Audi Forum Nights give audiences the chance to hear first-hand from members of the cast and creative team of each show.
At our most recent Audi Forum Night, the actors of Di and Viv and Rose shared how they found their characters by working alongside each other. The following is a transcript of the live event
How much did the actors draw on their own personal histories, and how much of their performance was just acting out the characters?
Nadine Garner: I personally found a lot of inspiration for how I evolved as Di, through being with Mandy [McElhinney] and Belinda [McClory] on stage. I have a very deep love and respect for both of these women and their work, so I’d come to work and learn and watch what they were going to do.
I’m not that ‘method’ in that I don’t really draw from myself, I tend to work with what’s given to me. We come with very different qualities, and the characters are written with very different qualities. I think we found our uniqueness from each other.
Rose is the heart of the play…She’s the mother energy and the person who pours love into everything and teaches us how to love each other and our differences.
Belinda McClory: I think Marion [Potts] was very clever in putting the three of us in a room together because there’s a great chemistry, a great friendship and a great love between us. I think that’s what people respond to when we’re on stage together.
Mandy McElhinney: In choosing to do this, I was attracted to the role because I did see reflections of my life. No one goes away without being able to relate to this play in some way. We shared some stories in the rehearsal room and it was really lovely.
How did the actors transport themselves back to when they were 18 again?
Nadine: We all lived through the 80s and we all know the same music so we looked at film clips and said, “Oh my god, look at the clothes, look at the hair, look at the dancing – it’s so whacky.” So there was a bit of nostalgia in the rehearsal room.
Belinda: I feel like when you’re young you have your whole life in front of you. You’re hopeful, you’re happier. There’s blue sky potential. You could do anything and be anything. I think for me, I was trying to play the hope and ambition of the character. As I get older, I’m more jaded. I guess that’s the difference.
Mandy: Energetically – there is a lot going on in the first half. Then as we get older, we start moving less, we’re sat at the table. It’s like we’re spinning [in the first act] and then we just start to settle and stop as we get older.
How did you deal with the play transferring time so quickly with costume changes? What’s your most difficult quick change?
Belinda: In the play, we go from one scene, and then the next scene says “11 years later”. So how do we tell the audience that? Dale [Ferguson] and Marion tried to do that with hairstyles and clothes.
When I lose the box from Mossbank, and I’m on the phone to Nadine, I’m actually quick-changing whilst I’m talking into a microphone [beside stage]. I am on the phone to Nadine in my undies, madly taking things off and putting things on.
Nadine: Going into the New York scene, getting into that jumpsuit is pretty quick. And it’s so tight.
Mandy: It’s a draw between the New York scene and the “Fanny Scene” with the fan. Getting out of titanium high-waisted jeans and into a skirt.
Nadine: I take a t-shirt out of the oven. There are things in the fridge, you’ve got no idea. It’s a circus back there.
A note on the play’s themes of friendship.
Mandy: We see so many plays about politics or family relationships. Exploring the dynamics between old friends is really wonderful. The playwright Amelia Bullmore has never shared that she’s lost a friend, but it definitely comes from that place of missing an old friend.
Amelia Bullmore’s Di and Viv and Rose plays at Southbank Theatre from 12 August.