s very much about knowing people and I honestly don’t think if we had gotten on as well as we did, we definitely wouldn’t be doing this show again outside of uni. We were very lucky that we got approached by Backdock to put this show on because otherwise, I don’t know where else we would do our show.
Lily: I think to be in this industry, you have to have developed your social skills very well. You need to be able to work with people who you normally wouldn’t even have in your friend groups because you’re from different parts of life, and you do different things, but you come together to create this one thing. And as Georgia said, and everyone else will tell you, we’re very lucky that we’re all friends in this group. But you need to be willing to collaborate with everyone and learn from everyone. And I think in our group especially, Zara and I as co-directors really focussed on having a less structural hierarchy. As traditional forms of theatre, you’d have the director who makes all the decisions, and you follow their vision and everything to a tea. But we wanted it to be really collaborative, so everyone had input in story form and story content, the way things looked, and how we presented them. And it was really good and I think we actually got our best work from that process.
Zara Chandler (co-director, also plays Pam): I think another thing in the industry that’s really important is getting your name out there and making sure people know about the shows that you’re putting on. We’ve got Georgia doing our marketing and just getting the show’s name out there has been so great. We’ve sold tickets to people that none of us know, and I think marketing is a huge thing when you’re putting on a theatre show or anything like that. Putting the word out there that it exists, so people can come see it, and having the proper bio and information about the show and making it as enticing and interesting as possible so people buy tickets is important.
Nikki: I think it’s maybe not so much about the connections, because I know some people used to work with Vena Cava and other external drama clubs, but I think the harder you work, the luckier you get is really a good synopsis for what our production was. I mean, our schedules did not work in the last semester. It was notorious for being awful. We had like, I think two or three rehearsals in a week, and we all made it work. We just worked really hard, and I don’t think it was maybe about the connections that we knew. At least in the early stages, I think it was just a lot of hard work and dedication that really put this production together.
Liam Miles (producer): Speaking like an outsider from the original group whose kind of coming in later, I definitely think one of the biggest reasons for the success of this group is really consistent creative practice, even when they’re not actively in a show. Most of the people here are helping out with other shows or they’re writing just for themselves, working on screenplays, working on theatre plays, and just consistently staying active in their creative field so that they don’t get rusty. They don’t get complacent and everyone’s willing to always reach out and help lift the people around them, which creates tons of opportunities in the creative industries.
Tamicah: Who would you say your inspiration is? Life wise and art wise?
Georgia: My first inspiration was my mum. She gave me the push I needed to move to Brisbane to do drama, which wasn’t an easy decision for either of us. Though she lives here now, and she supports me every single day. My second inspiration is my partner, Liam. Even while he was studying as well, he always motivates me to keep going and keep trying my best. He and my mum are always front row of every show. I don’t know where I’d be without them, honestly. And my third inspiration is probably my high school drama teacher, Luke. He was always very honest about what a life in the arts was like but never doubted that I could do it.
Lily: Stealing Georgia’s answer completely here, but for me personally, my drama teacher in high school was one of the first people in my life to be like, “you’ve got something here and you need to follow it”. My mum also said that there’s something more here than just performing and really pushed me to start writing my own stuff. I’ve always been a performer, having big elaborate theatre productions in my lounge room, which drove my parents insane, but they loved it, I’m sure. But without these people in my life who said, “you know, maybe if you’re getting bored putting on other people’s stories, it’s time to start telling your own” and so I did. With Next of Kin, I’ve been able to write two versions of it and I really enjoyed it, even though I have many mental breakdowns, especially when writing monologues but I’m hoping everyone likes what I’ve written for them. And I’m hoping everyone who comes to see it will be able to relate to it, find it funny, and to finally prove those boys in my fifth-grade class wrong, and prove that women are funny.
Zara: Obviously it starts with family, like my dad bought me all my first instruments which really gave me my first creative outlet into music. And then my mum and dad both put me into drama classes when I was about ten and that just fully let me endorse my passion kind of thing, they’ve always supported me which has been great. And my next inspiration is not my drama teacher, but my high school geography teacher. I loved him to death; he was always so great. I would tell him what I wanted to do, and he was like, “yeah, fucking do it!” He was such a big support for me, one of the biggest I had throughout high school, which was great. And then the third inspiration I have is just everyone I’ve worked with to this point; like in shows and all the directors I’ve had have inspired me to direct because I didn’t know I wanted to do that until I got to uni. And then yeah, other people I’ve acted with, everything just has inspired me to keep going kind of thing.
