“Australia Day” will open the Queensland Theatre Company’s 2014 season. We caught up with leading actor Paul Bishop who told us a little about the production and his hilarious role.
Australia Day follows the story of six quirky community leaders as they debate the minute details of the national day and identity.
Paul Bishop leads a great cast as Mayor of the small fictional town of Coriole.
Here’s what he has to say about the theatre production and working with actress Andrea Moor in her playhouse directorial debut
1. Can you tell us in one sentence what Australia Day is about?
(Australia Day) is a refreshingly hysterical comedy by political satirist, Jonathan Biggins, which follows the events of a very unique committee of local residents who are planning for January 26 Citizenship celebrations, however as they say “the best laid plans….”, a few other challenging issues start to arise.
2. What role do you play in Australia Day?
My character Brian Harrigan is a busy bloke. Not only is he Mayor of the (fictional) Shire of Coriole in Northern NSW, he owns the local hardware store under threat by a new Bunnings proposal, is also the Australia Day Committee Chairman and running for Liberal Party Pre-selection to show the ‘idiots in Canberra’ how to sort things out properly.
3. Did you draw on your experience as Redland City Councillor for the role?
As an actor, I have studied the best and worst in people for over 25 years.
I have also observed a range of different approaches to local issues in my time in council. Just like in the play there are strong personalities with strong convictions and passions. While I can honestly say I have not influenced one word in the script, I also bring a unique insight into the motivation behind the words on paper as the drama (and comedy) unfolds.
4. What political themes does the play deal with?
Boat People; Climate Change; Greens vs Labour vs Liberal vs National vs Independents; What our community really wants; Ambition; Blackmail; Honour; Pride; Apathy; Xenophobia; Disgraced Politicians; and, of course, Campbell Newman.
5. What was it like working with Andrea Moor in her playhouse directorial debut?
Andrea is one of Australia’s finest actors who has studied and evolved her craft over many decades and recently received a PHD for her studies as a director. I have known Andrea for decades and worked with her as an actor in The Crucible for QTC. In rehearsal, she combines wit with wisdom and we have taken to calling her ‘Doctor Director’, because she loves to ‘be the boss’, in a very supportive way.
6. What other acting projects will you working on in 2014?
Last year, I won the SEGRA Challenge, with a promise to foster community resilience, enterprise and design at TheRedPlace.com.au , to present at the National SEGRA Conference 2014 (Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia) in Alice Springs.
I will also appear in ‘Gods of Wheat Street’ (ABC TV), and a new short film ‘Skin’, which both premiere in 2014.