Award-winning actor Genna Galloway is part of the fabulous cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which is at the Theatre on the Bay. The play is based on the best-selling book by Mark Haddon. She spoke to Weekend Special about the production, and what else she has been up to:
WeekendSpecial: Had you read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time before joining this cast – or heard of the book? If yes – did you like it? If no – did the script sound intriguing? What attracted you to the project, basically?
Genna Galloway: Believe it or not, I was one of the few people who had never read the book or seen the play. As soon as I told my mother that I had been offered to be a part of the project, she was beside herself with excitement, which I took as an excellent sign. Once I understood the reputation of the piece I began researching it and fell in love with the story. It is truly magical and it really takes you on such a beautiful journey. I have also always been a big fan of (director) Paul Warwick Griffin and could not wait to work with him. And of course, our cast is filled with some of the best in the business, so I will always grab any opportunity to work with and learn from these exceptionally talented people.
WeekendSpecial: Please tell us about your role/s in the play?
Genna Galloway: I play a variety of characters within the piece, all of which I absolutely love. The story centres around our protagonist, Christopher, played by the wonderful Kai Brummer, and it is our job as actors to facilitate his journey and tell his story. We create the world in which Christopher exists through physical shifts as well as various characterisations, and essentially aim to bring his story to life. It is such a wonderful ensemble piece and I am thrilled that I am able to explore a range of roles in one play.
WeekendSpecial: It’s a long way from Hedwig (pictured right) one would imagine (Genna won the 2017 Fleur du Cap award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the offbeat music show Hedwig and the Angry Inch). But you seem to be somebody who enjoys pushing themselves. How has the experience been so far?
Genna Galloway: It is definitely a massive leap from my trailer in Hedwig and this has been such a great experience. I have learnt so much working with our brilliant director but also from watching my fellow actors and actresses work. There is something incredibly inspiring being surrounded by such talent and I am growing as an artist by observing their process, whilst also honing my own. I also love working with performers that I have seen on stage before, but have never previously had the privilege of acting alongside, so this has been a truly wonderful process for me.
WeekendSpecial: How do you get into the zone – could you give our readers an idea of what a typical rehearsal day would be like?
Genna Galloway: This play requires the performer to remain incredibly focused and engaged throughout the performance and in order to communicate clear emotional shifts, we need to make sure that we are mentally and physically prepared. We’ve begun each rehearsal with a physical warm-up and a focus session, which not only gets our minds and bodies ready, but also solidifies us as an ensemble and as a team. We all very much rely on each other to tell this story and therefore we need to feel supported and connected as a company.
WeekendSpecial: You come from a very theatrical family – this must have been, and still be, a source of great support?
Genna Galloway: I really am so lucky to have had the most supportive parents in the world. Our industry is not for the fainthearted and I honestly do not know how people do it without a strong support system. My family has constantly guided me throughout my career and given me the courage to explore opportunities that I may otherwise have shied away from. I am very grateful that I had parents that understood this mad business and loved it as much as I do.
WeekendSpecial: The Waterfront Theatre School was started by your parents, Delia and Keith Galloway – and you are now a director. How has it felt to inherit a legacy?
Genna Galloway: Wow, it has felt both wonderful and terrifying at times. It is an immense privilege to be a teacher and a mentor to our students and I recognise the responsibility that comes with those tasks. I grew up watching my parents teach and I adored being taught by them. I want to instil the kind of passion, discipline and determination into our students that my parents instilled in me and continue their legacy. The energy in that building is magical and I am so proud of the amazing work and talent that is being produced each year. I am also so lucky that I am able to perform as well as work alongside my mother and Paul Griffiths, who is also a partner at WTS. So I’m really grateful to have the best of both worlds at the moment.
WeekendSpecial: Musical theatre in South Africa seems to be becoming more and more popular, both in terms of audiences but also in terms of young people who want to enter this genre as a career. Would you say this is true?
Genna Galloway: Absolutely. Theatre will be with us forever. It is a place for people to escape into another world and explore the human experience through the magic song and dance, comedy or drama. The live element of the theatre makes it unpredictable and spontaneous, which is exciting for an audience and sometimes makes a welcome change from our technologically saturated world. We always say, versatility is the key to a successful career and that is what we work to achieve at the WTS. There is a mass of work out there if you are multifaceted and have a variety of skills in your toolbox. The wonderful thing about our industry is that people are bravely creating their own work in and amongst the larger musicals that come to our shores, which is cultivating our theatrical landscape.
WS: What was the last live show you saw – and how did you find it?
GG: I was lucky enough to watch Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway in July and it took my breath away. I had been dying to see it ever since I heard the music and it was one of the most powerful shows I have ever seen! I think what I loved so much was how honest and authentic the performances were and the soundtrack is truly exceptional. My sister Jo and I cried for the full two hours. It was slightly embarrassing!
WS: Please tell us one thing about yourself that other people may not know – or suspect?
GG: I’m a total geek and came first in Matric. I never get to tell people that so this is my attempt at shameless self-promotion.
WS: When you’re not working – what do you like to do to relax?
GG: My days are quite manic at times and jumping between performing and teaching can be a bit crazy, so I love spending some time binge-watching series and relaxing at home with a glass of wine. However, my greatest de-stressor is working out. I love exercising and my favourite thing to do is go to a Sweat 1000 class. I try to get to at least three to four classes in a week and I always leave feeling like a new person.
Where and when: Theatre on the Bay from 22 September to 3 November 2018 / Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino theatre from 2 November to 7 December 2018