After a successful season in Wellington earlier this year, deconstructionist play Lies opens this Saturday 6th September at The Basement. Last week I sat down with one of its leads, the enchanting Lara Fishel-Chisholm, to discuss her past and present projects.
Lara’s publicist told me to meet her at the charming Alleluya café on Karangahape Road. Come 11.55AM I found myself waiting there with a flat white in hand realising I wasn’t actually sure how I would spot Lara when she arrived, for all I knew she could have been there already! In a desperate state I quickly did a google search of her name and landed on her Auckland Actors page. Prepped with a (hopefully) recent photo of her I sat down and mentally prepared my questions for the multi-faceted star.
When Lara promptly arrived at midday I realised I needn’t have worried. The seasoned dramatist strolled in looking every bit a recognisable performer, in large sunglasses and an oversized coat. Feeling slightly intimidated I gestured her over, only to be met by one of the most genuine and conversational entertainers I’ve encountered.
Despite primarily wanting to talk to Lara about her upcoming show, Lies, and past theatre works, I couldn’t help but start out our chat with a few questions about Shortland Street – from which I had immediately recognised her from my aforesaid stalking. Lara was not surprised. Despite her acclaimed work in countless other shows, she admitted that whenever a biography or anything of the type had to be prepared, her now four year old Shortland Street guest role is the first thing mentioned. In fact, Lara had actually just flown in from Canada the day before and upon writing ‘Actor’ on her customs form, had to endure the American Immigrations Officer google her while she tried to explain the premise of the hospital soap with “bleary, red as eyes” and a bad hangover.
Not just an actor, the Lies star is also a choreographer and director. While handy in the theatre world, Lara explained to me that this causes quite a problem when it comes to filling out the previously mentioned immigration forms. Ultimately Lara sees herself as an “enabler of theatre and performance”, however she unfortunately realises that if she tried to write that on a customs form, she might get a bit of a “what the fuck” reaction.
This mash up of talents is what helped Lara create her popular ‘Terror Shows’. The shows, run through Lara’s own dance troop called Dynamotion, are her “baby” (presumably second to her actual toddler). Delightfully relatable because the dancing has that ”kind of a little bit shit feeling” to it, they are “super ridiculous and funny” stories consisting of soundtracks that are a “collective mix of mostly pop songs but also classical and heavier stuff depending what we need”. So far to date Lara has produced four of the pop-culture influenced terror shows and shows no signs of stopping. Her next “plan/pipe-dream” is to take her troop of ‘dactors’ - “we’ve coined a new term called ‘dactors’ - dancing actors” - and their latest hit Terror Highway to abroad festival crowds.
Before any of that can happen though, Lara is first the Movement Director (though she would have preferred to be the “Movement Mistress”) for the upcoming Auckland Theatre Company show, Jesus Christ Superstar, and one of four actors in Lies. Director Nisha Madhan and Lara originally meet while studying drama together at Unitec and first worked together on the play Cowboy Mouth in 2012. From then they’ve consistently successfully collaborated – they were recently Finalists in the ‘Standout Performer’ and ‘Most Original Concept’ categories of the Dunedin Fringe Awards for This is My Real Job - “a solo show [presented] at my mum and dads house”. Their latest effort, Lies, “is a study in failing, winning, cheating and (as the title would suggest) lying”. Bringing out the “naughty or cheeky” in all of them, Lara describes Lies as “high energy, hopefully funny” and definitely “award winning”.
Feeling exhausted from simply imagining her busy lifestyle (and also realising I was late for class), I disappointedly drew my interview with Lara Fishel-Chisholm to a close. As a parting question, I asked Lara how she would sell her current project to What’s Good Blog readers. After some deliberation Lara used some pretty unarguable logic - “well you might miss out on seeing the best thing you’ve ever seen!”
To avoid such a fate, get your tickets for Lies at www.iticket.co.nz/events/2014/sep/the-town-centre-lies