A little bit of everything
Erin Banks is Wellington theatre’s jack of all trades. There’s not much she hasn’t done from being an award winning actor to costume design.
Now she’s projection designer for the Playground Collective’s latest production of Eli Kent’s The Intricate Art of Actually Caring, opening at Downstage on May 25. Banks has created all the slides in the show projected by traditional overhead projectors, or OHPs. The slides not only display the chapter titles, but are also set backgrounds, raise metaphorical images and are used by the actors as they tell their story.
Semi-autobiographical The Intricate Art of Actually Caring was first performed in 2009 in the bedroom of playwright Eli Kent. Audiences may only have been 15 at a time, but word soon spread and the play went on to win multiple awards and for Kent the 2010 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award and a 2011 Arts Foundation New Generation Award. It’s played at Downstage before, and had seasons around the country. It tells the story of two friends who in Good Bye Pork Pie fashion take a New Zealand road trip in a search for life meaning.
Banks has been there since the beginning. She was art director in the original production and designed the set for later reincarnations.
“I’ve seen the play as it’s progressed,” Banks says. “It still retains the incredibly personal story that spoke to past audiences, but it’s been reinvented with a cleaner script and the actors now own it to a greater degree.”
She says another highlight of this production is a new sound track of original music by Gareth Hobbs.
Banks is a graduate of Victoria University’s school of theatre and film. She’s a multiple Chapman Tripp Award winner and has worked with the Playground Collective in roles ranging from makeup artist to script advisor. She says today’s actors need to be more adaptable and trained to be theatre makers rather than just actors.
“It’s a new generation and work is more split than before and you have to be more flexible. You get a totally different joy from working behind the scenes as well as learning all aspects of theatre.”
And Banks must be optimistic that the work will be there. She’s just resigned from her day job as a business assistant with the Film Commission to work fulltime in theatre. She’s rehearsing for All My Sons at Circa Theatre and then she’s in Capital E’s production of Magnolia Street on at Downstage in July.
“There’s still a few things I haven’t done. I’ve never directed outside university and I’d like to have a stab at lighting design.”
The Intricate Art of Actually Caring, Downstage May 25 to June 2nd.