The actor and muso spills all about A History of Everything, his time with the Sydney Theatre Company and more
On and off for several months, three of Sydney Theatre Company’s resident acting ensemble have been working in collaboration with Belgian theatre-makers Ontroerend Goed and their artistic director Alexander Devriendt. The result, a Sydney Festival production, is A History of Everything – which promises to be just that. Cameron Goodall tells Time Out about the show, his time with the STC and more.
Cameron, you’re starring in the ambitiously titled A History of Everything. How are you going to squeeze the history of everything into a single show?
It starts in the present and goes backwards, accelerating exponentially. To approximate... we spend the first minute of the show on what happened today. The second minute on what happened yesterday. The third on last week, the fourth last month, fifth covers last year, sixth and seventh might take us through the 90s. Or maybe not quite that fast, but certainly by the 40th minute we will be substantially devolved, perhaps part-monkey!? By the 70th... dinosaurs. And then you know... amoebas, particles of hydrogen and helium and so forth. Straightforward stuff. Then end with a Big Bang.
Any idea who (or what) you’re playing in the show?
I will hurriedly represent the likes of Tiger Woods, Stalin, Lee Harvey Oswald, Kermit the Frog, Elvis, Darwin, possibly a plague of locusts and many many more, in whatever form makes most sense of their historical impact, fake beards notwithstanding.
You’ve been a resident performer with the Sydney Theatre Company for a couple of years now. Are you sick of the regular work, regular paycheck and the beautiful location there on the Wharf?
Yes, I deserve better... I might leave to go work at Theatre Club Med instead.
What’s the most fun you’ve had onstage in your time there? Surely nothing can top live paintball onstage…
I’ve been lucky. I got to play a Vodka-swilling Ukrainian zealot, a dubious South-American drag queen, a witchdoctor, a Greek God, a suspected but exonerated paedophile who loved to dance, a bisexual banker with a hair fetish, some wonderful Shakespeare, an oleaginous Calabrian police inspector, I’ve been able to sing my lungs out and write and play a bunch of music, kiss famous people, connect with lots of different audiences in so many different ways. Superlative fun always occurs in the dressing rooms though...
Who would come out victorious in a gang fight between all the characters you’ve played as a Resident?
The dubious South-American drag queen.
Which of your character costumes would you most like to keep?
Speaking of your get-up, where’d you score that rad maroon-ish blazer we’ve spotted you in? It’s ace.
Can’t remember. Op-shop somewhere, or maybe it was given to me by a friend. It was out of commission till I got new buttons from that button shop on King Street. They’ve got buttons for sale, the attitude they give you is free.
We’ve seen the Residents in their underwear or completely nude countless times now. As a performer, how did you get comfortable with your inner nudist?
I don’t know that I’ve ever been 100 per cent comfortable to be honest. But I’ve found myself in positions where nudity seems beneficial to the work, and I’m a good sport I suppose, so I grin and bare it. So to speak.
The Residents have obviously become very close. You must know all their bad habits and character flaws in general. Tell us something juicy. Let’s keep this between us.
Don’t tell anyone but... vegetarianism, genital comparison sessions, copious drinking and Scientology have all become commonplace. Actually, two of those four things are true, I won’t say which.
What’s the vibe like backstage during a show?
Mixture of focus and fun. Of course there’s nudity and stupid gags and made-up shit, but there is always a kind of pressure, and everyone deals with things in different ways, so the backstage area, perhaps because of its forced intimacy, is most strikingly a place of both tolerance and solidarity.
Secret weapon when performing for kids and high school audiences?
Pheromone spray. Confuses them and they start touching each other in the dark.
A performance of The White Guard was filmed and screened nationally live. How was that experience for you and your fellow performers?
A great buzz. We performed the same show but it was captured in a way that created an entirely different experience for its audience.
The director who cast you as Hamlet described you as having a ‘poetic soul’ – how much truth is there in that?
A bit I guess. When you put yourself out there as any kind of artist, people want to see you a certain way, to understand you in terms of their agenda... sometimes it differs from the way you see yourself... sometimes good, sometimes bad... But in this case I’m flattered by ‘poetic soul’ and I say thanks for asking me that question’ cause now I feel warm inside.
You’re the co-founder of theatre collective the Border Project. What’s your manifesto?
To make shows that engage an audience unmoved by traditional forms of theatre.
You’ve got a hell of a set of pipes and in a past life you were a founding member of the Audreys. Do you miss the life of a rock star? Mostly do you miss women’s underwear being flung at you?
Karaoke number of choice?
‘Living on a Prayer.’
Presuming there’s one you can’t play, what musical instrument would you most like to have a bash at one day and why?
Theremin. Doctor Who fantasy.
Coffee, banana, bit of a sing.
What’s next after your residency?
More theatre and music and a little bit of stay-at-home-dad time with my two year old, Lulu. Can’t wait.
Didn’t we see you on a cooking show one time?
[an embarrassed silence ensues]
A History of Everything, Sydney Theatre Company, 13 Jan-5 Feb 2012.