Q&A with Candice van Litsenborgh

We welcomed Candice van Litsenborgh to the SBAM family recently! Welcome Candice! We hope you feel your new home will be prosperous, warm, and of course, theatrical. Candice stars in her new play, Vacancy at the Alexander Bar Theatre. We chatted to her about this upcoming bit of romance-come-tragicomedy-come-physical-theatre.

Q1: Tell us a little more about Vacancy, your new play.

Vacancy: a quiet romance, is our 3rd theatre piece under the Canned Rice Productions banner. The first was Understudy Blues, a musical comedy cabaret, followed by From The Heart, an autobiographical drama about June Carter Cash,with live music woven into the story.

The two characters, Eleanor and Gavin, are two lonely people who live next door to each other in an apartment block next to a park. They’re both a bit socially awkward, but that doesn’t stop them from living full and rich lives – even if some of it is a complete fantasy.

The show relies entirely on music, soundscape and physicality to create mood, environment and tell the story. We both love animated films and one thing we noticed was that some of the most powerful story telling has no dialogue at all. Think of the beginning of Up, Wall-E and most of the Pixar short films. So this is our version of a Pixar short, with real people, for stage and not as short, with a little pinch of French romance (think Amelie).

Q2: How has it been working with your partner, Richard Wright-Firth, for this production?

We met on stage at the 48 hour play festival and other than a brief kids edutainment show around the same time we haven’t been on stage together again. We’ve been wanting to perform together for years but the opportunity never arose. So we created it instead.

The more we work together, the more we’re able to define our roles in Canned Rice. We trust and respect each other’s skills, our thoughts about what we’re trying to say and why we feel the story is important and that’s what gets us through any major difficulties. It can be tough wearing so many different hats within the company and also separating the two relationships. The important thing is having an outside eye, so we brought on Claire-Louise Worby to direct. Sometimes you need a tie-breaker: a question that leads to a better decision or just the reassurance that what you’ve created together is actually translating from discussion to stage the way you intended.

Q3: You and your partner created this play. What is your process?

We started off with two separate shows. Richard had a really strong and melancholy image in mind and wanted to find the full story of the man that went with the image. I had written half a play years ago and abandoned it because there was something missing and I couldn’t figure out what it was. As he explored his story and spoke about wanting to create something that transcended the need for language and focused instead on non-verbal communication and physicality, I realized the title of my play suited his better.

From there I stripped my story down and he built his up until it came to a logical next step, which is the framework of the show, and then, using the skills of Wayne Joshua of Africa Audio Post, we built the soundscape.

Q4: You seem to have quite a diverse CV. Do you have one particular area that you enjoy most? Musicals? Straight plays? Drama? Comedy? 

I love exploring different aspects of performance and recently I’ve also started putting my writing out there. I’m definitely an eternal student and I don’t think this is a career where you’re ever done learning and growing. Every skill you acquire adds something to you – personally and professionally. I do have a special place in my heart for Shakespeare and I feel most at home doing roles like Helena in a Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I have the most fun doing ridiculous farce. I’ll drop everything to be in a Sondheim musical but my favourite role so far was in a Greek tragedy – playing Clytemnestra. I don’t think I’ll ever settle for one “favourite” because there’s still too much to discover.

Don’t forget to book your tickets for Vacancy here.

Image: Candice van Litsenborgh

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