This week, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, a play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, commenced performances at Sydney’s Old Fitz Theatre.
Probably best known for the 1972 German film version, directed by Fassbinder himself, the piece is billed as “an analysis of feminine psyche and a brilliant exercise in melodrama”.
The production playing at the Old Fitz is presented by MopHead Productions, in association with Red Line Productions, and is directed by Shane Bosher. The all-female cast is led by Sara Wiseman (best known to TV audiences as Carolyn Bligh on A Place to Call Home) and features Taylor Ferguson, Matilda Ridgway, Eloise Snape, Judith Gibson and Mia Evans Rorris.
In addition having chalked up a range of TV and film credits, Taylor Ferguson walked away with a Sydney Theatre Award for her portrayal of Rita in Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s 2015 production of Nick Enright’s acclaimed piece, Good Works. Theatre People had the opportunity to ask Ferguson for more details about her intriguing current project.
“It follows the changing dynamics in Petra Von Kant’s female relationships,” Ferguson says. “It focuses on obsession, love, masochism, sadism, slavery and loneliness.
“It is about a very successful fashion designer who has fallen in love with a model-to-be. She becomes very controlling over this model that you begin to question whether the model is filling a void for Petra or Petra is genuinely in love with her. It dissects women and their individual wants and needs. It shows the complexity in female relationships and how they can end up when everything boils to the surface.”
And is there a message Ferguson hopes those attending will take away from the show?
“That beauty doesn’t last forever, female relationships can be very complex, love can be lonely and women are very, very sexy,” she says.
Ferguson is no stranger to the Old Fitz’s stage. Early in the year, she played the role of Abby in the Amy Herzog-penned play, Belleville, under the direction of Claudia Barrie. As she tells Theatre People, the experience was “so unexpected”.
“They had lost their main actor, so I jumped in four days before the show opened. It was a huge challenge but a great way to start the year.”
Asked about working in the cosy Woolloomooloo theatre space, she describes the venue as “exciting”.
“I love that it is so intimate for an audience member. I love that you can go to the pub, grab a beer then head in to see passionate, rule-breaking theatre. It’s very affordable and the fact that a lot of the creatives are working for free means there is an appreciation and love for stories that is constantly amongst everyone.”
This year, Ferguson also performed in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Jasper Jones – an opportunity she says has been a highlight of 2016.
“Working with director Sam Strong and taking Kate Mulvany’s adaptation off the page was not only a dream come true but an exhilarating three months at a very supportive theatre company,” Ferguson says. “It’s one I will not forget.”
Next year, Ferguson will take the stage in Belvoir’s recently announced production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, which begins next September and stars Pamela Rabe.
THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT – SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling Street (Cnr Cathedral Street), Woolloomooloo
Season: 11 October – 12 November
Times: Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sunday 5pm
Prices: $38 Adult, $33 Concession, $28 Previews and Cheap Tuesday