Once Australia – Part One

It’s been too long since my last Meditations blog entry. I’ve been busy manifesting and creating so this is going to be an overview to cover the past couple of months since the Adelaide Fringe Festival ended and I wrapped up a successful premiere season of my show Someday.

image credit – Robert Catto

Auditions

A few days after my final show of Someday, my agent emailed me the casting brief for Once which is high up on my list of favourite films and musicals. The Darlinghurst Theatre Company were remounting their popular 2019 production and many of the original cast and creatives were returning, however, there were a few roles which needed filling. I submitted my self-tape and was invited to audition in Sydney in early April. I packed my guitar and an overnight bag and hopped on a flight. This was the first time I’d travelled on a plane since the end of 2019 so I had mixed feelings based on the various travel restrictions and new policies in place. Nevertheless, something called me to this opportunity and I seized my chance to perform in front of the creative team.

Round one went well and I was called back for the role of Baruska. I prepared the new material which the casting team gave to me and auditioned for them again. A few days later my agent gave me the news of the producers’ offer to cast me for the role of Baruska. I was elated that my efforts resulted in this opportunity, but I also knew this meant a drastic change in many areas of my life. I reflected on the three words I chose as my theme for 2021: health; creativity; and connection. I concluded that there would be many good things that would come from accepting this rare offer, yet there were also some things I’d have to let go of, which made the situation bittersweet. However, being part of Once would be such fulfilling work allowing me to honour my three theme words for this year. I pictured the woman I would be by the end of the tour, and I decided I wanted the challenge of this creative process.

image credit – Robert Catto

Rehearsals

The official cast announcement was released on Monday 10 May, coinciding with our first day of a three-week rehearsal period. The energy in the room during our rehearsal weeks was intense, but satisfying. Every time I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility, I’d take a step back and remind myself that the story we’re telling is a beautiful one made moreso by a gorgeous score by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It is a soundtrack I’ve loved for many years and there I was in the rehearsal room preparing to perform these songs in a professional production.

It’s a surreal feeling and I’m ever so grateful to be entrusted with such a task. I remember that I told myself at the start of my freelance career that I’d only say yes to opportunities that were healthy challenges which would stretch me for the better. I never want to feel stagnant or complacent as I fear I would take for granted the many good things this life has to offer. I’m much better in situations that are difficult but gratifying, and this definitely is the case with this show. I’ve loved seeing this story piece itself together over the weeks of May.

image credit – Robert Catto

Once we bumped into the theatre at the end of May, we commenced working through the technical elements of the production. These were long days and they tested my ability to transfer newly memorised material into a new space, and be adaptable to numerous changes which needed to occur in order incorporate lights, sound, props, and general logistics into the work.

In short, we got through it all with a great show on our hands and performed to warm, appreciative audiences during previews and opening night on Tuesday 8 June. I’m enjoying every bit of this experience as I learn many new things about myself and this work. The lessons are many but fruitful and I trust that I’m exactly where I need to be.

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