Paul Andrew managed five “almost apocalyptic” minutes during rehearsals of Martin Crimp’s play The City with resident Red Stitch actor Dion Mills and Director Adena Jacobs.

The City | Red StitchWhat inspired you to become an actor?
Dion: I wasn't inspired, rather the opposite. I'd rather be anything else (…it's so humiliating as a vocation), but I can't be. I can't see the point of being, however playwrights (and other authors of fiction too) try to make sense of the senseless (…well, the more interesting ones do), so why not lend oneself to their quest (…if one's not brave enough to make an early exit…)?

Something we don’t know about you being an ensemble member of Red Stitch?
Dion: That it became an end in itself, not a means to something else.

Highlight so far?
Dion: Lending myself to Martin Crimp and a few other playwrights too.

Greatest challenge?
Dion: Lending myself to Martin Crimp & a few other playwrights (…plus labouring in a car wash for 12 years and counting to make that loan possible).

Playwrights who enthrall you?
Dion: Those, like Crimp, that ask why we bother (…and thrill me by the way they ask…).

Okay, a snapshot of The City?
Dion: The director's note 'There is no fire. They are not sitting.' (…which contradicts the words of a character)?

What do you know about Crimp?
Dion: Not much, except he translates, engendered children (…why?...), and attended Cambridge University (...and a minor public school - founded in 1619 - also attended by Michael Ondaatje).
Adena: Martin Crimp is a British playwright who has been associated with the school of ‘ín ya face’ theatre, although he would reject that definition. He has had seven shows produced at the Royal Court, and was a resident writer in 1997. He is known for his intricate, rhythmic dialogue which casts a bleak eye on contemporary, Western society. Red Stitch has been a major advocate for his work – The City is the third show by Crimp to have appeared as part of the company’s season.

What do you love about this play?
Adena: That it doesn't shy away from being horribly, funnily, true.

Is the city in The City true, or is it a metaphor?
Dion: Suck it and see...
Adena: The ‘city’ refers both to an actual urban location, and to a metaphoric, interior landscape. For me, the ‘city’ represents a manmade construction which at any moment might collapse like a deck of cards.

And Chris, your character, what’s his story?
Dion: Chris & his wife Clair (she's a translator who'd rather write novels of her own) are regular Mr. & Mrs. Red-Stitch-Attendees.

What do you feel the director is teasing out of Crimp’s text?
Dion: Ask Adena. I'm not a director (...nor do I want to be).
Adena: Directing Martin Crimp’s work has been a pleasure and a challenge. His language is incredible beautiful, but also very demanding for the actor, and so it has been a wonderful process to observe how the show has grown over the past few weeks.

Anything funny happen during rehearsals?
Dion: Nothing except Crimp.
Adena: A tree fell on the theatre during our first preview.

What do you enjoy most about performing at Red Stitch?
Dion: That it's the best (…even when worst) that I've done.
Adena: For an independent director, the opportunity to work with Red Stitch is a very exciting one. Outside of a mainstream theatre context, it is rare to be able to direct without having to produce the work yourself. I have also been an admirer of Red Stitch’s work since the company began in 2002.

The City by Martin Crimp opens at Red Stitch, Friday September 3, 2010. Details»

Image Credits:-
Top Right - Meredith Penman, Dion Mills, Fiona MacLeod. Photo - Gemma Higgins-Sears
Cover - Meredith Penman, Fiona MacLeod, Dion Mills. Photo - Gemma Higgins-Sears

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