Donna Cormack-Thomson has landed a leading role in hilarious comedy, Bad Jews. She plays the only non-Jewish character in the play, which is currently showing at the Fugard Theatre. We caught up with her in between performances to chat about her role and the multi award-winning play.
Q1: Tell us a little about the show, and what drew you to it.
Bad Jews is set in New York, and the narrative follows the story of two brothers (Liam and Jonah), their cousin Daphna and Liam’s girlfriend Melody. They come together after their grandfathers funeral (who was a holocaust survivor) and essentially they argue over who should receive a family heirloom, their grandfather’s Chai [inheritance]. The play is about family, loss, and talks about how society has affected modern Judaism. I watched the play last year; it left me in stitches and with a lot to think about. What drew me to the play was perhaps the similarities in my own family dynamics. I think it really reaches to a universal audience, everyone can relate to family grief and conflict at some point in their lives I believe.
Q2: How did you approach your character?
Melody is an all-American girl from Delaware, and Daphna’s polar opposite. She is not particularly intelligent, but she is not unaware of what’s going on. The challenge for me in approaching this character was firstly technical in that I have pitched her voice much higher than my own, and along with an American accent, this requires a lot more breath. The other challenge was to avoid creating a stereotypical caricature of her character, which can be very easy to fall into. I try to keep in mind her innate humanness, and also how her own ignorance affects the narrative of the play.
Q3: How have you found working in a comedic role?
To be honest, I find comedy a lot harder to perform than drama. Comic timing is a skill I have yet to master, but this has been an excellent experience to learn. What I have learnt most is to remain sincere. The comedy is in the text itself, and the minute you start to play for laughs you lose the comedy.
Q4: What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal period?
The entire thing! The whole experience from start to finish has been so much fun, and I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and director to work with. They have become like family in the short period that we have worked together. And also of course, such a privilege to work at The Fugard. I really believe it is one of the best theatres in South Africa. Their facilities are amazing, and they treat all their employees so well.
To book to watch Donna, and the rest of Bad Jew‘s stellar cast of up-and-coming young actors, book here.