By Judith Greenaway.
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Kick McKinnon and Nate Sammut are currently in rehearsal for King of Pigs from Critical Stages Touring and Red Line Productions. The play opens its national tour at Glen Street Theatre on February 24. Kick and Nate are sharing the role of The Boy in a play written by Steve Rodgers and directed by Blazey Best. The two young actors will be sharing the stage with Sam Alhaje, Jason Chong, Kate Skinner, Tom Stokes and Anthony Yangoyan.
As I am working backstage on the Sydney season of the play, we are able to bring readers a unique insight series. How does a young artist prepare for a role? At rehearsal last Saturday, I grabbed some time with Kick; and this week I spoke with actor Nate Sammut about his impression about playing the role in front of an audience.
In the large airy warehouse space, Kick’s day began, as did mine, with a RAT and after the all-clear he was with Jason and Kate and Blazey for a table read. As I watched, the boy who I had been chatting with about soccer and going into Year 6 at school, changed in front of me. He was slumped and looked bored and then, suddenly, he was alert. That’s it, says the director, that’s when The Boy chooses to engage. In this way, the scene takes shape while they are sitting at the table, and then it’s time to move it.
Kick asks really smart questions and seems to take direction with ease. When should I get up, he asks, and is given a ‘let’s see’ by the director. Blazey then gets Kick to try it however he likes until he finds a place that is comfortable. Later she asks Kick to explore when he will look up at his dad and ‘can you show me a different way for him to do that?’
Having been too excited to eat his sandwich during the break and just opting for his banana, Kick and I had a chat as he munched on his delayed snack after his rehearsal. Kick tells me he loves his name, which was given to him by his sister, and that this is his first professional engagement though there are several theatre people in his family.
Judith: Were you nervous coming into first rehearsal.
Kick: Not really nervous today, but I am really nervous. More about opening night than anything in particular.
Judith: What was the best part about today?
Kick: I loved getting to know everybody and it was really exciting.
Judith: So now that you have started rehearsals, did today change what you thought about the play?
Kick: Yes it did. I had my mum and my dad in the play here. When I was reading the script and rehearsing, I was on my own and wasn’t acting it out, just saying it.
Judith: I could see those relationships with Kate and Jason growing during the day.
Kick: Jason’s really cool and showed me pictures of his kids when we were on our break and Kate was really fun when we were planning out the tickling.
Judith: You did so much work today even though it is only two scenes. That tickling is a bit like choreography isn’t it? How do you make that feel real to you as an actor and so to the audience?
Kick: Yeah it is. Well, I have done dance for a few years and done dance performances so that’s easy. But what I do is just feel inside like it is really happening – to believe, like, that Kate is my real mum and that I am just having a giggle and some funny time with my mum.
Judith: So, you can put your head in that space?
Kick: Yes, and when I’m learning lines too. In my time on the script, I will hear my dad say something to me and I will feel, yeah, my next line’s that. So I can’t even say my lines right after each other now, because my lines will go off his.
Judith: And the director asked your opinion a lot today as well … like, what does he think about that? That must help. too?
Kick: Oh yeah, because it makes me think really, inside, how does he think and how does he feel. And, too, why does he feel like this. I take that in and I really think about it.
Judith: You looked like you were really enjoying Blazey’s direction, too. What’s the best piece of advice she gave you today?
Kick: It was really good how she told me about where to be loud and how for the monologue, she broke it into bits. And how she gave me some key words to focus on.
Judith: I was fascinated how Blazey would say take out the comma and put in a full stop, or change an exclamation mark to a question mark.
Kick: Yeah. That really helps a lot. It seems like a small thing but really helps with how you say that sentence or that bit. I think definitely all the stuff I did today I will be able to take forward into my career.
Judith: So what are you going to do before next rehearsal? Go through all the lines I suppose.
Kick: Well, I have to write the palm cards that I will use for the bit where I am practising a speech.
Judith: The character is reading from them, isn’t he?
Kick: Yeah, yeah. And I will have to rehearse all the lines with the new way of saying them and I will also go through the new movements and practise those.
Judith: What about research? Do you know what a boab tree is?
Kick: Yeah, I did that when I got the script. A boab tree is quite big, like the trunk is and the branches don’t come out of it to the side, they grow up from the top.
ABOUT THE PLAY
At 22, on a date on the Gold Coast. At 31, moving into an apartment in Albert Park. Or at 40, happily married with a nine-year-old son living in Campsie. Four very different worlds share an identical space; our homes.
King of Pigs written by Steve Rodgers, and directed by Blazey Best, reveals the nature of power, the way men abuse it, and the lives of the women who live through the lies.
Full tour details can be found on the show page here, or check the links below for your local performances:
24 – 26 February
Glen Street Theatre, Northern Beaches
Frankston Arts Centre
4 – 5 March
Theatre Royal Hobart
Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool
11 – 12 March
Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre
24 – 26 March
Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre