By BRUCE DENNILL
Craig Morris stars in Play List at POPArt Theatre. Play List is an exciting new format that acknowledges the emerging trend towards short-form theatre. The audience is presented with a ‘play list’, from which they select the works they would like to see for any given performance. No two performances are ever the same. The pieces range from clowning, contemporary dance, comedy and slapstick, through to deeply moving abstract pieces.
Live performance is both one of the main drawcards of being a performer and one of the most stressful parts of it. At one point in the process of being involved in a new project do you cross that line?
I’ve alway felt comfortable with live performance and the creative process. I experience very little stress there. Nerves, yes, but that’s what keeps me sharp and gives me focus. I’m actually a lot more stressed with admin! I really enjoy the challenges associated with creating work, and with performing work.
Do you have techniques to improve either scenario – consistently enjoying the performance aspect (it is a job, after all) or mitigating the stress (of all the issues – from iffy pay to annoying audiences)?
In terms of scenarios, I always tried to cultivate a mindset of being flexible and open to scenarios that may be challenging. Once again, mostly with admin, I try to remove as much stress around that by planning ahead as much as I can.
How do you choose projects? What needs to turn you on before you audition for something?
I’m usually hooked by a new project based on the images evoked in my head, either when I read a text or am contacted by a producer, and they tell me about the project. The images and their kinetic potential are what are the initial points of interest for me.
The lifestyle of a working actor is a difficult one to square with family life, or a day job, or half a dozen other aspects of a traditional routine. How do you make it work?
Being a mostly freelance working actor is incredibly challenging. If I could choose, I would do it differently. The demands placed on home and family are immense. I fortunately have an amazing partner and family who are very understanding of what I do. It’s a learning process, constantly. The choices I made at the beginning of my career have shifted now. As the dynamic in my home and family changes. I’ve had to turn down some truly big projects, but those regrets are balanced out by some truly amazing experiences I’ve had in my career. I’m really quite blessed!
As a performer, you’re often asked to deliver on a set of expectations – the playwright’s; the director’s; the rest of the casts’; the audiences’… What sort of input do you prefer to (demand to?) have as an actor?
If I do have any preferences or demands, they would be honesty, authenticity and communication. Those are the biggest lessons I have learned in this industry. Once those are sorted, everything else takes care of itself.
What other roles do you, or would you like to, play in the industry – now or in the future? Writing, production, direction? And what about each or any of those excites you?
This may sound esoteric, but I try not to think about that too much. I have numerous projects floating around in my head, and I know there will be a time and place for some of them to manifest. I also have to wait to be the right age, to have the right ability, and to tell the right story at the right time. I’ve done a little bit of everything, but not necessarily because it was part of the plan. Rather, these were opportunities which came up, and I took them.