Last year, Blonde Poison, starring Belinda Giblin, had its Australian premiere at The Old Fitz Theatre. The season was a sell-out success and earned Giblin a Sydney Theatre Award nomination for Best Actress in a Lead Role.
Now, for a strictly limited season, the critically acclaimed one-woman show returns to Sydney before making its Melbourne debut at the MTC’s Lawler Theatre.
Based on a true story, Blonde Poison tells the tale of Stella Goldschlag, a German Jewish woman in war torn Berlin, who is given the chance to save herself and her parents from the death camps in return for agreeing to inform on other Jews in hiding.
In its encore season, Blonde Poison will this time play The Studio at the Sydney Opera House (from April 28 to May 12) and playwright Gail Louw, based in the UK, will travel to Australia to see her play performed in the harbour city.
Theatre People recently had the good fortune of being able to ask Belinda Giblin a few questions about the return season of Blonde Poison. Read on to find out what she had to say!
Theatre People: Can you tell us about Stella Goldschlag on whom this work is based?
Belinda Giblin: Stella was a Jew living illegally in war-torn Berlin when she was betrayed and tortured. When offered the chance of saving herself and her parents from deportation to Auschwitz, she agreed to be a ‘Greifer’ or catcher for the Gestapo and find and betray Jews in hiding. She is a hugely complex character and is an example of how torture, both physical and mental, can provoke extreme behaviours and choices, and how far a person will go for their own survival.
TP: What makes Stella’s story such a strong choice for a theatrical piece?
BG: To start with, this is a powerful story, set against the backdrop of Hitler’s Germany and the horrors, the heroism and the despair that existed in that time. In the play, Stella graphically relives her journey through the war, going from tortured victim to cruel killer, from loving daughter to betrayer of friends, from gentle lover to depraved promiscuity. By its very nature it is theatrical.
It also has huge resonance with what is going on in the world today, with hundreds of thousands of people in detention, being incarcerated or killed for their beliefs, fleeing from war zones, to find themselves homeless and stateless. We have no idea yet of the long-term damage to the psyche that these conditions will create.
TP: How was it that you came to be involved in this show?
BG: The producer, Adam Liberman, came to me with the play, I read it and that was it! It was not only a brilliant and powerful piece of writing, an actor’s dream, but the character was so vivid, so complex, so authentic and I knew I was right for it! It was both a terrifying and thrilling challenge and both the producer and the director, Jennifer Hagan (brilliant!) had such faith and confidence that I could pull it off! That was enough!
TP: What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of taking on this role?
BG: Being alone on stage for 90 minutes for one thing [and] remembering all those lines! Also, making sure I honour the script and the writer’s intention, [and] consistency with the German-Jewish accent. I am confident both Jennifer and I have managed that.
TP: Can you tell us about the show’s 2015 season at The Old Fitz Theatre? How was the audience’s response to the piece?
BG: Overwhelmingly positive! We were booked out for the entire season. Word of mouth, plus the reviews meant that we were turning people away toward the end! Let’s hope they now come to the Opera House!
The play also provoked huge discussion and debate after the show. Lots of audience members stayed behind to talk about it! That’s what we like theatre to do.
TP: How does it feel to have the opportunity to have the playwright, Gail Louw, experience your performance as Stella Goldschlag?
BG: Scary, actually! I have spoken to her on Skype in the UK and she was utterly delightful. I can’t wait to meet her!
TP: What do you hope audiences take away from their experience seeing Blonde Poison?
BG: A great night in the theatre – something to talk, argue, debate about on the way home!
Venue: Sydney Opera House, The Studio
Season: 28 April – 12 May
Tickets: $49.90 – $74.90
Times: Tuesday – Saturday 7pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinee, 1.30pm
Bookings: sydneyoperahouse.com or 9250 7777, or www.ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 723 038