Friday, September 19, 2014

Spotlight On...Matthew Foster

Name: Matthew Foster

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

Favorite Credits: Clown in The 39 Steps, Max in Lend Me a Tenor, Freddy in Noises Off, and everything with Australian Made Entertainment - Cosi, Speaking in Tongues, Once We Lived Here and The Club!

Why theater?: At the age of 11, my stage debut was as the Cowardly Lion in a one-night-only community theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. I don't remember exactly what I did, but I remember getting a huge laugh for some sort of schtick, and I was hooked. As an aside, Robert De Niro's first stage production as a child was as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, so surely that's some sort of good omen.

Tell us about The Club: The Club is a cultural classic by Australia's most successful playwright, David Williamson. A winner of the Australian Writer's Guild award for Best Play, this biting satire tells the story of a once-great Australian Rules football club that is currently struggling for form. Becoming competitive again is proving difficult due to the back-stabbing and double-dealing among those who run the club. The coach wants to quit, the players threaten to strike, and the club president is embroiled in scandal. But the club's devious administrator, in cahoots with a former player and coach, would dispense with them all if it meant the team had a shot at the championship.

What inspired Australian Made Entertainment to produce The Club?: While it contains universal themes that all theatre-goers will respond to, The Club is one of Australia's most well-known and loved works, quintessentially Australian. Where else can you hear phrases like "have a bit of a perve" and "he wasn't worth a cracker"? Plus, this really is an actor's piece. Each character is unique with his own very self-serving objectives, so there's a lot of electricity when they clash. And they clash constantly. Add to that the fact that the play unfolds in real time all in the one location and it's a very engaging piece of theatre.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: If there's a good story that keeps me involved and caring for the characters, then I'm on board. I tend to like subtler forms of theatre, but that said, I love a good spectacular musical or an over-the-top farce. I'm inspired by inventive works that bend the rules a little bit without sacrificing a satisfying narrative. The works of Aussie playwright Andrew Bovell (whose play Speaking in Tongues we produced a couple of years ago) are particularly inspiring to me.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Well, of course, I have to choose an Aussie here. In fact, let me choose two. Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush are both amazing talents that I would be absolutely honoured to share the stage with.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Shamefully, I haven't managed to get out to see much lately since my son Charlie was born seven months ago. (Parenting takes up a lot of time. Who knew?) But I have recommended Matilda to a few people (written by an Aussie, Tim Minchin!)
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I think Paul Giamatti probably has the right amount of neurosis to play me. And the film would probably be called "The Man Who Worried Too Much".

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Right now, sleeping in is about as pleasurable as I can imagine. My wife Kat and I have been producing this show and organizing a move to LA, all with a seven-month-old baby at home. Sleep, when it happens, is divine.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I tend to listen to podcasts more than music at the moment. I love Doug Loves Movies and The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. But if I have to name a song, it's probably something by Billy Joel.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Quite unhappy.

What’s up next?: Kat and I are moving to Los Angeles almost immediately after The Club closes, so once we're settled in over there, we'll figure out what our inaugural West Coast production will be. We've been eyeing a few Joanna Murray-Smith plays, so it could be one of hers.