Award-winning director brings ‘Nothing’ to Hobart

CELEBRATED theatre director Kate Gaul has joined forces with Blue Cow Theatre to deliver an adaptation of Danish novel ‘Nothing’.

Ms Gaul, Sydney-based actor Josef Ber and winner of the Best Performance (Female) at the 2019 Tasmanian Theatre Awards Jane Hamilton-Foster will bring the Janne Teller book to life at the Peacock Theatre this April.

Ms Gaul said she was inspired to direct Nothing after seeing an English interpretation performed at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2017.

“It’s a great piece of storytelling for actors because they’re essentially creating a whole society of teenagers as they go on this quest for meaning,” she said.

Nothing is a story about a young boy who realises there is no meaning to life, while his classmates attempt to prove him otherwise.

Ms Gaul said the play would demand a lot of post-show discussion.

“The play is exploring things like transience, the fragility of life and all of the things we fight for in that short time we have on earth, and in a way that’s a message best delivered by other humans face-to-face,” she said.

“Audiences will understand that as we begin to contemplate what’s important to us, the net result of fighting for what we believe is important can lead to violence.

“I hope the play dramatises that, and shows how from a simple abstract idea it can move through to a very violent response in the search for meaning and the necessity to hold tight your own meaning.”

Normally performed by a large ensemble, Mr Ber and Ms Hamilton-Foster will play multiple roles in Nothing.

“This novel has been adapted into operas, youth theatres and plays where you see all the town on stage, but this is a different kind of adaptation where everything’s contained within the actor – you see that actors can do anything,” Ms Gaul said.

“The audience start off observing these characters, but very quickly become part of that community because it’s about us.”

Ms Hamilton-Foster said the play was a good challenge to help improve her skills.

“We jump in and out of different characters – one sentence I’ll be talking as a character and then I’ll be talking as a narrator to the audience,” she said.

Ms Hamilton-Foster, who lives in Huonville, said it would be great to perform in front of her home crowd.

“Theatre is life, theatre is everything – if you come and see this play you’ll be able to discuss the meaning of life with your friends and family,” she said.

“These kids try to find meaning and at first they try to through Dungeons and Dragons, sandals, hair combs and trivial things like that, but it ends up in a life and death situation.”

Ms Gaul will be producing the play in partnership with Blue Cow Theatre, which has been producing plays in Tasmania for nine-years.

Blue Cow Theatre artistic director Robert Jarman said Nothing would connect with people on a personal level.

“It’s fantastic and beautiful,” he said.

“It deals with quite heavy stuff and big questions, such as the meaning of life, but it’s a lot of fun as well.

“Watching two actors play 30 roles and be put through their places is always entertaining to watch.”

Mr Jarman said it was an honour to work with Ms Gaul.

“Kate’s hot property in Sydney,” he said.

“She gave me the play to read and I instantly fell in love with it, so I really wanted her to come down and do it.”

Ms Gaul said she encouraged everyone to come and see the show.

“No matter what age you are it’ll speak to you, but in different ways and that’s the fun part about doing it – we never know what we’re going to get,” she said.

“It’s going to be interesting how younger people and older people respond to it.”

Tasmanian audiences will have the chance to witness Ms Gaul’s adaptation of Nothing at the Peacock Theatre from 10 to 20 April.

Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royale.

Caption: From left, director Kate Gaul, Josef Ber and Jane Hamilton-Foster rehearse for their production of ‘Nothing’.

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