Ethan Gibson is a Canberra born actor who has been working for the last ten years and is well known to ACT audiences for his work with NUTS, The Street Theatre, Free Rain and Canberra Youth Theatre (CYT).
Ethan made his professional debut on stage at The Street Theatre in 2014 playing the lead role in Scandalous Boy, also written and directed by David Atfield.
He graduated from NIDA in 2017. Whilst at NIDA he was fortunate enough to work with many leading theatre practitioners, including Phillip Quast, Judy Davis, and Kristine Landon- Smith.
Ethan is thrilled to be back home for Exclusion and to be working with The Street once again.
The Street talked to Ethan Gibson as he prepares to take to The Street stage in David Atfield’s new play, ‘Exclusion’
YOU HAVE RECENTLY RETURNED TO CANBERRA AFTER GRADUATING FROM NIDA . WHAT IS PERFORMING, BEING AN ACTOR TO YOU?
Performing is first and foremost about entertainment. I try not to take it too seriously, my job is to tell a story. I try to do it as believably as possible whilst at the same time keeping people guessing and surprising them with my choices.
EXCLUSION IS A COMPLEX INTERSECTION OF THE PERSONAL AND POLITICAL, WOVEN INTO A UNIVERSAL STORY ABOUT THE PERSONAL COMPROMISES WE ALL MAKE IN THE PURSUIT OF OUR CAREERS. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THIS BEING A WORK FOR OUR TIMES?
For so long people from marginalized groups of society have had their voices squashed. They’ve been forced to conform with hetero – normative protagonists and never seen people of different sexuality, race and culture portrayed on screen and stage. Exclusion is a timely play. 2018 has seen the rise of many new works representing new ideas and challenging current practices that are still legal in Australia. I feel very lucky to be part of change in the theatre climate of Australia.
YOU ARE SOON TO PLAY THE CHARACTER OF CRAIG, A YOUNG GAY POLITICAL STAFFER IN CANBERRA. TALK US THROUGH BRINGING YOUR CHARACTER TO LIFE AND YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS IN A WORK LIKE THIS.
My creative process is simple. I listen to the director, I figure out what my character wants and needs are. And then I play the scene with my other actors. Things like voice, physicality and demeanour all develop and grow from there. The important thing is not to have any expectations but to be open to what is happening on the rehearsal floor.
THERE ARE FIVE ACTORS IN THE WORK. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN WORKING AS PART OF AN ENSEMBLE?
I look for collaboration, generosity, patience, humour, friendship, cynicism, boldness, bravery……is that too many things? I think above all I look for humour. You need to be able to laugh, even when things are going to shit.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO A SUCCESSFUL AND FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AN ACTOR AND DIRECTOR?
A director and an Actor need to have trust above all else. Sometimes this comes quickly, sometimes it takes working on a few projects to develop it. An actor needs to feel brave and fearless…confident and by that same token a director must know how to get the best out of the actor in the space.
WITHOUT GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY, DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PART OF THE PLAY?
My favourite part of the play is the ending. I think the message of this play is very important. It took us a while to figure out exactly what we were trying to say, but David had an Epiphany at 2am and I think he is spot on. I think it shines through in the final scene.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO BRING NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK TO THE STAGE?
It’s critical. I’m a huge advocate for new work. Things needs to change and develop in contrast to what’s happening in our society. It’s something I’m trying to ask myself more and more.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN AN AUDIENCE?
Applause, laughter and constant validation that I’m doing a good job! No…..maybe just laughter.
HOW IMPORTANT IS A PROFESSIONAL THEATRE/SCREEN INDUSTRY IN CANBERRA?
Very important. Especially now with the funding cuts and things becoming increasingly difficult to keep talented artists working professionally. The industry must keep growing and we need to keep adapting and finding new ways of paying people for their services. Canberra is a beautiful place with a wonderfully progressive community. The screen climate is growing but there is more to be done.
ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS? IS THERE A PROCESS THAT YOU ALWAYS LIKE TO GO THROUGH BEFORE STEPPING OUT ON STAGE?
I don’t drink coffee several hours before I go on. I remember some of the positive pieces of advice given to me by people I trust. And then I promise myself that I’ll have fun and take risks.
WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?
At the moment I’m being inspired by my fellow NIDA graduates who are attempting to carve a path in the industry. It’s tough. Their resilience and determination is amazing.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND WATCHING?
I’m currently reading Boys will be Boys by Clementine Ford. And I’m watching Norseman on Netflix.