What is your background on the show?
I performed Butterfly in 2008 in London and have always said it's one of the few shows I've done that I'd jump at the chance to do again. Performing Sorrow is a challenge but incredibly emotionally rewarding.
What is your role in this current revival in Perth?
I am puppeteering Sorrow (Madam Butterfly's three year old son), specifically his head and his left hand. I'm also acting as Puppet Captain, which I think means all the puppets in the show have to do exactly what I tell them. It also means I am taking a lead in training our cover puppeteer who is based in Sydney and hasn't worked on the show previously.
What is different for this revival for you?
The main difference for me, is that when I'm not working, I'm spending my time on the beach and in the sun instead of in deepest darkest winter back home. When I do have to leave the beach for rehearsals, I'm performing with a new cast of principle singers, including a new Butterfly. The relationship between her and the puppet in both a character sense and a performer sense is pretty pivotal to what I get out of the show.
What is your favourite thing about the show?
The main reason I'm able to revisit a show like this is because when I'm puppeteering Sorrow, I have to find some emotional connection to him as a character. When he first appears, he is onstage for about 30 minutes, which is physically taxing on my body, but during that time he runs a gamut of emotions and it's incredibly satisfying to play for me as an actor. My favourite moment to play is him looking through the telescope, it's a great exercise in subtlety and nuance.
Who makes the decisions when the puppet moves and how do you work together?
We are all trying to make decisions together this time around. We are well rehearsed and know the blocking, but the thing that keeps it alive in the moment is making offers to each other and not always knowing exactly when something will happen. Every decision the puppet makes is heightened because there are three people making those decisions and it means the performance is intensified. The way we work together involves a lot of rehearsing, discussing, improvising and beer drinking.
What is your favourite scene in the show?
My favourite scene sadly doesn't involve me or any puppets. At the end of act one, Butterfly and Pinkerton are married and it's time to get down to the business of consummation. There's a sort of lengthy sung foreplay between them both as they tussle with who has the power and what their relationship will be. I cry listening to it nearly every time. The music is astounding, especially sang live. It blows my mind that someone was able to express through the sung voice, all the pitfalls and complications of love.