- Willie

Q: Why are you an actor?

Peter: My earliest memories from when I was a kid relate to films and TV in some way. Always when I was a kid acting was my thing. All through school and high school I acted but round about 17 or 18 I dismissed it as something that you couldn’t do as a career. So, for 4 or 5 years I didn’t do any acting. And during that time I wasn’t particularly happy and couldn’t work out why.

And then I did an acting course out of the blue and I realized that I had forgotten something I was passionate about. When I realized that, it felt weird. It is weird to forget something that’s important to you. That acting course made me feel that I was back doing what I was supposed to do. Although in the time that I wasn’t doing any acting I had started writing again – which is another passion of mine. So, I had spent the time investing in something else and that was good.

But when I went back to acting I found I was REALLY passionate about it and I wanted to keep doing it.

Q: How did you go about ‘keeping doing it’?

Peter: Just by being involved. The trouble in Australia is there isn’t much work so you have to push yourself if you really want to do it. You have to keep doing courses and training. I was living in Adelaide and then Sydney briefly and I would get involved with groups and do lots of theatre. Then when I moved to Melbourne and did The Rehearsal Room classes it changed my focus. Because when I discovered working on videotape I found it really thrilling. Actors generally prefer stage because it is the actor’s medium but I found working in front of the camera invigorating. I really liked the challenge of piecing together a performance out of sequence rather than the linear journey of the theatre. I really enjoyed the challenge of putting the puzzle together in a different order. I know theatre can be an extraordinarily intimate experience but TV can be an intimate experience as well. The camera can bring you a lot closer to your audience than the theatre can. So, I believe they both have their merits.

I have done bits of theatre since I have been in Melbourne but it has mostly been acting for the screen.

PETER rehearsing with IAN ROONEY - Harold Hobson

Q: And then writing came back to visit you?

Peter: Yeah, but that began as way of facilitating more acting work for myself. I did the Foundation Director’s course at the VCA and I wrote short films that I wanted to perform in because I wanted to create my own work.

Q: That’s why you wrote them? So you could perform in them?

Peter: Partly. It was a mixture between wanting to perform and wanting to direct because I enjoyed the directing and writing processes as well. But the biggest challenge would have been the acting, I guess.

I then went through the long drawn out business of creating a TV series based on a job I used to do. I shot a promotional reel for that show. That was something else I was passionate about and I wanted to be involved in as an actor – and perhaps still will if it ever happens.

Q: Will it ever happen?

Peter: Who knows!! It had development funding from Film Victoria. Then a production company optioned it and it is currently doing the rounds of the TV Networks. It all takes such a long time to get anything up. It takes years.

But having done that and found that writing was also really creatively fulfilling I realized I could do both. So, I attended a writing course on writing for soaps at AFTRS. It was great. The supervising script editor from Neighbours ran it.

I did it because I wanted to understand the regimented structure of soap. I was interested in ‘hooks’ and ‘cliff-hangers’ because I thought they would help the series I was creating. I did this course on a whim and ended up really enjoying it. Plus, I got on really well with the guy who ran it who then invited me on to Neighbours. That’s where I have been writing ever since. I hadn’t done much professional writing before so that has been a great learning curve. It has been exciting and fun to do.

But, acting is still my passion and I’m really excited about doing Hobson’s Choice.

Q: What excites you about Hobson’s Choice?

Peter: Lots of things excite me about it. I love the tone of it. I like the humour it has. At this stage we have only had a couple of tentative rehearsals but I find it an engaging and humorous play and I love the character.

Q: What do you like about the character?

Peter: I like his naivety and I like the journey – he has quite a journey learning to have faith in himself. Seeing some else’s belief in him enables him believe in his own abilities. It’s an optimistic story.

Q: Does the character’s journey appeal to the writer in you or the actor?

Peter: That’s an interesting question - probably both actually. But, if I have to choose I think I enjoy it most as an actor. He has such a huge journey to make because he ends up quite a different person by the end of the play to the way he was at the start. It will be very interesting to create that metamorphosis. It’s very challenging, I think. How he’s affected by relationships is interesting, too. As the workshop bound cobbler he is quite an isolated person and by the end he has a number of new relationships and they change him significantly. So, it’s a journey of some magnitude and plotting and creating those changes is, for the actor, a big and exciting challenge.

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