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interview: lizzy falkland and leeanna walsman, speaking in tongues

The precursor to Australian film Lantana, State Theatre Company’s next play Speaking In Tongues by Andrew Bovell examines relationships and loyalty. I met with actors Lizzy Falkland and Leeanna Walsman (whom lip readers might recognise as Carly Bishop from Looking for Alibrandi. I know…I studied the book/film in high school and had a bit of a squee moment recalling my fourteen-year-old self’s love of both) to discuss this production and life as an actor.

Any readers who are unsure of what to do with their lives should listen to their instincts and follow their passion, if stories of Lizzy and Leanna’s pathways to acting are anything to go by.

“I can’t remember not being part of the school play,” Leeanna recalls. “I don’t know what would encourage me to do that, to be honest. It must be something in your make up. It must be, because my brother was interested in sports and was more academic, whereas I was always more interested in history and the psychology of things and people.”

Lizzy shares a similar story: “I was always kind of drawn to drama. It was just a bit magical that you could be someone else.”

When asked about the prospect of starting a family while maintaining an acting career, both agree that having children as an actor is no different to having children in other career.

“If you need to take time off, take time off,” Lizzy says. “A good friend of mine has just had her third child, and she’s an actor and her partner’s an actor, and it somehow works out that one will be working while the other will not be.”

“In any profession now I think there are women who choose their career over their family,” Leeanna adds. “I’m sure it’s harder, but I think that it must be hard anyway.”

The most difficult problem as Lizzy sees it? “Finding a partner!”

Speaking In Tongues’ story centres on relationships, with the characters’ decisions – such as infidelity – enabling us to question ourselves. “Morals are questioned with every character,” Leeanna explains. “There’s nobody who does anything that you wouldn’t question. But they all do things that you would have some sort of affinity to. You would understand but you wouldn’t necessarily agree, or openly agree. They’re the things that we feel and we think to ourselves, but you don’t vocalise them because they make you look foolish, or not a very good person.”

The intricacy of having eight characters and two simultaneous stories is no mean feat to pull off.

“It’s like spinning those plates on a pole,” Lizzy opines. “You can’t get so soggy that one of them’s teetering – you might want to do that because you think it looks speccy, but you’ve got to keep the momentum going. It really is very precise, but our job is to make it look effortless.”

What can we learn from the play?

“You can’t travel through life without accumulating damage,” says Lizzy. “Just to live is to be scarred. To have a full experience of life you’ve got to have the full complexities. You don’t want to reach 85 and go, gee, what a clean little scorecard I have. What’s that? Your autobiography would be pretty fucking boring.”

Speaking in Tongues, which opens on July 6 at the Dunstan Playhouse, will have a Red Carpet party on July 8. These events are aimed at young theatregoers, and give you a chance to meet the cast and director over a drink or two. This party will be held at Lyrics in the Festival Centre. I’m personally pretty excited about this; it will be my first Red Carpet party, and I’m already planning my outfit. Who doesn’t like mingling?

Red Carpet tickets are $39 from Bass. Regular tickets from $29, also available from Bass.

(Image credit: Shane Reid).

2 thoughts on “interview: lizzy falkland and leeanna walsman, speaking in tongues

  1. Great interview! I like the lack of Q then A then Q then A… Takes out the interviewer from the equation and makes it more about the people being interviewed, which is why we’re reading after all :)

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