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May 7, 2012 | by  | in Arts Theatre | [ssba]

Profiling Simon Leary

Back in Issue 8, we began a new series that I like to think of as Between Two Ferns with a Thespian. This series takes as its focus a young theatre practitioner who answers deep, delving questions so we can all get to know them a little more; it is always interesting voyeurising other people and, hopefully, we do it with at least a soupçon of classiness. Without further ado, I present to you the thespian du jour!

NAME: Simon Leary
AGE: 25
QUALIFICATIONS: BA (Theatre Studies)— Otago University and BPA (Acting)—Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.

How long have you been acting?

Since I was 15 in a musical, The Outsiders, where I played Sodapop Curtis. I probably would’ve done more earlier but I was sour about not getting the role of Pinocchio when I was 9 in primary school.

What started you acting?

I got into theatresports in a big way at the start of high school because my Intermediate teacher had let me play games from Whose Line is it Anyway in class. Not many people did theatresports, so I got a lot of attention and stage time. My girlfriend at the time was an actor and she was well into school plays and whatnot so I probably started both to impress and compete with her.

What is it about acting that you love?

I used to play out elaborate stories (that were rip-offs of Power Rangers and Conan the Adventurer mixed with Mortal Kombat) with my sister and friends when I was younger—up until a point where I was older than most kids that would do that sort of thing. I guess I see acting now as a much more specific way of playing with my mates, only now a bunch of people pay to sit and watch us emote. There’s much more to it than that of course but that’s probably where my love of it stems from.

How do you feel your qualifications have developed your art?
I think the main way Otago Uni and Toi helped me develop was to provide a context for me to be with a group of fellow passionate theatre-makers who were trying to figure out how to get better. Having set times to experiment in front of each other and get immediate, honest feedback isn’t something I’ve experienced in the same way outside a tertiary institution. Even though the conversing and experimenting continue, I now have more jargon to talk about what I do.

What is the best part you have played and why?
It’s funny, I actually don’t think I’ve beaten Sodapop from The Outsiders. There was something so fresh, new and exciting about that being my first play. Though the roles of Aaron McKinney in The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later and Christy in Mates and Lovers were highlights for me in stretching what I thought my acting range was.

You are in Chekov in Hell that opens in Circa in the weekend. Why should Salient readers ensure they do not miss this production?
It’s my first Circa show! Though, that’s probably more why I shouldn’t miss it. It’s a crazy whirlwind that’s funny as hell with brilliant dialogue yet still asks poignant questions. Plus Jason Whyte as Chekhov is an hilarious ball of awesome.


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