Two of Australia’s prominent actresses, Robyn Nevin and Pamela Rabe, are taking the plunge and moving into unknown territory in Sydney and Melbourne.
We have become so used to the great divide between theatre in Sydney and Melbourne that when an actress of the stature of Robyn Nevin says she is leaving Sydney to base herself in Melbourne it seems as though she ought to apply for a visa and have her passport endorsed.
But even as Nevin is planning to travel south, Pamela Rabe, an actress of more than equal stature, has forsaken Melbourne and moved her base of operations to Sydney, relinquishing — for a time — the company of her husband, Roger Hodgman, artistic director of the Melbourne Theatre Company.
Except for next month, when both she and Robyn Nevin are appearing in MTC productions. Robyn Nevin, the diminutive powerhouse, is playing the role of Bunny, in John Guare’s bizarre comedy ‘The House of Blue Leaves’, written originally in 1971 and revived to great acclaim on Broadway last year.
Pamela Rabe, tall and febrile, takes on the role of Josie in one of the later plays of Eugene O’Neill, ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten‘. This play, written in that final outburst of creativity before O’Neill succumbed to Parkinson’s disease, prefigures his later attempt in ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ at coming to terms with his mother’s long-term drug addiction for which he blamed himself.
‘The House of Blue Leaves’, directed by Mr Hodgman, opens on 3 November at the Playhouse in the Victorian Arts Centre. A week later ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’ premieres at Russell Street.
Ms Rabe, who came to Australia from Canada in 1983 when Roger Hodgman was appointed head of drama at the Victorian College of the Arts, sees many similarities between Australia and Canada, including the sibling rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, which she likes to the gulf between Toronto and Montreal.
“Canada tried to build up a facade of splitting our capital into two cities, and you’re forced to choose which one you’re going to go to and in making the choice it’s like you’ve made a pledge of allegiance. So that doing something as simple as going up and getting a Job in Sydney required that I shift my life and say: ‘I am now based in Sydney’. I knew I had to do that to get a look-in because I knew nobody was going to come down and have a look at me in Melbourne,” Ms Rabe says. Read More