Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye has proved a welcome challenge to cast members, Emilio Iannucci and Jo Mousley.
Emilio, who plays Johnnie, was excited to delve into Fugard’s demanding work.
“It seems Fugard was overshadowed by the likes of Stoppard and Pinter on my bookshelf growing up. It’s really exciting to see Fugard trending once more on the theatre circuit. He is a fantastic writer who wields thought process masterfully. It’s going to be some of the mightiest but most rewarding work I’ve had to do on stage.”
The biggest challenge for Emilio? “To keep up with Fugard’s speed of thought whilst maintaining the sense of truth. This play will be like spinning many plates at once. I can’t wait.”
Fugard’s work wasn’t very familiar to Jo, who plays Hester, either.
“I hadn’t read Hello and Goodbye prior to John (the director) asking me to have a look at it. My knowledge was pretty limited. I knew of Athol Fugard’s work as a political playwright in South Africa.”
When asked what the biggest challenge of the play, Jo says, “Not sure there is a ‘biggest’ challenge. I would say, it is all a challenge, in the best way!”
Set in apartheid-era South Africa, how has the cast got on with learning the accent?
“With it being an accent that isn’t in my ears on a regular basis, it’s been a new world of speech patterns” says Jo. “I’ve had to learn a completely new rhythm of speech and sound placement.”
“Everyone has their own process,” says Emilio. “I’ve spent a lot of time listening to recordings or watching interviews and then reading the text till things feel like they start to fit. Especially with this accent, you can really feel when it is working.”
Emilio is no stranger to our Studio. Back in 2017, he was tracking down and documenting various species of dragons in our adaptation of E. Nesbit’s The Book of Dragons. “I am actually slightly nervous to be returning, rumour has it that one of them still resides in the foyer…”
Hello and Goodbye is the first time Jo has acted in the Studio, but she has come to see work in the space. “I saw Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down, directed by John – it is an exquisite play and the performances, design and direction were so beautifully honest – it stayed with me for days so I wrote to John to tell him how much I loved it.”
She played Sarah in our 2013 co-production of Blood + Chocolate with Pilot Theatre and Slunglow, which was “very special for lots of reasons. It had a huge heart due to the incredible community cast.”