New Zealander Morgana O'Reilly, best known for playing Naomi Canning in Neighbours, is bringing her award-winning solo show 'The Height of the Eiffel Tower (varies by 8cm depending on the temperature)' to Assembly Hall as part of the NZ at Edinburgh 2014 showcase.
What inspired you to create a one-woman show?
I was originally inspired to make a solo show to raise money to go travelling. I figured it would be way cheaper to make with only one person in it, and I wouldn't have to pay other actors! Much easier said than done of course. But in the end the show did in fact, generate me enough money to take me over seas and go on lots of adventures.
Can you give us a quick overview of the show?
The show is a funny, heartwarming portrayal of a mother of four trying to become the person she always intended to be. We meet Terri, over a coffee date with an old friend from university, and we watch as she struggles to tell jokes and keep the conversation from turning too deep. But throughout, we also meet her kids. Anna-Lousie is 16, pregnant and horrible, Nathan is 13, awkward and obsessed with random facts, Duncan is 23, and infectious, but Katie, her eldest, is travelling overseas, getting caught up in fads, fashions and cults, and sending letters home to her mum. You will laugh, cry, but ultimately, win!
You performed this show in various living rooms all over New Zealand and America to raise funds - how was that experience?
After I came home from my travels, my director Abigail Greenwood and I took the show on a 'Living room tour' to raise funds to perform the show at the New York Fringe Festival in 2010. We started to get some good press about the idea and ended up going to about 100 different homes over a month. We would rock up to the person's home, do the show and then pass around a hat, or a bowl or whatever they had to collect donation. With the help, generosity and belief of our audience, we took the show to NYC with no help from funding organisations or corporate sponsorship, just the people. Pretty amazing. But aside from the fundraising thing, I'd also perform to say thank you for having me, or just as a way of making some cash as a very broke actor. It's been such a lovely way to make friends! Oh, and also see inside some really beautiful houses.
You said you want to ‘give a sense of bringing people into my living room as opposed to the other way around' - how will you do this at the Fringe?
When I perform in a theatre, it feels like my space, when I perform in a person's home they welcome me into theirs. This time it's about returning the favour! I want everyone to feel like they're coming into my home, that we're all here to have a nice time, as if we've just had lunch together and revel in our common love of story telling.
Of all the places you've performed so far, which has been your favourite?
There have been a few. Performing for four people on the sand on Venice Beach. Performing in a packed living room in Sydney for a group of local actors. A rather jaded performance at The Burning Man festival. Receiving a standing ovation from a hardened New York audience. Performing for the amazing girls and staff of He Huarahi Tamariki (NZ charity). Performing for my (now Husband) in his living room a few weeks after we met. He sat beautifully still and enthralled as I played out the show for him. He even shed a little tear at the end. I think it made him love me more. So that worked well.
What are you looking forward to most about the Fringe?
Getting the show up in front of a European audience will be interesting. I hope they like it! But then getting caught up in the festival atmosphere, seeing shows, being inspired to make more shows and maybe drink some whiskey while I'm at it.
Will you miss your Neighbours co-stars?
Yes!! They have become new family. When I'm working on Ramsay street, we spend more time together than we do with most of our real families. So I will indeed miss them. But thanks to the powers of modern technology, they are not far away. I can even watch them on telly! In fact, I can watch me, hanging out with them, on telly! Pretty cool huh?
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