When Kyle Kazmarzik walked out of his audition for Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s The Pride, he was happy with his performance but convinced he wasn’t getting the part.
Fortunately, after a long search for the right man, director Shane Bosher decided that Kazmarzik – who he’d seen perform previously at NIDA – was the right man for the job.
“Three weeks after the audition, I got an email from my agent…[which] said, ‘You got the part,’ he tells Theatre People.
“I got the email on the day that Star Wars came out, so that was an added bonus!”
The Pride marks Kazmarzik’s first performance on the professional stage. He began his acting training at the Adelaide College of the Arts, graduating in 2009. He’s starred in seven stage shows, playing roles ranging from John Proctor in The Crucible to Hanschen in Spring Awakening, as well as 11 short films (many of which he also wrote and produced).
It was 2013 when Kazmarzik commenced his NIDA studies, and he later became a recipient of the Hazel Treweek Shakespeare Award for his excellence in classical text. That recognition served as the catalyst for Kazmarzik’s decision to develop his own work. He went on to produce and direct three of his own plays for the NIDA Student Festival in 2015.
Part of Kazmarzik’s surprise in learning he’d secured a role in The Pride came from the fact that that break occurred so soon after graduating from NIDA. “Nobody ever gets a role straight out of NIDA,” Kazmarzik says. “That’s what you hear anyway – everyone struggles for a little bit and hopes for the best.”
He emphasises the importance of drama graduates becoming thick-skinned and preparing themselves for an onslaught of ‘nos’.
“Coming straight out of drama school, I was lucky because, at NIDA, they set you up fairly well. They invite agents to come and see the final productions. You get a chance to actually show your face and hopefully, after the interview processes, [you] manage to land yourself an agent. And that’s always a really good step…because then this whole new world of possibilities just opens up to you…”
His advice to those at the tail end of their studies, readying themselves for a career in the business, is to approach every audition as an opportunity to continue honing their skills. “That’s the best part about auditioning,” he says. “You get a chance to just act in front of people and practise the craft that you’ve been training for the last three years, even though it’s for 10 minutes at a time. There’s nothing better than that, I think.
“And I think that’s the best advice I could give, is that if you do go in for auditions, don’t go in thinking it’s an audition. Go in thinking, ‘I get a chance to act in front of you people [performing a role] that I’ve probably never done before, and I should do my best for you, for myself [and] for this role in this particular moment.”
It’s less than two weeks now until Kazmarzik takes to the stage in The Pride, an Olivier Award-winning play written by playwright and screenwriter, Alexi Kaye Campbell, which tells two parallel gay love stories. The first takes place in 1958 and the second in the world of today.
Before joining the cast, Kazmarzik knew of Campbell but was unfamiliar with The Pride. “I think it’s a beautifully written play,” he says. “It’s a very powerful piece…It’s a wonderful look at how the gay community has progressed – if at all.”
Describing himself as a huge advocate for gay rights, Kazmarsik is excited to be part of The Pride’s Sydney Premiere, which occurs as part of the 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
So what does he single out as the key audience takeaway of The Pride?
“Love can manifest in any form, and I think it’s foolish to think otherwise,” he responds. “That’s one of the best things that I took away from this play.”
Alongside Kazmarzik, actors Matt Minto, Simon London and Geraldine Hakewill will bring The Pride’s characters and stories to life for the first time in Sydney. And Kazmarzik is full of praise for his peers. “These guys are doing such an incredible job with the words and the power behind them. It’s wonderful to be able to be in the theatre and to watch it all unfold. I can only imagine what it will be like for the general [public] to come in and see it…”
Karmarzik himself has the task of tackling three roles in The Pride. “My first role is a rent boy in London, my second role is a lads’ magazine editor, and the third role is a doctor in 1958,” he explains.
But rather than nervous, he’s excited about having been given the opportunity to portray each of those characters on stage. “The thing that I love about acting is that you get to be somebody other than yourself, and to be involved in a well-written play where you get to play three different characters is gold,” he says.
“I love doing character work. I think it’s my favourite type of work, and these three particular roles that I’m playing are huge characters.”
The roles also afford Kazmarzik the chance to be at the centre of the show’s comedic moments, something else he’s looking forward to doing in front of audiences. “I like to get laughed at,” he tells Theatre People.
He looks forward to taking to the stage and, together with his cast mates, allowing audiences to experience a show that focuses on issues that remain highly topical, and received rave reviews upon its debut in London in 2008.
“[The play] is accessible to everyone. It really does have a powerful impact,” Kazmarzik says.
“It’ll make you think.”
Previews: 5 – 7 February
Season: 9 February – 6 March
Performance Times: Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm, Wed matinee: 2 March, 11am,
Sat Matinees: 27 February & 5 March, 3pm
Ticket Prices: Adult $45/ Conc & Groups $38/ Under 30 (Tue-Thu) & Previews
A $2 booking fee applies per ticket for online and phone bookings
Bookings www.darlinghursttheatre.com or 02 8356 9987 (9.30am-5.30pm