Actor-turn-director Madeline Withington’s directorial debut production Much Ado is set to play at Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville from July 26 to August 13.
We sat down with Withington in the lead up to the show to hear all about her foray into directing, where her production company, Attractive, Not Model Attractive got its name, and of course her favourite wine.
Why launch your own theatre company, and where did the name Attractive, Not Model Attractive come from?
Attractive, Not Model Attractive came about after my friend, Halloway Jones and I were talking about wanting to do a Shakespeare together. Then we thought, well why wait to be cast in one, when we could simply just do it ourselves? And on top of that, do it our way? So we decided to start a company, not just for Shakespeare, for any work that excites us, that we might not get a chance to do otherwise. The name came after hours of yelling dumb ideas at each other, and we fixed on this because it’s a phrase we get in casting calls a lot. We’re Inner West 10s, but Bondi 5s.
You say your love of the performing arts theatre is ‘genetic’. Tell me more about your upbringing with two actors as parents.
Hahahaha, yes I did say that. It’s true though, growing up with two actor parents, you can’t escape the performance in everything, and the stories in everything. Plus, mum and dad have such diverse interests in film styles and art,I got really comprehensive exposure to different ways of telling stories. After that, I don’t know that I could have chosen any other path.
You’ve acted in many things but in Much Ado, you’ve taken the Director’s chair. What has this experience been like?
It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s been a huge learning curve, and I have even more respect for directors now, oh my god, but it’s been incredibly rewarding. Something I really love about it is how it opens up the options for performance. As an actor, I have only myself as a way to tell a story. As a director, I now have 12 incredible actors, with all these amazing talents, that bring moments to life in ways I myself never could. I love that.
What is the one thing you want the audience to take away with them after seeing Much Ado?
An overwhelming, irresistible urge to tell their friends to see it.
Seriously though, I just want people to have fun, and laugh, and feel a little lighter in some way. If people walk out slightly less anxious or stressed, that’s a huge achievement, something I’d be very proud of. Everything that has gone into the process of this show has been about joy, and I want that to be passed on.
What do you love most about Sydney’s theatre scene? What could be improved?
I love the persistence of it most. I love seeing people making their own stuff, and continuing to do so, again and again, because they can’t stop. There’s a lot that could be improved, but while I can point it out, I can’t begin to tell you how to fix it. I’d love for people in indie theatre to not have to be working 3 jobs while in a show that they might get 100 bucks for. I’d love for ticket prices across the board to be accessible, but that’s completely contrary to my former point. I can throw stones, but I can’t fix the house.
What is your favourite wine?
I’m normally a red drinker, but something I’ve been going back to again and again is Gee Gee, from See Saw wines. It’s a skin contact Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, and there’s something very fun about it.