GETTING TO KNOW: CRAIG ALEXANDER

Craig Alexander is an award-winning actor, writer, film and theatre maker with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Acting from CSU. He has an extensive history touring throughout regional centres with Riverina based Gearstick Theatre; the company which he co-founded and led as Artistic Director for almost ten years. He has held senior arts leadership positions including Creative Producer for Jigsaw Theatre Company, General Manager for Canberra Youth Theatre and Manager for Jetty Memorial Theatre. Recent stage credits at The Street Theatre include: Exclusion; Venus in Fur; Cold Light; War of the Worlds, Tourmaline; Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol; and, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (Pigeonhole Theatre). Recent Screen credits include: Dead Heart (Channel 7/Beyond) Dirt (Next In Line Films – Best Actor award at the inaugural Fleurieue Film Festival) The Photographer (thehorse.media – Best Actor Canberra Short Film Festival 2018), Life (Short Poppy Productions), Victimas (O’Hallmhurain Films), several national TVC campaigns, and comedy series Trainee Bomb Squad. Craig is currently developing, with Nick Stannard, a horror-comedy feature and adapting several classic horror tales for the stage.

Photo Credit: Shelly Higgs

THE STREET TALKED TO CRAIG DURING REHEARSALS FOR HIS STARRING ROLE IN ST NICHOLAS OPENING AT THE STREET THEATRE ON THE 5TH OF JUNE AND BEING STREAMED LIVE VIA VIMEO.

YOU ARE PERFORMING THE ROLE OF AN UNNAMED THEATRE CRITIC IN CONOR MCPHERSON’S ST NICHOLAS, A MAN WHO MAKES A DEAL WITH MODERN DAY VAMPIRES. TELL US MORE.

On first read, St Nicholas struck me as a great example of exploring the horror genre on stage. What better way to do that than to tell a spooky tale about contemporary vampires, a tale that twists and teases it’s way through a fun take on the vampire mythos. But it is actually so much more than that. It’s about failure, desire, the true nature of evil, the art of the story itself, the power of words, and the very human want to be recognised as something special.

WHERE DOES CRAIG ALEXANDER MEET THE CRITIC IN THE PLAY?

I guess there’s a love of story, of a beautifully written tale and the desire to share them with an audience. The critic also has a wicked sense of humour, something I definitely share with him. To be honest though, we both share similar insecurities, I just hope I do a better job of dealing with them…

TALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF BRINGING YOUR CHARACTER TO LIFE. WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS IN A WORK LIKE THIS?

It’s all about the words. It all starts with great words and I’m so lucky to be working with McPherson’s. He has a keen eye for story and such skill in bringing out the shadow, deftly balancing the light and dark. From there it’s a deep dive into the story itself, the world of the critic and, of course, the accent. I only hope I do it justice, and that I don’t bring the wrath of Ireland down upon my Dublin brogue…

WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO A SUCCESSFUL AND FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AN ACTOR AND DIRECTOR?

In this instance, fending off divorce…

YOU ARE JOINED ON STAGE BY MUSICIAN DEN HANRAHAN. HOW ARE YOU DEVELOPING THE ACTOR-MUSICIAN RELATIONSHIP?

I’ve known Den for a couple of years now, and we’ve been talking about collaborating for some time, when I suggested St Nicholas he jumped at it. He’s as much a storyteller as I am and so we’ve approached the work, under Shelly’s guidance of course, from that angle; moment to moment, how do you progress and serve the story. There’s a fun in the partnership, back and forthing in moments where the world of the musician blends into the world of the critic.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING DURING THE PANDEMIC AS YOU PREPARE TO PERFORM LIVE FROM THE STREET STAGE TO AN AUDIENCE IN THEIR HOMES.

When the whole shutdown of the world came about and we decided to explore a streamed version of the production, we scrambled to finally finish our garage conversion, to have a suitable working space, creating ourselves a little black box theatre. Once that was sorted it became about how to create a theatrical production for the camera, how to share this story down the barrel of a lens.  While we can’t wait to share this in front of an actual theatre audience when restrictions finally do lift, it’s been a fun challenge to incorporate a camera almost as another character in the piece.

WITHOUT GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY, DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PART IN THE PLAY?

I particularly enjoy the critic’s direct address to the audience, how he taunts and teases them in his effortlessly cynical way.

ST NICHOLAS WAS FIRST PRODUCED IN 1997. WHY DO YOU THINK IT REMAINS A WORK FOR OUR TIMES?

For a story about vampires, St Nicholas is a very human story. A story about a man’s failings and desire to be something, to be special, to have a story to tell before it is too late. It asks questions about the nature of evil, of power, of desire. Whether or not it answers any of those questions, I’m not sure, but it has a lot of fun asking them.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STREET.

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked quite a lot with The Street, so much so that sometimes it feels like a second home. Their support, not only for myself, but Canberra creatives all over, has been instrumental in my development as an artist and I can’t thank them enough.

WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?

Artists adapting to a world without a live audience. All over I see creatives working hard to create, to process these strange times and share themselves with the wider world, share their stories in whatever way they can.

I’m also moved by this “pause” we’ve all experienced and I truly hope we come out of it with a better perspective on our role towards each other and, more importantly, to the planet itself.