“There’s a cat outside!” Despite the interview having just ended, MKA’s Artistic Director Tobias Manderson-Galvin has declined to immediately plunge back into rehearsals (he is directing half of the theatre company’s upcoming double-bill, Nathaniel Moncrieff’s Tinkertown) in order to call back with this announcement. “A cat just jumped down here and is watching us.”
The information is relevant (more or less) because, two minutes prior, Manderson-Galvin is closing the interview with the promise that MKA would offer discounted tickets to those audience members who brought a cat along to the shows. “Well, MKA puts on the sort of plays you can bring your cat to,” he explains. “If it’s a black cat, just don’t tell us, as theatre people are notoriously superstitious. But I’m happy to offer discounted tickets for people with cats. I wouldn’t say free,” Manderson-Galvin is bone dry here. “By discount I mean, about twice the cost of a normal ticket.”
Tinkertown (the other play making up MKA’s double bill is Bridget Mackey’s Hose) certainly seems set to tick those boxes Manderson-Galvin thinks will satisfy cats, including “a bit of action” and “people suffering”. The play follows Chester as he visits his teenage daughter on his first day out of prison, accidentally shoots his ex-wife’s sister and finds himself back on the run from the police, this time in the stark expanse of the Australian outback with his daughter in tow.
Tinkertown’s playwright, Moncrieff, wrote another MKA production: 2011’s successful Sleepyhead. Manderson-Galvin recounts: “After Sleepyhead, [Moncrieff] said to me, ‘Look, I’ve written this other play, and it’s got all of the most fucked up stuff I’ve ever written in it. The last time I sent it off, I had been talking to a director in Sydney, and they were really excited about it until I sent them the script. They haven’t spoken to me since then.’” Although that particular play has yet to see the light of day (“You don’t want to know about that play,” Manderson-Galvin is adament), he asked Moncrieff if he had anything else, and received Tinkertown, which he describes as being part Australian Gothic and part Cohen brothers-style black comedy. Tinkertown fortunately “ticked all the boxes,” Manderson-Galvin asserts. “It’s a stunning play.”
MKA has done a commendable job of putting out quality productions over the year and a bit that the company has been operating, especially with the closure of their original base. “We have one place on the horizon which we could move into in about three years,” Manderson-Galvin says, “After these two plays [Tinkertown and Hose] we’re tentatively locked into somewhere for a season of four shows, but no. Nothing permanent.”
Despite MKA’s current nomadic existence, Manderson-Galvin has ambitious plans for the company in 2012: “I said when we first officially launched at the end of 2010 that I wanted to connect with South East Asian companies in places like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok,” he says. “One of the shows that we’ll have later on this year will be from a Singaporean playwright. So I’m excited that that’s happening.”
Sounds like MKA is in for another year of intense – if rewarding – hard work. Manderson-Galvin acquiesces. “I hope so.”
Inpress Magazine, Issue #1212