Five minutes with: Emily Goddard

After a whirlwind few years of formal training in Paris, and performing in Barcelona and around Australia, actor Emily Goddard is about to make her MTC debut in “Elling”:. Daniel Coghlan caught up with Emily to chat about her past travels and future goals.

When did you decide you wanted to be an actor?

I always loved performing and making up plays when I was little, but had my heart set on being a ballet dancer. When I was about 14 I realised I was more into playing out all the characters in the stories than doing pirouettes and it kind of grew from there. There was nothing I ever wanted more. I briefly entertained some other ideas and tried to study Law, but felt like I was betraying myself.

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The training at �cole Philippe Gaulier is well known for Le Jeu (game and play). Can you describe what this method taught you?

The training at Ã�cole Philippe Gaulier involves a broad range of genres, from Shakespeare and Chekhov to Bouffon and Clowning. Training in Le Jeu taught me that the most important thing in acting is your pleasure and your connection (complicité) with the other actors and your audience. He teaches actors to search for their pleasure and freedom and bring this to the stage. If we don’t, the play is boring – and boring theatre is a crime!

In Elling, your MTC debut, you play a number of characters living in Oslo, Norway. In your travels did you ever visit Norway?

I haven’t been to Norway yet unfortunately! I studied with some lovely Norwegians and would really like to visit. I did have a couple of white Christmases in Paris and the UK, and there’s a white Christmas in Elling so that is beautiful to connect with. Even though all of the characters I’m playing live in Oslo, they are also outsiders, and they each have a world of their own.

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With all your travel experience, do you speak any other languages? Have you performed in these languages?

I speak some French but have never performed in it. In Paris we all spoke English but as it was an international school people often improvised in their own language. I played Ophelia to a Chinese Hamlet which was quite bizarre. It made me realise, though, that what we do can transcend our languages, which was a beautiful discovery. When I was doing a show in Barcelona I spoke some Catalan. It was for comic effect only, because my pronunciation left a lot to be desired. I envy Europeans who are exposed to and can speak so many different languages. One day, I hope!

Aidan Fennessy directed you in a performance while at Monash University. Now you’re working with Pamela Rabe, another member of the Season 2012 programming team. How have you found the experience with Pamela as director?

I am really enjoying working with Pamela. She’s very generous, giving us lots of room to play and she can speak to us in our language as actors which I think is a really wonderful thing. We’re having a fantastic time with this show – discovering its nuances, magic and all of the charm in its oddness.

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You’ve performed in works across the globe, with a range of companies and even in your own cabaret. Do you have a particular stand out performance memory? Highlight or lowlight?

The shows I’ve done recently stand out as being highlights so far – working with my boyfriend Nick Bendall on The Walls last year was a wonderful, silly experience where we both got to use our clowning. I recently finished a regional tour of Declan Greene’s Moth with Tom Conroy which was also an extraordinary experience – travelling with a show that left such an impact on its audiences was a remarkable thing.

Looking toward the future, do you have a dream role or play you’d like to perform?

Yes, many! I haven’t done any classics yet and would love to sink my teeth into some Shakespeare and some Chekhov soon. There is also a show swimming around in my imagination based on the convict women in the crime class at Cascades Female Factory in Hobart. My great-great-great-grandmother Sarah Ford was sent there and there are some extraordinary stories to be told – they used theatre in their dorms at night to mock the authorities. The birth of Australian bouffon perhaps? I’d love to create a play about them soon.

Emily Goddard appears in “Elling”:, now playing at Southbank Theatre, the Sumner until 8 December.

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