Noah Milne (technical producer): I always find a lot of inspiration in like small details of life. I love being innovative and trying to put that into shows, which I’ve done something this show where we have sort of like a pre-show, post show aesthetic of a sunrise coming in a window. I always love small details within life, and when watching movies, I’m always like, “how can I put that onto stage? And like being really innovative with that?”
Lauren Hopgood (set designer, also plays Amelia): I would say the same thing; family, especially because I have an older brother whose [got an] OP 1 and an engineer and then you know, I come along, and I’m like, “I want to do art.” I didn’t really even need an OP and all that other stuff, and my parents were still able to accept that even though it was kind of hard at first. It’s nice that I had their blessing. And similar to a drama teacher, but not a drama teacher, would be David, my unit coordinator. I feel like there’s a lot of times that I so easily could have just given up or been a lot more stressed out but then he was able to help us. The way he teaches, he’s not like reading from a PowerPoint, he’s just telling life stories, giving life guidance, advice, and stuff. And he always pushed us in the right direction.
Kirsten: I feel like it was my dad who really let me pursue arts because, as much as I love my mum, she’s very strict. She’s like, “get a good job and when you’re in high school study proper things.” And I’m like, “this makes me absolutely miserable,” but my dad was very the one who’s like, “do art, you’re very good at it and it’s what you want.” And as much as I loved my drama teachers in high school—Mr. Ashton let me scuff his shoes every lesson—I’d have to say my dance teacher is actually an inspiration. Miss Wallace was so listening and fun and it just made me really optimistic to go into her class. She was also the same teacher who told me I looked good if I shaved my head, so that was a big ego boost. She was really the one who’s like, “you’re really good at performing and you do stand out.” I really feel like she was one who really inspired me outside of my family.
Ella Dickson (set designer, also plays Michelle): I was always a quiet kid, hence not saying anything until now. I randomly decided one day, when I was a kid, that I would just be in a musical. My parents were like, okay, we’ll take you to all these rehearsals, and we’ll let you do this” and once I did it, they were like, “what the hell, that wasn’t our kid on stage, that was someone else.” And I think ever since then, I’ve used it as I don’t want to say therapy, but it’s been a way of like escapism. For acting, you can get out and I don’t know, be a different person for a little bit. But my other inspiration other than my parents is my grandma. All my aunties and my entire family were like, “this is not a good thing you should be doing,” and they’re still like that but my grandma has always been the one saying “no, just do what your heart wants.” My last inspiration would be my religion teacher. I was good friends with him, but he wanted me to be a philosopher and I said, “fuck, no!” I was like, “you know, I’m going to prove you wrong and I’m going to do well in drama.”
Tamicah: What’s your process? How do you begin memorizing your lines? Do you have any different techniques?
Nikki: So, the way that I memorise lines is if you have a start of a line, so one of my lines is like, “I turn 19 next year and I’m a Scorpio before you ask.” And then for the next line, it’s kind of thinking, “I’m a Scorpio” and then thinking like, “Scorpio, what does mum hate? Astrology.” So, it’s kind of leading on from the end of the line and then picking up why that next sentence finds a relation somehow. Or how like a beat, or the line changes and that’s how I kind of go off. So, it’s not like looking at the whole thing and then memorising a whole chunk. It’s like breaking it down into bite sized pieces and finding ways how one either end of the sentence links to another. I find that’s a really easy way. You hear this so much in the industry, but actually like listening to what the other person is saying, when you actively stop, get out of yourself and what your next line is, and listen to what the other actors saying, you find that it’s so much easier. It becomes like muscle memory, where you say your lines. That, I find, is the biggest technique.
