10 Quick Questions in 10 Quiet Minutes: Belinda Locke is Maureen O’Hara

OPENS TONIGHT at The Judith Wright Centre

Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night At Home

Guy Frawley checked in with Belinda Locke, to find out more about her show, opening tonight at The Judy

Maureen O'Hara Adam Finch Photography

You must be excited about opening tonight and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night At Home, where has this show already taken you?

Yes, feeling very excited for the opening of the show! I began working on this piece in 2012 and toured a short work-in-progress to Crack Theatre Festival as part of This is Not Art Festival in Newcastle.


How has the show grown during your recent theatre festival runs?

This piece has grown from a 20-minute showing to a 50-minute work and delves deeper into the world I create on stage. The audience gets a deeper insight into the life of the female protagonist, who is somewhere between myself, and a persona I take on inspired by the Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara. I have also researched deeper into Maureen O’Hara herself, a bit of her life as well as the films she starred in during the late 1930s up until 1946, the time in which this performance is set.


Maureen O'Hara Adam Finch Photography

I understand the original idea for this performance was sparked by the Peter Stackpole photograph of the same name, what was it about this shot that initially flared your creativity?

The shot itself is of Maureen O’Hara, apparently relaxing at home whilst heavily made up, wearing a white fur jacket and sewing. The image is very glamorous, but left me wondering what she would actually be doing and thinking if she were relaxing at home.  What is it that we are like when we are alone and how does this differ to the public presentation of ourselves. I believe that this is something that everyone can relate to, but perhaps is most visible when we think of those who are in the public eye.


If you’ll ignore the photographic pun, from that first flash of inspiration how did the developing process play out?

I started thinking about how to translate the concept into a scenario I had experienced in my own life. I rarely get a chance to indulge in taking a bath, but when I do it is an intimate moment where I can enjoy being alone with my thoughts. I then began devising scenes in the rehearsal room with the assistance of my stage manager Claire Jarvis, and Anna Molnar, who worked as a dramaturge on the first creative development in 2012. The showing in Newcastle gave me the chance to test some of the initial ideas on a live audience and gain feedback before working towards a longer performance for a season at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.


To what extent, if any, have you attempted to attain accuracy in your portrayal of Maureen O’Hara the individual? Or has the idea behind the photo and not so much the individual been your muse?

The piece has been inspired by the photo, and by Maureen O’Hara as an individual – from what I have viewed of her work in film and information available to the public. Initially, the photo was just a starting point, but Maureen is much more present in the show as it currently stands now. I do not claim any degree of ‘accuracy’ in my portrayal though – as I said I believe there is a combination of both of Maureen and myself in what you will see on stage.


As both director and performer how restricting did you find it to build your character and performance around a real individual?

I tried not to get caught up in this too much – it wasn’t my aim to become a replica of Maureen, but more to investigate the concept of public vs. private life. The aesthetic of the era appeals to me, and I am interested by how Maureen as an iconic female actress was portrayed in film. Many of the roles she played involved immensely restrictive ideas of gender due to the scripting, however she manages to maintain a sense of strength and autonomy that defies these expectations.


Maureen O'Hara. Image by Adam Finch.

How much of yourself do you feel you have worked into the characterisation and performance?

I believe that actors always invest a certain degree of themselves into a character. As this performance is based upon the idea of being alone with oneself, there is a great deal of my own experience that becomes part of the persona on stage.


I assume from the synopsis that music will be playing an important part in Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night At Home, was it a conscious decision to include modern music for effect? If so how have you primarily tried to use this?

I use both music from the era and contemporary pieces for differing effect. They are used to enhance the changes in mood during the performance, but also to connect the audience to time of the 1940’s through to now. The experience I represent on stage is one of the past, but also something that continues to be enacted everyday in our lives.


“A Woman. A Bath.” Should we be preparing ourselves for any ‘Sons of Sin’ style bathtub antics?

Hehehe! This will be ‘good clean fun’.


How quiet is a night in with Maureen really?

You will have to come to the show to see!

Wed 19 to Sat 29 June 7:30pm


Duration: 50 mins, no interval

Foyer Bar opens 6:30pm


Book online


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