28 March 2011

August: Osage County - "One of the great plays of our time."

Taking time from rehearsing Circa’s mammoth 35th anniversary production, August: Osage County, former Shortland Street actor Laura Hill tells drama on the waterfront all about this “epic family story”.

DOTW: Please tell us about August: Osage County; what is the basic story?

LH: On a stinking hot August day in Oklahoma, Beverly Weston, award-winning poet, world-class alcoholic, and patriarch of the Weston family, goes missing ... In the following days, his family gathers at the family home where his wife Violet now presides, and more than a few skeletons are rattled from their closets. It's an epic family story, but very recognisable and very funny (in a kind of dark and twisted way).

DOTW: What is your role? How do you feel about your character?

LH: I play Karen, the youngest daughter of Beverly and Violet Weston.  She hasn't been home for a long time, but is here now and has some big news to share.  She's great to play, and a real contrast to the other characters. I feel very affectionate towards her – she's relentlessly positive, but very deluded.

DOTW: August: Osage County is a huge production – are there any particular challenges to being part of such a large show?

LH: Getting everyone together in the same room for rehearsals!  Sue (Wilson, our director) has been doing something of a jigsaw puzzle with the schedule to make sure we have the right people for the right scene there at the right time. We've got a fantastic cast though, so the audiences will be in for a real treat when they see thirteen actors on stage.

DOTW: What can you tell us about your fellow cast members?

LH: They're awesome. I have to single out Jennifer Ludlam, because her character, Violet, is the real lynch-pin of the show, and Jennifer does a simply outstanding job.  I missed the ATC production, which Jen was also in, so I consider it a real privilege to be able to work with her on this production.

DOTW: What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal period thus far?

LH: It's great working on such a richly-textured play, but for sheer comic value, I loved this moment the other day when Sue was giving us notes after a run through: one of the actors said, “I'm like a little onion with all my layers”, to which Sue replied, “Just put on the outer layer again.”  Brilliant.

DOTW: Finally, what do audiences need to know about this show?

LH: They need to know that if they miss this, they will kick themselves and forever after regret not seeing a performance of one the great plays of our time.  No pressure.

August: Osage County opens 2 April and runs until 7 May, with a $25 Preview on Friday, 1 April and a $25 Special on Sunday, 3 April.  To book your tickets, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or go online at www.circa.co.nz.

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