Zara: For me, apparently, I just love the sound of my own voice because when I have dialogue to learn, I’ll just record myself saying all the other people’s lines and then leave a little break so then when I play it back, I just say my lines back and forth to myself. And then with monologues, I’ll just record myself saying the monologue and I’ll just say it with myself and then if I get it wrong, I’m like, “okay, back to the start.” I’ll be like sitting on the train or something and be whispering my lines to myself and all the people around me are like “what’s going on?” I think I just need to constantly be repeating it and listen to myself say other people’s lines, which is so odd because if I got someone else to read lines with me, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it as well. I just need to listen to myself apparently.
Kirsten: For monologues or like really long bits of dialogue, what I found that works for me is writing the first letter of each word down. So, it’s like just a bunch of letters and then when I’m practicing, I’m only reading the letters. So, I can pick out the words and if there’s a jumble of letters, I’m like, “oh, I don’t know what it is, we just got all these words match up,” and eventually I only just remember the first letters of them, and it just gets ingrained.
Lauren: I’m the exact same as you, Zara. I will record the other lines, leave a gap for me to do the line; or like at the start, do the same thing, leave a gap but then say my line. For monologues, I would just say it over and over, like in traffic or falling asleep because when I struggle to sleep, I just remember, like my Grade Twelve monologue as it was something I said over and over. So that’s what I do.
Ella: I colour code. So, if each line is like purple, in my head I’ll know what that line is. It’s kind of like photographic, I don’t know. Sometimes I run out of colours, but I have a lot of pens, so I usually get around that. But yeah, that’s pretty much what I do and then I just say it over and over again.
Georgia: I kind of got a fucked up one? Do you ever do that thing when you’re in the shower, and you’re thinking about an argument that you had with someone, and you think about all the things you could have said and then you just sort of start saying them out loud? That’s kind of what I do with my monologue or my lines. I’ll be having a conversation with myself in the shower, and it will start off with my lines and then it will just devolve into improv. Like I’m Josie, having a conversation with Laura, and it’s like, “No mum, I really am getting a divorce!” So yeah, I will have a conversation with the wall as though the wall is somebody else and I’ll pretend to have an argument with myself, it’s very helpful.
Lily: Well, mine is a little different and very singular to this character, Lorraine. She’s obsessed with the queen and everything royal, well not everything because she hates Charles. So, I literally put God Save the Queen on my lounge room speakers, I got a picture of Queen Elizabeth, and I said my lines to my cats, and it will always end on me just like ranting about the queen. And I’m personally not really into the royal family but when I’m there, I’ll die for Queen Elizabeth.
Tamicah: What’s your overall goal for your acting and your performances? Why do you perform and create?
Kirsten: Because it just makes me happy. I love seeing audiences and being like, “yeah, look at me aha!”
Noah: I love being able to create a new world and like very much a sensory experience for the audience. A lot of my other shows; design, gigs, and stuff, is all very stimulating sensory involved. And so yeah, I’ve been able to create that life aspect.
Zara: I think for me, it’s getting to send messages to people and audience through these characters. Just being able to convey the things I feel, my beliefs, and just like the things I love to other people through this new world and getting to create new worlds with these characters. Another thing I love to do in shows is once audiences leave a theatre, I love to hear them questioning what they just saw, questioning themselves or get other interpretations off the show they just saw. I think that’s something that really inspires me to keep going and something I want to do throughout my career. I just like being able to make people happy, you know?
Lauren: I don’t know if I’ll be able to say this right but like obviously as someone in arts, I’ll watch a play or watch a movie and I’ll be thinking out of it. Like, I will say to myself, “I wonder if they do this differently? Or how many takes that took? Or how they pan the camera?” I won’t be actually watching the movie, whereas my brother who just properly watches a movie, is like “yeah, that’s a good movie,” he won’t think about the details or anything. So then if I can see a play or watch a movie and I’m just fully in it and not thinking about it as a production, that’s really good. So, I want to create that for other people so that when they watch something, they’re not just watching a play on stage but they’re actually in the world and not thinking about anything else.
