interviewed | Tom Eason

Since graduating from Drama school, Tom Eason has worked in devised theatre (collaborative creation), for his own production company as well as Red Leap.  Every year however, he’s made time to return to his alma mater to direct the First Year’s solo shows, and last year he won the Chapman Tripp Award for Best Male Newcomer.

This week he can be seen in Red Leap’s latest production, Dust Pilgrim.  We caught up with him over the weekend to find out more about it.

Tell us more about Dust Pilgrim.

It’s a physical theatre show. It can be hard to define what ‘physical theatre’, but I guess I would say it’s a show that puts emphasis on telling a story with elements other than words (although there is probably more dialogue in this than any other Red Leap show). Ella plays Panuello a young girl who is forced into a kind of servitude by her mother, played by Alison. I play a range of characters including the memory of the Father. We have been developing Dust Pilgrim since December 2014 when we had a two week workshop, we are now at the end of our ninth week of rehearsals, which is an enormous amount of time for a New Zealand devised show.

The imagery associated with this production is lovely – how will this translate on stage?

The show is devised, which means we start with a statement of intent rather than a script. When the photos were taken and the posters designed we thought those images would realise our statement of intent. Since then, though, the show has shifted to a much darker place.

What’s your role in the production? How are you preparing for it?

I am a devisor and performer in the show. Like I said we don’t start with a script, so we are all the writer in this process, writing through making scenes and improvising. With the performance season coming up I reckon I’ll be pushed pretty hard physically, but we warm up for about two hours every morning. Yoga and stuff.

You have an ongoing relationship with your Alma mater, can you tell us more about this?

I thought this was an ‘auto correct’ mistake, but then I looked it up and it is an actual phrase. Haha! I am very interested in how the industry of theatre can evolve and become more useful for people of my generation, not just entertainment. Through trying to bring about change in the industry I realise starting with young people is the most efficient use of energy. I am invested in how Toi Whakaari wants to develop artists. Their mandate is to output graduates who can both work inside the world as it stands and have the skills to shift it where it needs to go.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?

I am going to Christchurch after this! To rehearse two different children’s shows at once. One is to be performed in Christchurch for Kidsfest and is called The Heartless Giant, the other is touring to Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre and is called The Disaster Brothers.

Tom Eason performs in DUST PILGRIM at Auckland’s Q Theatre, Thursday 4 June – Saturday 13 June.