Newest indie theatre on the block, Around the Moon Productions, is thrilled to be opening later this month with their highly anticipated inaugural production of Lobby Hero by award winning writer, Kenneth Lonergan – a gutsy, award nominated (Broadway 2018 Best Revival of a Play) work filled with suspense, humour and compromised morality.
A busy time for Artistic Director of the fledgling company, Monique Fisher, as she prepares to produce Lonergan’s highly lauded play at 45downstairs late October, as well as act in it.
Read on as Fisher discusses her theatre company – its inspirations, goals and manifesto; as well as Lonergan’s work – themes, style and why it was chosen as the inaugural work for the company; and much, much more.
“The work is perhaps more pressing now than when it was originally written. To work with such a highly talented team of creative’s on such a brilliant piece is a dream come true.”
Inspirations for and main goals of the company:
My main goal is to create a platform where artists can connect and collaborate to create meaningful work that needs to be seen by audiences today. Having the freedom to work on the pieces that I really connect to and to explore work as a team with other emerging artists has always been a passion of mine. As an actor, you can sometimes find yourself waiting for the next audition or opportunity to work to be presented to you, so I wanted to take a proactive step towards making my own mark on the Melbourne performing arts scene by taking a front foot in the process.
What’s in a name: Around the moon productions
I was drawn to the name because it plays with the idea of taking an audience on a journey which requires us all to go deep into our imaginations to engage in the make-believe world we create either on stage or on screen. Each audience members version of going ‘around the moon’ will be different and unique to them. I was inspired by the idea of exploring and travelling to another time/place through art and I think this perfectly encapsulates what my company aims to do.
Theatre that inspires…
I am interested in creating powerful, direct and vulnerable work that forces viewers to question their opinions and look inside themselves. I want to make theatre that is innately relatable and somewhat uncomfortably relevant to our society today. I think we can bring a beautifully refined truthfulness and quality to the theatre-gong community.
Beginning your own theatre company – challenges
It’s been a huge learning process and I am adapting every day to new demands and speed humps along the way. Because it is all new to me, it is hard to predict what’s around the corner so I’ve had to learn to problem solve quickly on the spot to ensure things continue to run smoothly and to ensure the whole team feels supported too. Co-ordinating with lots of different people and parties has been a skill I have had to learn as well as being extremely organised and time-efficient as there are lots of deadlines to hit. I purposefully gave myself a long run-up to our first production to allow time to pick up new skills along the way and that has definitely been very helpful.
I have reached out to industry connections, established producers and friends already making their way in the theatre scene to help gain an insight into how to handle different aspects. I am lucky enough to have many talented people in my life that have offered to help with different things like graphic design and photography that has helped shape my brand. I also have truly wonderful creatives on board for our first show including the Director (James Vinson) who has been able to help shoulder some of the work. I have also completed a Bachelor of Law which has helped me immensely with the producing/paperwork/organisation/negotiation side of things.
Dual creative hats: challenges
For me, producing and performing use opposite parts of the brain. Producing is very analytical and planned, whereas performing is very creative and free-flowing. Because producing tasks pop up all the time along the way, I have found I need to work extra hard to make sure I set time aside to completely switch off my analytical producer brain to work on my character. It has been a lot easier to switch off now that rehearsals have started because I have a wonderful Director to support me and I have a fantastic Production Manager (Jackie Mates) helping alleviate some of the producer tasks whilst I get deep into the acting process. I love learning about all the different production processes and helping wherever I can so sometimes I can’t help myself, but I have to remind myself to step back!
I don’t know yet! I want to see this process out first because I think it will influence what Around The Moon does next. I have met a bundle of talented, hardworking people that I want to incorporate into Around The Moons future somehow. I think 2020 planning will begin after we have had some time to reflect at the end of the season.
Lobby Hero as the inaugural play:
The director and myself trawled through a number of plays before finally landing on Lobby Hero as our debut production. For me, I was immediately drawn to the role of Dawn, a rookie cop on probation faced with the challenge of making the patriarchal New York Police Department respect her. Not only was her character incredibly well written, but her arc also lights the fuse for a fascinating discourse on feminism in the context of law enforcement. My dream for Around the Moon is to make powerful theatre that engages today’s audiences first and foremost on both an emotional and philosophical level, and even after almost twenty years, Lobby Hero has that in spades.
The play explores fundamental themes of integrity and morality, firstly in regards to the justice system, but also in relation to our loved ones and neighbours. Kenneth Lonergan presents us with a seemingly cut-and-dry ethical conundrum on whether one should give a false alibi for a murder investigation. The answer at first seems obvious: “No. You should never lie to the police”. But then the play muddies the waters by posing the question: what if the suspect was your brother? What if you’re 99% sure your brother didn’t do it, and you know the police have a vested interest in locking him up? What if your best friend knows all of this? Should they be expected to remain loyal to you if they’re taken in for interrogation? All of these questions within the drama provide the audience with a framework to examine their own principles, and I believe this is exactly what Lonergan intended.
Must see show:
I really believe this is a play has it all: suspense, comedy, pathos, richly drawn characters and a gripping plot that holds it all together. Not to mention our director, cast, and designers are a hungry team of up-and-coming artists who are striving for nothing short of their best work. Sometimes theatre can be a little inaccessible, but given Kenneth Lonergan’s track record in theatre as well as cinema, I believe Lobby Hero is a great night at the theatre for almost anyone.
October 22 – 27