Nikki: I think I’m like a horrifically existential person. I’ve been super existential since I was a kid and I always have the feeling like I’m running out of time. I always feel like I’m never doing enough. And the biggest fear I felt as a child was not being able to do everything I wanted in my life. And with acting, the super sick thing about being an actor is that you can literally be anything you want, you can literally walk on a set and pretend to be a doctor or something. You can pretend to be an assassin or whatever cool thing that I as a child would feel super fulfilled by. And I think for a lot of my life, I was also told I can’t do it, because I’m not good enough at acting or whatever. But I think it’s proving it to myself and just having a lot of fun with it. I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else and I feel like a lot of people would feel that way too. In some ways, it feels like a destiny in a way of like, “this is what I’m meant to do.” But I think it’s just a really good way to just explore different aspects of yourself through other characters and just to create something believable, to be entertained, and to entertain. I think that’s just what a good chunk of it is about.
Tamicah: What’s the most difficult aspect of acting?
Lily: I think for someone who doesn’t actually do a lot of acting and is more so writing, I see people act a lot of the time and I think the most difficult thing is to make it real and make it not a performance, even though it is a performance. It’s especially cool to go through the rehearsal process and you see that up until a certain point, there’s people who are learning lines and not bumping into the furniture, which is a very famous quote from someone I don’t know aha. And then you have this breakthrough moment where they’re saying the lines that I’ve written, I’ve lived with these characters in my head for almost two years now and then I see that character from my head on stage and it’s a great moment. It’s very difficult to do, but everyone here has done it, amazingly and I’m very proud of everyone.
Zara: I think specifically in this production for me, it was so hard for me at the start to actually connect with the character. I was struggling so much; I think I was in my head, and I was so focussed on directing that I was really struggling to connect. My character is a mum and I’m not a mum so, it was a little bit harder for me to connect with her. I was trying to do my monologue, and it just wasn’t hitting. I was getting really stressed and kept thinking, “what is wrong? Why can I do it?” I was beginning to doubt myself, which is a huge thing with acting; you start to doubt yourself if you can’t get something straight away. But then we had one rehearsal, and I just fucking did it. It’s kind of just putting in that work with other people to try and get that character and once we did that rehearsal, I was like, “there she is, I found her.” But I think yeah, one of the hardest things for me, I do it every single time I act is the doubt that comes with it. Like, “oh, I can’t do this” and then there’s one rehearsal that happens like, mid-show, mid-production week most times and I’m like, “oh, I can do this!”
Kirsten: Going off with what Zara said, especially me in this performance, I’m trying to portray a character that I cannot relate to in real life. In the show right now, I’m playing the eldest sister and in real life, not only am I the youngest sister, but I’m also the youngest child. So, I’ve never grown up with that kind of maternal instinct of taking care of others. So, when I’m trying to portray my character, I’m like, “do I feel like an eldest sister, am I betraying her correctly? Or am I just a bitch?”
Lily: Both can be true!
Liam: As a younger brother to an older sister, both is good.
Kirsten: But that’s really how I felt. Especially because my character is super religious. It’s not like super put out there but you can notice it and I’ve never grown up religious. So, I’m like, where’s the line? Where am I supposed to cross of being in character, or being a stereotype or whatever? So yeah, it’s hard to get into that mindset of somebody you’ve never felt or grown up with.
Noah: This is kind of away from your question, but I always find it interesting that going through a production—especially for actors and I guess the whole team—is that you research and develop these characters in the place of like, time periods, and that you end up with such a depth of education about your play. I don’t know. It’s a rare job that you’ve learned so much for a 90-minute show.
Tamicah: Lastly, how can people connect with you and watch this play?
Georgia: We have three major social media platforms. We are on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok, all the same username, which is “The next of kin show”. We are also affiliated with Backdock Arts. So, if you jump on to their website, we will be on there as well. We are performing on the 12th to the 14th of May, and we have three evening shows all starting from 6:30pm from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Tamicah Rasmussen is a twenty-three-year-old writer. She writes short stories and novels with varying themes, but the one thing they all have in common, is romance. Tamicah’s most loved form of writing, however, is poetry, in the styles of free verse, villanelles and, sometimes, ballads. Her lifetime goal is to have her own poetry book and novel published. When Tamicah isn’t writing, she’s reading romance and fantasy novels, or playing cosy video games with her cats close by.