BG: Hi James. Tell us a little about yourself: in particular, your performing background.
JM-G: I’ve been treading the boards since i was a kid. First for Northern Light Theatre Company in the eighties, then I had the idea that I wanted to be a ‘real’ actor so I spent 3 years ‘training’ at the College of Performing Arts (now AC Arts) when I was 19, under David Kendall and Peter Dunn and Isobel Kirk. Then I moved to Brisbane, then Sydney and was fortunate enough to get a bit of part time paid acting work at places like La Boite, Belvoir St, and at the Sydney Opera House for Opera Australia. And a bit of film and TV. I moved back home about 4 years ago, married, and have been flat out ever since! Mainly with Matt Byrne Media plays and musicals. So, thanks, Matt!
BG: What are your thoughts about the play itself?
JM-G: Willy Russell’s play, Educating Rita examines themes of education, class, addiction, literature, tragedy, mentoring, personal growth and connecting with others. It is a play very rich in language and ideas and hopefully there will be something in it for everyone in the audience. I feel like it is Willy Russell’s autobiography in a way. They say to write about what you know and Russell does just this. He has been a ladies hairdresser as well as an English teacher at college and I’m sure there are elements of him in both Rita and Frank. I love that the play examines the question of ‘what is culture’? Frank attempts to impart his version of culture to Rita and Rita talks about the ‘working class culture’ that surrounds her. But is one more valid than the other? The play probably poses more questions than it does answers and hopefully the audience will walk away with these questions…and maybe a few answers. I believe the play is essentially about ‘connecting’ with others.
BG: What are your thoughts on Nathan as a first-time director
JM-G: I have worked with Nathan Quadrio a number of times now on stage. I first saw him as Richie Cunningham in NLTC production of Happy Days then worked with in MBM’s Mary Poppins, as did Lauren. He always struck me as intelligent, passionate about theatre, driven and dedicated. It took me a while to say ‘yes’ to him (about playing Frank) as I have so many other commitments but how often does an actor get the chance to play such a great character? And I have always been a fan of the film and Michael Caine in particular. Nathan has been very collaborative throughout the whole process and taken on board my ideas for the character and has ‘educated’ me in a few ways such as teaching me about the ‘Romantic’ poets and other pieces of literature. He’s also been laughing in all the right places in rehearsal, so hopefully the audience will also. He’s a smart kid!