According to their website, Doppelganger Theatre Company consists of a group of young professionally trained actors working towards growing in their art, creating, experimenting and entertaining. According to Genevieve Giuffre, Co founder of Doppelganger Theatre, it is that and a whole lot more that pushes Doppelganger ahead of the pack in this modern market, where both well established and fledgeling independent theatre companies vie for bums on seats.
Genevieve also discusses Doppelganger's newest production, Loose Ends, which will play from November 23.
Doppelganger Theatre is a fledgeling independent theatre company of which you are a co-founder. What were the inspirations that prompted you to create this collective?
Michael Argus, another co-founder really started the groundwork for our company. We all had a desire to self -generate our own work. I was inspired to create Doppelganger Theatre because it was an opportunity for me to have creative control and freedom in the work.
Others have described similar ventures as fraught with danger. What are some of the challenges that you have met and how were these managed?
The challenges are varied and endless. We try to forge a safe environment for actors to work in and encourage open communication. There are always going to be creative differences within the company and it is important for actors to feel as though they can fight for an idea and be heard without judgment. This is an important lesson we have had to learn over the years. It can be dangerous to deny any artist a right to their creative freedom.
What is the most important message that you would like people to know about Doppelganger?
Doppelganger is an actor- centered company. We seek connection from one another and our audience. We want to tell good stories. We love what we do and we believe in its importance within society.
My understanding is that Doppelganger is interested in fostering young actors and those just coming out of training. What has inspired this interest and how does Doppelganger help those young actors?
It isn’t a conscious decision on our behalf to foster young actors coming out of training, however as a collective we are attracted to actors who are consistently training. By generating work for ourselves we inevitably generate work for others. As actors we all want the opportunity to work with great people and collaborate, our collective thrives on this exchange with actors and artists of any age.
The theatre can be a place that entrances, captures imaginations and challenges sensibilities. What, in particular, is the theatre for you?
Theatre for me is an exchange between the audience and the actors on stage. When a story is told with truth and clarity, theatre can be one of the greatest mirrors in exposing and revealing our humanity. I believe it can connect us beyond any other medium because it is truly alive. As Human beings we have a desire to have our story be heard, our experiences shared.
The company, I believe, consists of 7 core members. What was the process wherein this collective was chosen and does the company recruit new members?
The foundation of the company are graduates of the Arts Academy Ballarat, As a collective we felt it was time to incorporate actors with alternative influences, experiences and training. The company recruited new members this year because we felt we needed to expand and grow within our work for the betterment of the collective.
Can you discuss the every day running of the company: i.e. are particular members of the collective responsible for specific areas; are decisions made via committee; any other specifics??
It all depends on which part of the process the company is working through. When we were deciding on a piece to perform this year the company would meet once a week and we would share plays with one another in the hope of discovering a project that inspired us as a whole. The biggest challenge was finding a piece that was age appropriate and had a message we could connect with. Our process is generally very collaborative, we prefer to hold group discussions when making decisions. But there are times when we don’t always have that luxury.
Funding can be a huge hurdle for new ventures. Has this been the case for Doppelganger and if so how has this been managed?
We are self-funded at this stage in our development. Most Independent theatre companies are to some degree, especially when they are starting out. We really wanted to financially support this project because we believe in it and we wanted to make it happen. In this particular project the financial responsibility has been taken on by the original core members.
Your latest production is Loose Ends. Tell us a little about the story behind this decision?
We had been hunting down new and old works for over two months as a collective when Michael found Loose Ends after discovering the playwright Michael Weller on a Larry Moss play list. It is a phenomenal piece of writing that we felt had a message – had a very strong message. As a collective we tend to be drawn to American Naturalism.
What would be your sales pitch to entice those who know very little about this play?
Loose Ends is rarely performed in this country. It is a brilliant piece of American naturalism that should not be missed. The New York Times described Loose Ends as “honest, resonant and haunting.” I believe this piece of theatre will resonate with its audiences on a very personal level, It has a very rare power to act as a mirror instantaneously as its characters are so well crafted. Loose Ends is highly clever, very funny and intimately heart breaking.
If the play holds one pertinent message what would that be?
Loose Ends is largely about the dreams we have set for ourselves in order to gain our sense of happiness on this earth. For me one of the most pertinent messages is within the historical setting of the play. Being set in the 70’s the piece is really about the beginnings of finding our own individual freedom. It’s also about possessing ambition and how this effects our choices and our relationships in life.
Where do you believe the company will be in 5 years and what does the collective need to do to ensure it gets there?
I think if we continue to be honest with ourselves, the work we produce and the artists we work with Doppelganger will evolve into something truly tremendous. If we can keep harvesting our belief in the importance of what we do and remain open to new influences the company will experience the growth and strength it needs to survive and go forward. We also need to keep having fun and enjoying each other’s company.
And finally, what is next for you.
As a company we have our sights set on a few festivals in the coming year. Ideas are always in the works and it’s a great feeling as an actor to feel as though you can help create what is coming next!
Doppelganger is proud to present Loose Ends November 23 – December 3 Melbourne Trades Hall Old Council Chambers. Further details visit: http://www.doppelgangertc.com/#!__loose-ends