A Quick Chat With Belinda Giblin, star of Blonde Poison

Belinda Giblin is a distinguished actor of the Australian stage and screen. Her most recent theatre credits include Daylight Saving (Eternity Playhouse) and Dark Voyager (Ensemble Theatre). She pops up often on TV, having played regular roles in Sons and Daughters, MDA, Home and Away, Heartbreak High, and The Sullivans.  Next, she will be appearing in Blonde Poison, a solo play at Sydney’s Old Fitz. We asked her 20 questions about her life and career!

How would you describe your occupation to someone you’ve just met?
As an actor I interpret a variety of characters and perform them for an audience. I tend not to judge them. I let the audience do that!  For me the experience of being an actor involves joy and fear in equal measure.

What was your very first on-stage experience?
When I was six I played Buttons in Cinderella in a school play. It was the first in a string of boy roles I played throughout my childhood. I was a bit of a tomboy (two older brothers) and I had a very husky, breathy voice. Interestingly, the first professional acting work I did was playing young boy roles for ABC radio!

Belinda Giblin
Belinda Giblin

Who are some of your favourite playwrights?
Alan Bennett, Moliere, Congreve, Sheridan, Arthur Miller, Goldoni (I love Commedia), Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard, Noel Coward, Sam Shepard, Willy Russel, Michael Frayne, Alan Ayckbourne, John Misto.

What has been your favourite moment in the theatre – as an audience member?
Most recently, Turandot, for the AO. Thrilling music, thrilling production. It helped that the part of Calaf was played by a very sexy Yonghoon Lee!

What was your best (and/or worst!) onstage mishap?
I was on tour with the play “Steaming”, a play with six women in a London bathhouse.  I wore nothing except for a  white towel and a pair of stilettos! Through a monologue a very large,heavy hoop earing I was wearing ripped through my ear and fell to the floor. I was the only one who didn’t realize what had happened. As the scene progressed my fellow actors, and the audience apparently, looked on with increasing horror!  My face, hair and towel were covered in blood. The ear is a very vascular organ it would seem!

What’s the most exciting thing about Australian theatre?
The growth of Independent theatre and the appearance of a whole bunch of new, very talented performers, particularly in musical theatre.

What’s the most frustrating thing about Australian theatre?
The fact that those contributing to Indy theatre, in every field, get paid a pittance, if anything at all.

Who inspires you?
My children and grandchildren.

Whose advice do you always take?
My son and daughter!

You’re a trainer, coach, and speech writer as well – how did you get into these fields?
About 10 years ago I suspected that my acting career may slow down a bit and that I might need to re-invent myself to some extent. I was buggered if I was going to let years of accrued life experience, talent and skills go to waste so, at the suggestion of one of my then acting students, I entered the Corporate training arena, and became an accredited Facilitator, coach and executive speech writer. In my acting “rest” periods I travel all over Australia running workshops and meeting a lot of extraordinary people.

What’s your party trick?
Being the only non-drinker in the room!

What do you do to relax?
Read; cryptic crosswords; walk the dog.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Facebook.

What’s your favourite post-show snack?
Lots of water

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
Right where I am.

Belinda Giblin.
Belinda Giblin.

Can you tell us a little bit about the play you’re about to do – Blonde Poison?
It’s based on the true story of a German Jewish woman, Stella Goldschlag, during WW2, who betrayed up to 3,000 fellow Jews. She herself, was betrayed and tortured while she was living illegaly in war torn Berlin and when offered the chance of saving herself and her parents from the death camps she agreed to be a “greifer” for the Gestapo and inform on Jews in hiding. In this one woman show she reflects on her life from tortured victim, gentle lover, and loving daughter to betrayer of friends and cruel killer. What motivates her is what the play is about as she waits to be interviewed by a journalist she knew as a child. Maybe her last chance at redemption. Ultimately the play poses the question “What would you have done?”

What sets working on a one-woman show apart from ensemble pieces? Is that difference thrilling or difficult?
Working on a one-woman show is both thrilling and terrifying! Obviously being the only actor on stage comes with a huge responsibility and a great deal of pressure since you are “it”, but it also allows for a lot of creative freedom and control. This play is an exceptional piece of writing and a real gift for an actor.  I’m thrilled to have Jennifer Hagan directing me. We have worked together before and  have a great creative relationship.

The play is based on the story of a real person, Stella Goldschlag. Have you been researching her life?
Yes. I have taken 2 months off all work prior to rehearsal just to learn the play—all 90 minutes of it!- but I’ve also done extensive research, working on the accent, meeting up with people who were in Europe during the war, watching films and documentaries and reading books on the subject, visiting the Jewish Museum. Anything I could get my hands on. My husband was born in Germany so I have connection by association!

Do you have any particular memories of the Old Fitz space?
I’ve been going to the Old Fitz theatre for years under its various guises. I love the space for the intimacy and immediacy it provides the audience. It is the perfect space for this play.

When and where can we see Blonde Poison?
At the Old Fitzroy Theatre from 28th July to the 15th August.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

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