A survey would likely reveal that when Laurie-Ann Goodwin walks into a room, 85% of the men admit to turning their heads. It would further be discovered the other 15% are liars. Laurie Ann will certainly turn heads this month, when she makes her return to the stage after nearly 10 years away, appearing in the dual roles of ‘Brooke/Vicki’ in The Huronia Players’ production of the hilarious British farce ‘Noises Off’. John Bleasby and Laurie-Ann have been car-pooling from Orillia to rehearsals in Midland since July, but sat down for a Green Room ‘Conversation’ earlier this week, where she reveals herself as a highly intelligent and articulate young woman with a clear sense of direction.
So, you walk into room full of people who don’t know you. What are the first 3 things they will assume about you?
Probably that I’m a dumb blonde! I think my smile leads many to think I don’t have much going on between my ears, that I’m just the girl next door and there’s not much of a story upstairs.
What are 3 things people should know about you?
I would like people to know that that I am a passionate advocate of the arts and that I hope to make that my life. They should know I graduated from film studies at York University, and so know a thing or two about film and film history, that I teach World Cinema at Georgian College, and that I know karate! I love to act, I can sing, and I like to teach.
You’ve appeared in a number of films as part of your university education and done some modelling. Why are we only seeing you on stage now?
I had a big decision when I was about 17 to either pursue acting in theatre or to pursue film as an art form. As part of that process, I decided to get involved in film production outside of school, and realised that I needed to learn more about the process of film making not just the acting. In doing that, I let go of my performance side. In fact, I got to the point where I felt I was too old to jump back in. Nevertheless, a friend suggested to me that I audition again, that I wasn’t too old, and that now would be a good time to dip my toe back into live theatre. Now that I have, I’m not going to look back. I feel totally reinvigorated. This has reignited my passion for acting.
Has this jump back onto the stage been more challenging than you anticipated?
Getting back into acting has made me realise that this is sort of challenge I enjoy and something for which I have a natural affinity, the problem solving, the characterisations. I love this challenge. I can tackle it head on. It has been nothing but a pleasure. The Huronia Players are a fantastic group. I am so overwhelmed with the professional approach from the props team, the set team, and to Sue Cook our director. I had been told that the Huronia Players was an exceptional group, and being part of this group has made me appreciate how true that is. I’m a very picky person, and it takes a lot for me to self-promote, but I am very proud and humbled to be part of this production. It is phenomenal.
Of course, by taking the dual roles of Brooke and Vicki in ‘Noises Off’, you’ve chosen to make your stage return largely in your underwear! That’s really throwing yourself in the deep end!
I thought of it as just another challenge. My initial reaction was; If it’s important for the play, I’ll do it. I think any good actor will respect that and accept it if it is part of the play. For me, I realise that ‘Noises Off’ is the ultimate bedroom farce. I like the challenge of bearing it all. In reality, when I’m on stage I am the character, and that character has be confident running around in her knickers and of whom they are, so it won’t take too much effort for me to do that because it’s not me, it’s the character.
‘Noises Off’ is a play about another play called ‘Nothing On’. Most of the actors must portray dual roles; an actor, and an actor who is portraying another character. You play an actress named Brooke, who in turn plays a character called Vicki. Given the stereotyping that goes on in a farce like this, how did you approach these roles?
I have to show two different people; Brooke and Vicki. Looking at Brooke, the base character, the actress who portrays Vicki; she’s somewhat seasoned in theatre but she probably gets her roles because of her looks. She’s a career-oriented woman who has no problem showing her body into order to get work. Within our play, she’s having an affair with the director. I want to show a woman who is completely absorbed in herself, rather selfish and self interested. She sees everything as a career move. I don’t think she’s particularly clever or that she is a great actress. My challenge was portraying someone who was career-oriented, confident in her body and not that great an actress. So my Brooke playing Vicki has some flawed techniques; looking out at the audience a bit, making gestures; she’s a bit stiff, a little stale. This all comes out of Brooke the actress.
You’ve spoken to me before about the stereotypical portrayal of women in literature and particularly in film. Does it grate you to play a woman shown in such a stereotypical manner?
That has been perhaps the biggest challenge for me. It took me quite a while to recognise the plight of women as portrayed in various art forms. The reality is that women tend to play stock characters that don’t have any depth. To be honest, my characters in ‘Noises Off’, Brooke and Vicki, are not given much depth. It seems that if you are a young beautiful woman you don’t need to be anything else but young and beautiful. You just need visual appeal, something that is very fleeting. So my goal was to find some depth for my characters. It’s tough, it’s tough being the sex object of the play. It’s not who I am at all. However, I also realise that all the characters in ‘Noise Off’ are written to perform a certain stereotypical function. This is a huge farce so there isn’t much room for any depth, but I still wanted to find whatever I could within Brooke. So as I said, although Brooke is the sexpot of the play, she has goals, she has a career, she knows how to advance her goals. I’ve latched on to that. She’s almost cut-throat in getting work, keeping work and getting more work. I try to bring this out. I want Brooke to have reasons for every action.
After Noises Off, where are you going next?
This opportunity has made me realise that to not act again would be to deny what is in my heart. ‘Noises Off’ has opened the floodgates and made me recognise that above everything else I love acting and I’m not going to stop. This just the beginning for me, the beginning of many, many roles; perhaps on stage, perhaps in film.