The impact of Belinda Giblin’s vivacious energy, exuberant optimism and eloquent responses to interview questions filled me with joy and excitement.
Her capacity for life, compassion, courage, adventure and challenge was endless. She possessed all the qualities inherently necessary for performing the challenging role of Stella Goldschlag in Gail Louw’s Blonde Poison, which had its Australian premiere at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney, Australia on 28th July and runs until the 15th August, 2015.
Belinda Giblin’s solo performance in this thought provoking drama delivered the broad range of character complexities of a tormented woman from a true story set in war-torn Berlin.
She is one of Australia’s most celebrated and talented actresses and it was fascinating discovering her thoughts and reactions.
What were the influences or events that attracted you to the acting profession?
I grew up in a family that was very passionate about literature, theatre, music…anything to do with the Arts. Any activities associated with these were fostered and encouraged.
I learnt piano, flute and ballet for many years and my ballet teacher, Bruno Harvey, (ex Borovansky Ballet soloist) was a huge inspiration for me.
I went to University to do an Arts degree, then NIDA, so it was no surprise that I ended up working in this profession!
I was a fan of your strong and dramatic performances in the soap operas of the 70 and 80’s. What did you learn from these consistent television roles?
A lot of bad habits! Quick colour- wash performances! A facility for learning lines in a very short time!
What have been the rewards of some of your other roles as teacher, freelance trainer, facilitator and coach?
I have a huge curiosity and like to be mentally stimulated. I’m very bad at relaxing; in fact, I don’t think I have the gene for it! So I tend to take on things I’m a bit scared of just to prove that I can do them!
The “Corporate” world was a bit of a mystery to me but training and facilitating in this area has been hugely enjoyable and satisfying and I learnt very quickly not to make assumptions or categorise people. I am constantly being delighted and surprised by them!
The skills I use as a corporate facilitator are those I have honed over an acting career spanning forty plus years, and I jump between these two careers very happily. I’m never bored.
How have you balanced family life and the demands of your varied career roles?
Somehow it has just always worked out. My husband took a very active role when the kids were little, if I was working. He is a great cook and very domestically efficient!
Thankfully we both seemed to be working at different times (he is a set designer) so we managed to make it work quite nicely. If I went on tour, which I did several times when they were young, they would come with me for a large part of the tour.
It was a great education for them! I am a grandmother now and I am pretty “hands on”.
My daughter is also an actress, and teaches at a Performing Arts High School too, so I am a regular babysitter for my grandson and granddaughter, which I absolutely love.
I guess we just zig and zag pretty well on the family front!
What in your life do you feel passionate about?
The raping of our beautiful country by greedy overseas interests and a government that appears to be selling us out to the highest bidder.
What enticed you to performing in Gail Louw’s Blonde Poison?
This play is an absolute gift for an actor. When I was given it to read I was knocked out by the sheer power and emotional scope of the piece and by how brilliant the writing was. The idea of performing it was both thrilling and terrifying!
What do you believe is the theme – or themes of Blonde Poison?
The play is based on the true story of Stella Goldschlag, a German Jew who betrayed up to 3000 fellow Jews in WW2.
She herself was tortured and betrayed, and when offered the choice of either being sent to Auschwitz with her parents or working as a “catcher” for the Gestapo she took the obvious option.
The issues that arise are relevant to areas of conflict around the world today.
They relate to what makes a victim, the impact of torture on behaviour, morality and immorality and its boundaries, the ethics of self-preservation, the extent of anti-humanitarian activities in the face of personal danger and the effect of extraordinary times on essentially ordinary people.
The play ultimately poses the question “What would you have done?”
What strategies do you have to prepare and keep the energy level required for such a demanding solo performance?
I began learning the play a couple of months ago so by the time we began rehearsal I was pretty prepared, with the words at least. Jennifer Hagan, the director, and I met a few times prior to rehearsal to discuss the play and our approach to it, and I had several meetings with my accent coach to lock in the German accent.
I have a pretty high energy level already so I make sure I eat well, don’t drink, walk a lot and do plenty of vocal warm-ups. I have no talent for relaxing unfortunately!
How has the rehearsal process impacted on your interpretation of Stella Goldschlag?
I certainly had a very clear idea of how I was going to play Stella but I am delighted by the layers of detail and nuance that Jennifer has managed to encourage in the performance.
You already have a diverse range of theatre credits in your repertoire, how different has this role been?
I play quite a bit of comedy on stage so this is a welcome departure. Certainly challenging being the one responsible to pull it all off on the night, but a bit of a thrill too!
What inspires you in Blonde Poison and why?
Certainly Gail Louw’s writing. It is powerful, evocative, graphic and above all, authentic!
Do you have any views on the state of contemporary theatre?
I’m most excited by what is happening in indie theatre right now. What we are seeing is consistently high production and performance values, both in musical and straight theatre, sadly for very little monetary reward for those involved!
What are your joys away from the world of theatre?
My family, reading, cryptic crosswords and long walks with my dog!
Don’t miss the opportunity to see Belinda Giblin’s fine performance in Gail Louw’s superbly written Blonde Poison.
28 July – 15 August, 2015