13 February 2012

The Motor Camp: Surf the wave of more than 240 people in a small space letting loose, laughing and genuinely having a good time

You know him from last year’s Circa One show, The Birthday Boy, as well as those Countdown ads, and now Phil Vaughan is inspiring riotous laughter in The Motor Camp. He takes a moment to tell drama on the waterfront all about playing the crass and vulgar Mike Hislop for the second time at Circa.

DOTW: This is your second time playing Mike Hislop in The Motor Camp at Circa; has the experience of playing this character changed for you at all? Have you learned anything new about him the second time around? What do you think of him?

PV: I think playing Mike Hislop a second time round has allowed me to let go and have a lot more fun exploring the boundaries of how far he as a character can go. From the success of last season, we all know the play works and as crass and vulgar as Mike can be it becomes clear to audiences that his heart is in the right place. So this time round knowing that if I keep him grounded with his heart in the right place people will understand him, accept his flaws and let him get away with quite a lot.

I think Mike is a guy who does the best he can with what he’s got and what he’s dealt. He’s very loyal. Mikes the kind of guy that if you get him for a friend he’ll come round and chop ya winter woods for ya if for some reason you couldn’t. Probably ever year till ya leg got better.

Phil Vaughan in The Motor Camp. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
DOTW: What is it like to return to this play after a year? Has the overall play changed at all? Has the approach of the rest of the cast changed?

PV: The play as a piece hasn’t changed much. We have made a couple of changes that some brain time to let things sink in for a year can bring. We knew what worked so if ‘it’s not broke don’t fix it’, but that gives you the freedom to play a lot more and that ‘play’ can be the most creative and great fun choices come out of that. Our approach last year was let’s do it and make it the best we can which is the same as this year except we know it works so we are privileged as a cast this year being able to just trust and play!!

DOTW: What has been your favourite part of your experience in The Motor Camp?

PV: Without a doubt meeting the hundreds of people who have come to see the show who haven’t been to a play before or don’t normally go to live theatre. It’s been fantastic. I myself got in to theatre later in life and I have fallen in love with the medium. I get a special buzz when I meet people who almost didn’t realize theatre existed but have been told by their friends to come and see our show. They see it and LOVE it and the look on their faces is priceless. They’ll never forget that and neither will I. That’s pretty cool to be a part of.

Phil Vaughan and Olivia Violet Robinson in The Motor Camp. Photo by Stephen A'Court. 
DOTW: You have been working double time for the last few weeks, rehearsing Peninsula during the day and performing The Motor Camp at night; what has that experience been like? Is it difficult to switch from one to the other?

PV: Rehearsing during the day for one show and then performing another at night is a little hard. But really? World War II was hard. This is a joy. Don’t really have a lot of time at the moment for anything else but I don’t mind. For me the tiredness is washed away when you surf the wave of more than 240 people in a small space letting loose, laughing and genuinely having a good time.

DOTW: The Motor Camp is a very funny show that literally sends audiences into hysterics; what has been the most memorable audience reaction to the show, either this season or last?

PV: There is one scene in the show where I show a rather large amount of my body. There was one night when I came out and my mother told me after that the woman sitting next to her exclaimed ‘Oh my God will you look at the state of that!’ Mum said she wasn’t quite up to leaning over and telling her she had given birth to it.

Tim Spite and Phil Vaughan in The Motor Camp. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
DOTW: Aside from your work in theatre, you have become quite recognisable for the Countdown ads; what has that experience been like?

PV: Yes the Countdown ads are quite high profile and I do get recognized a lot for them. I’m very fortunate that that profile can bring other opportunities. And as an actor, it is not often in your life you get to feel a little financial security. The response has been very favourable. A lot of people come up on the street and say they enjoy them, which is nice.

The Motor Camp runs in Circa One until 18 February. All performances in the last week were sold out more than a week in advance, so an extra matinee was added, on 18 February at 4pm. Tickets will sell out, so contact the Circa Box Office or go online right away to book! 801-7992 or www.circa.co.nz.

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