Izabella Yena during rehearsal. Photo: Brett Walker
Izabella Yena during rehearsal. Photo: Brett Walker
MTC Audio Lab

Audio Lab Q&A

Izabella Yena

The Home, I’m Darling actor recorded two works for MTC as part of Great Australian Speeches. As a fan of the audio format, she talks about her love for learning something new no matter where she is, or what else she’s doing.

As she was recording words first spoken 80 years ago, actor Izabella Yena was struck by how pertinent their message remains today. She hopes this series will spark joy and bring the theatre and theatrics into your home. 

Can you tell us a bit about the speeches you recorded?

The speeches I recorded were the 1943 maiden speech of Dorothy Tangney, and the Henry Lawson Tribute by Miles Franklin from 1942. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of either speech before this process so my initial step was to research and listen, if I could, to the original recordings.

For both speeches, I explored who these women were, how they went about making these speeches and what that meant for the world around them. Respectively, in 1942 and 1943 there were intense challenges and hardships facing people all over the world, so it was important to have that awareness when preparing the speeches.

How did you find the experience, and what have you learned during this process?

The most striking thing I discovered while reading and listening to the speeches was that although nearly a century has passed since some were made, their message was still pertinent today. The specific subject of the speech may differ from what we are dealing with now but the essence of the speeches – that of resilience, togetherness and overcoming unforeseen challenges – really relate to our current climate.

What do you love most about the audio form?

I love listening to podcasts because of their convenience, wide range of topics (which I can curate for myself) and the fact that I’m able to learn new things wherever I am. While your ears and mind are engaged in audio, you’re free to do a range of other things – like travel, exercise or tidy. Sometimes hearing someone articulate an argument or fact resonates differently to reading it from a page or screen.

Do you have a favourite speech or speaker?

Hannah Gadsby, the Australian comedian. Hannah always has me laughing but also has sections of great poignancy in her stand-up sets. One of the things she talks about, and I love about her speaking, is the ways in which she creates and releases tension in audiences. Her choice of words, rhythm and even silences at times is something that I find myself drawn to and listening to whenever she speaks. 

What do you hope listeners take from your reading, and the series?

I hope listeners learn and reflect on how they are engaging with the world at the moment, and that they feel a sense of togetherness with those around them. We want the series to spark joy and bring the theatre and theatrics into their homes! 

Published on 17 July 2020

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