25 July 2011

When the Rain Stops Falling: It is a beautiful play

Actor Richard Chapman returns to Circa for the third time this year (after August: Osage County and The Lead Wait) to take on the 'mesmerizing' Andrew Bovell play, When the Rain Stops Falling. He stops by to tell drama on the waterfront all about his favourite play of the three, and also shares about his time in Japan teaching music and arranging for the Tokyo Philharmonic.

DOTW: What is the basic story of When the Rain Stops Falling?

RC: Set from 1959 to 2039, the story follows four generations of a family and moves between England and Australia. It is an examination of nature versus nurture and the effect we have on our own future through our intentions. Whether knowingly or unknowingly.

DOTW: What can you tell us about your character? What challenges are involved in playing this character?

RC: I play two characters and they are the link between the English side of the family and the Australian side. I play my own grandfather. The older character, Gabriel, leaves his mother in London and travels to Australia to retrace the steps of his father who he hasn’t seen since he was 7. Later, I play the grandson of the Gabriel character who is visiting his father who he also hasn’t seen since he was 7.

Sounds confusing, but that is the beauty of this play. It jumps quickly between generations and countries; which is a convention we are used to seeing in films but not so on stage. Therein lies the challenge; keeping track of where, when, and who I am.

DOTW: What can you tell us about the rest of the cast and director, Sue Wilson?

RC: Having worked with Sue on a few occasions now I’ve noticed that her great strength is casting. This is truly an ensemble piece and the complicit√© of the cast is very important. Sue has once again assembled a great cast each with their own strengths. We all work very well together and there are no egos ruining things. As a director Sue is great at having an in depth understanding of the play as a whole. She knows exactly what is where and who is who, which is really important in a play that jumps around like this one.

DOTW: I understand that you lived in Japan for a few years – what did you do there?

RC: I went over with my wife who was posted there as a NZ diplomat. I had great ideas of doing nothing and being a kept man. Alas, no such concurrence was reached with my wife and I was cruelly thrown into the work force. I tried to get a job as an English teacher like everyone does but apparently the grasp I had of my native tongue wasn’t good enough. Luckily, I happened upon a much better job as a music teacher in The British School in Tokyo. I brought the language of love to children aged 3–18. It was a fantastic place to work and a great job. It took me to several places around Asia and gave me great opportunities to do things I never would have imagined. The thing I’m most proud of doing over there was arranging a couple of pieces that the Tokyo Philharmonic played.

DOTW: What brought you back to New Zealand to take up acting again? Do you have a preference between acting and music?

RC: Our time in Tokyo was always finite. The posting was just 4½ years. I had decided very early on that, despite very much enjoying my job, I didn’t want to continue as a teacher. I was also unable to act in Japan to the degree that I was in NZ prior to leaving. The language was one issue but the main reason was that I just didn’t look like anyone else. I would have been pigeon holed into one area that didn’t appeal to me. My time in Japan teaching music was more of a hiatus from acting. It did, however, rekindle my love for music. I majored in composition at Victoria University and it will always be my first love. I have no preference between the two, acting or music, but for the time being I’m pursuing acting.

DOTW: This will be your third play this year at Circa (after August: Osage County and The Lead Wait); what can audience members expect from When the Rain Stops Falling?

RC: When the Rain Stops Falling is my favourite of the three. The audience can expect to be mesmerized. It is a beautiful play. 

When the Rain Stops Falling opens in Circa One on 30 July, and runs until 27 August. Tickets are available now, call the Circa Box Office at 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz

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