GETTING TO KNOW: KETURA BUDD

Ketura first worked with The Street as stage manager for To Silence in 2012, and earlier this year for Pigman’s Lament and The Sonnets Out Loud.  Ketura has worked as a production and stage manager with several Melbourne independent theatre companies including MKA: Theatre of New Writing (Lucky, Richard II, The Unspoken Word is Joe, Dogmeat) Second Cousins (The Judgement) Spark Production Company (The Birds) and The Zooey Louise Moonbeam Shakespeare Company (Calamity) and was assistant director of the Australian premiere of Pursued by Bear’s High Fidelity: The Musical at Chapel Off Chapel. Ketura has worked on shows around Australia at the Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals, as well as on the Neon Festival at Melbourne Theatre Company and the Independent Season at Griffin Theatre in Sydney. Ketura is a graduate of Melbourne Polytechnic and the Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art.

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Ketura Budd talks to The Street midway through The Faithful Servant season.

YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN MANY ASPECTS OF THEATRE-MAKING INCLUDING ONSTAGE AS AN ACTOR – HOW & WHY DID YOU END UP IN STAGE MANAGEMENT?

My first stage management job was at The Street- an acting teacher of mine had recommended me to Caroline and it was a complete surprise to find myself working as a stage manager. All of my stage management jobs since have come about very organically… It’s a bit of a happy accident to be working in a capacity that I really enjoy, but that I didn’t know anything about before my first job and had no idea I wanted to pursue.

WHAT FOR YOU ARE THE ESSENTIAL SKILLS AND QUALITIES NECESSARY OF A STAGE MANAGER?

Adaptability and versatility, because every show is different, every director and actor needs different things. A stage manager needs to be able to communicate artistically and technically, and to both anticipate problems and know how to solve them when they arise…. And in theatre they usually do!!

THE FAITHFUL SERVANT IS A DRAMA SET ON THE STAGE OF STREET ONE IN TRAVERSE AND THERE ARE MULTIPLE ENTRIES EXITS, COSTUME CHANGES AND DETAILED PROPS BUSINESS. HOW DO YOU FIT INTO THE PICTURE IN TERMS OF MAKING THESE ELEMENTS WORK?

During rehearsals I kept track of every prop, costume, set element and character entrance and exit. I have a fat notebook full of sketches and notes that I created and then constantly referred to! As we worked I would let Caroline know if something needed to be blocked in to end up in the right place for the next scene, or if someone had exited out of one entrance and came back in through another that wasn’t going to be possible in Street One. Now that the shows are up and running, I do a lot of ninja-esque creeping around to move props between offstage areas and help with quick costume changes.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING IN THE REHEARSAL ROOM WORKING ALONGSIDE DIRECTOR CAROLINE STACEY, AND CREATIVE TEAM TO REALISE THIS WORK?

Inspirational! Caroline has an incredible amount of energy and she was completely unflappable in the face of such an epic work. She is incredibly skilled at allowing the actors to find their own answers in the work, while leading them deeper, asking more questions and fostering her own directorial sensibility within the show. After working with independent companies for a few years, it’s great to be part of a bigger machine, especially as the Street has really fostered my development in a professional sense. The creative team were great to work with as well. Imogen Keen and I worked together closely, and it was lots of fun solving all the issues that arise with a work that is not only epic, but minutely detailed.

YOU ARE WORKING WITH THREE ACTORS FROM THREE DIFFERENT CITIES (MELBOURNE, CANBERRA, SYDNEY). WHAT DO YOU DO TO SUPPORT THEIR WORK INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY?

Collectively, it’s about making sure that what they need is there for them before they realise they need it, and if there’s something I’ve missed, making sure they have what they need before coming back to work on a scene. There are some things that I can worry about so they can focus on their performance, like time management, washing, getting a prop fixed etc. Individually, it’s been nice to be able to show our interstate guests a bit about Canberra, and make sure that they felt welcome and weren’t lonely. Obviously that is a perk of my job in this case because they’re lovely people!

ANY FAVOURITE MOMENTS FROM THE REHEARSAL ROOM?

PJ’s pronunciation of his one Portuguese line… We had a lot of laughs at his expense! Sorry PJ.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEMANDING ASPECT OF MOVING INTO STREET ONE FROM REHEARSALS IN STREET THREE?

The long hours! The work wasn’t particularly difficult, there was just a lot to do, a small team and a tight timeframe.

WHAT IS COMPELLING FOR YOU IN THE FAITHFUL SERVANT?

I think the relationships are the most compelling part of the drama for me. The notion of the father-daughter relationship, and… How can I talk about it without giving too much away!?  Caroline is a very interesting character to me, her life so defined by the expectations of the people around her, and her decision to forge her own path in spite of her father’s wishes.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING SHOW YOU HAVE STAGE MANAGED? WHY?

Last year I worked on a profit share show at La Mama. It was a great show and I loved working on it…. But, there was a 9 metre long, stark white table cloth that got covered in strawberries and fake blood every night. La Mama doesn’t have a washing machine, and I didn’t have a car at the time, so each night I would pack the table cloth and the costumes into two big bags and ride my bike home with one bag over each shoulder, do the washing at home, hang it out in my back yard, and pack it all up to ride back to La Mama the next night, where I would spend 2 hours ironing the table cloth before the show. I could talk about directors who have quit the day before opening night, fights between writers and directors… Every show is a challenge! But not a 9 metre white table cloth challenge.

WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?

Occasional beautiful, sunny days. I love spring and the sense of promise that’s so particular to this time of year. I also recently had an epiphany that my creativity flows from order, not chaos, so I’m inspired to create more routine time for myself to write, dance, garden, sew, sing…. And keep my office tidy.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AND WATCHING CURRENTLY?

I’m watching a really funny Irish comedy called ‘Moone Boy’ about a boy and his imaginary friend, I highly recommend it! I’m reading a book that’s sort of a collation of zines by a writer called Vanessa Berry. I recently moved house and my housemates are into heaps of authors I’m not familiar with, so it’s like having a hand selected mini library full of books that I never would known about otherwise!

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