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jay james-moody: interview

Triassic Parq cast member Rob Johnson,  photo credit Michael Francis

Triassic Parq cast member Rob Johnson, photo credit Michael Francis

Triassic Parq, written by Bryce Norbitz, Marshall Pailet, and Steve Wargo, is a play directed by Jay James-Moody, and will be playing at the Seymour Centre from 17th June to 4th July. The story centres around a female T-Rex who has suddenly turned male, and how the whole pack comes to terms with this and their own identities. I got the chance to talk to director Jay James-Moody about his experience of working with this story.

 

Can you please briefly describe the story of Triassic Parq?

It’s basically the story of Jurassic Park the movie, but we tell it from the dinosaurs perspective. One of the major plot points of Jurassic Park is that some of the female dinosaurs spontaneously change sex, and so our focus is on how the dinosaurs deal with these major changes to their identity. It’s kind of Jurassic Park meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

What inspired you to bring this story to Squabbalogic?

We’re always on the look out for unique shows, something you’re probably not going to get from a commercial or major theatre company. Personally, I’m just a huge Jurassic Park buff and a musical theatre nut; so for a production that combines both, it was a no-brainer for me. The play’s also great because it explores ideas around gender and particularly being transgender, but in a very subversive way so that people who wouldn’t ordinarily be open to these ideas might get a different take on it.

As the director, what has been your biggest challenge in this production?

Because our dinosaurs are anthropomorphised, we’re still trying to figure out how far the actors should go as dinosaurs. We don’t want to go full dinosaur because it might distract the audience from the issues of gender and identity that we’re trying to seriously explore. Also T-Rex’s have these flimsy little arms which are kind of impractical. But I think we’ve found a nice balance now.

What makes this production of Triassic Parq different to the others?

I’m not sure because I haven’t seen any of the other productions. We’re just working from the script – which is incredibly funny and so well written – and then we’re putting our own spin on it.

You’re an actor, director, artistic director and producer; so is there one job that you enjoy more than the others?

No, that’s why I do all of them. My focus for the last 12 months has been directing and I’m not actually in this show at all. At the end of the day, I’d much rather be in the audience and get to watch the show and the actors – who are doing an incredible job by the way.

What’s your favourite part of what you do?

Just the opportunity to be in a room with such wonderful and creative people. It’s such a joy. In this show particularly, everyone are good friends and so we already have this great confidence in each other. We came into this being really comfortable around each other, which is important for this play where the actors have to pretend to be dinosaurs while tackling serious issues that we don’t want to make fun of.

Do you have any plans for the future of Squabbalogic?

We’re in the midst of planning our 2015-2016 season and we’ll be hopefully sharing that with everyone soon. We’re also doing a big concert at the Sydney Opera House of the Gershwin Musical Of Thee I Sing and that will be our biggest project. We’ll have a choir of 400 people and it will be a co-production with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Overall, how would you summarise this production?

Hilarious, ground breaking, gut busting, joyous.

Do you have any last comments?

If you come and see the show, you will get to see a goat being fed to dinosaurs. That’s probably what we’ve laughed at most, and I’m a vegetarian.

 

Transgenderism is slowly making its way out of taboo territory. We’ve seen Jenna Talackova compete in the Miss Universe pageant, Aydian Dowling lead a competition to be a cover model for Mens Health Magazine and Caitlyn Jenner introduce herself to the world. Although understanding of gender identity has come far, there’s still a long way to go. The first step to understanding is to openly discuss these things, and the theatre is a perfect medium for this. It’s amazing that we have directors like Jay who are willing to put these unique stories onto their stages.

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