Ahead of her performances in Master Class, the actor explains her preparation for the role of La Divina.
How did you prepare to play such a well-known, yet controversial figure as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Master Class?
I attended a week of acting master classes in 2014 with Elizabeth Kemp from The Actor’s Studio. In preparation I studied everything I could about Callas and fell in love with her. The beauty of the process was that I had to play Maria as a child and as an adult, exploring all her ‘shadows’ in a series of improvisations.
Callas famously doesn’t sing in the play. How do you portray the musicality of a character with such a unique but invisible talent?
Through the rhythm of her speech, the way she articulates her musical instructions to the students, the way she talks about colour and staying true to what composer’s wanted.
How do you think the character of Callas changes as the play develops?
At the beginning she is a very different woman to the Callas we see at the end. She arrives at Juilliard not only to teach but to prove to herself that she is still valid. Over the course of the play, we see into the soul of Callas as the ambitious, young, fat singer who sacrificed her youth and married a man 30 years her senior, before transforming herself into an operatic Goddess. By the end, we see Cecilia Sophia Anna Maria Kalogeropolou, the woman not the diva, stripped bare.
Does the play consider why Callas stopped singing when she did?
The play suggests that Maria stopped performing because all she wanted, after years of maintaining such a high level of performance both physically and spiritually, was to be married to Aristotle Onassis and to have a child of her own.
Master Class is at the Hayes Theatre Co Sydney, August 11-30 and at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne, September 1-13