Rohan Mirchandaney tells us about his upcoming role as Jasminder in Melbourne Talam
What are you most looking forward to about playing Jasminder?
I’m looking forward to exploring a completely different life to my own. I’m interested in the way Jasi thinks, the way he reasons and how he goes about fitting into a new world. I’m also eager to develop my understanding of what it’s like to be an outsider struggling with identity to improve my own awareness and empathy to different people around the world.
Melbourne Talam tells ones of many immigration stories in Australia – do you think there is a greater need for sharing these stories on our stages?
I love how Melbourne Talam shines a light on a serious social issue that the vast majority of Australians wouldn’t know is occurring. It takes place in a very localised environment to highlight the greater issues of identity, adversity – both external and internal, as well as the struggle of dreams vs. reality.
Melbourne Talam is special to me because even though I am 100% Indian, I was born in Australia. At times I identify with elements of the Australian characters more than the Indian ones. In saying that, I’m glad this play allows me the opportunity to flip my perspective and widen my understanding about outsiders coming to my home, Melbourne. I’m helping to tell their story today and it’s special to be able to share a story through my eyes, my way, about my home via the career that I love. Melbourne Talam is based on true events, which strengthens the connection for me, approaching the text in a very real way and doing the characters justice is exciting and challenging at the same time. Above all, being involved with the play from early development stages allowed me to contribute constructive changes such as making alterations to refine characters, clarifying translation issues and helping to workshop narrative points and dialogue when elements were struggling to click. Helping shape a work of literature that will be analysed and studied along with being the first actor to ever bring Jasminder to life on a national stage is pretty awesome too!
Why do you think theatre is a powerful medium?
Theatre is a great way of dissecting social issues and sparking conversations about the society we live in and how we all get along. Stage productions are a fantastic way of using art to educate, entertain, bring us together and help us develop our understanding of different peoples’ lives. There are so many different forms and styles of theatre, which help tell different stories stronger. Melbourne Talam uses a very non-natural style to help tell these stories. I love the unique choice of non-naturalism theatre to show so much depth to these characters than realist theatre. The conventions of flashbacks, establishing rules of the world on stage (eg: phone conversations out to the audience at times) and monologues all really allowed the audience to see these characters in many different points of their life allowing for a deeper understanding. Theatre allows us to experiment and create fusions through our dance sequences, combining western and Indian cultures via blending the art forms of music and dance.
Melbourne Talam plays at Southbank Theatre, The Lawler from 4 – 20 May. Book now.