The Late Bloomer Actor

The Culture Of Acting with Tony Knight

September 15, 2022 David John Clark Season 1 Episode 9
The Late Bloomer Actor
The Culture Of Acting with Tony Knight
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 9 with Tony Knight. Educated at Sydney Grammar School, trained at the Drama Centre in London and earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Sydney University. 

He was a long time teacher at Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) where he was also the Head Of Acting for from 1992 to 2011 where he trained some of Australia's favorite actors including Cate Blanchett, Sam Worthington, Jacqueline MacKenzie and Miranda Otto to name a few. 

He has traveled the world both personally and as a teacher, taking his wisdom to many lectures and conferences.  

Now based in Adelaide, which is fortunate for us, he continues to educate actors both through regular training opportunities with many local agencies including Angela Heesom casting, Type Talent Drama, The Actor’s Studio and many others. 

He continues his love of stage as a co-producer and Director of Starc Productions and on top of all of this he is currently completing a PHD at Flinder’s University on Richard Burbage: Shakespeare’s Actor and the art of “Personation”. 

In this wonderfully insightful episode, we talk about stage acting and screen acting, do you need both how you can switch between both or come back later, regardless of your where you are in your career.

We discuss the benefits of theatre acting, how it can teach you as an actor to know 'styles' and how that can improve you as an actor in all forms. This leads us to discussing how to 'play the moment' in scenes, to make it real and why it's necessary to give yourself permission to 'play'. 

And we have a strong discussion on how honoring the history of your country and land, especially your local area effects your art and the stories you tell as an actor.

If you're keen on training with Tony, he is a lecturer at several Adelaide Schools and also does some online workshops. Just check him out on Google or LinkedIn for updates.


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David John Clark 00:00:02

 Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the podcast episode number nine. Today I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful Mr. Tony Knight. Welcome, Tony.

 

Tony Knight 00:01:25

Welcome. Hi, how are you? Good morning.

 

David John Clark 00:01:27

Good. Thank you very much for coming on board the Late Bloomer actor podcast. It's awesome. Pleasure to have you here.

 

Tony Knight 00:01:33

Thank you.

 

David John Clark 00:01:35

Now, I have been really looking forward to having a chat with you. And I reckon I've written down so many questions because since I've met you and since I've done training with you, your knowledge and everything about acting, and not just acting, but just history and life, et cetera, et cetera, has opened me up to so many questions about culture and understanding people and understanding history, which is wonderful. So what I'd like to do, I'd like to go back to where you grew up, where you started from, before you now live here in Adelaide. But where did your journey start? I believe you're a Sydney boy, is that correct?

 

Tony Knight 00:02:13

I'm absolutely Sydney boy. Northern beaches. Born and bred, like even an old surfing culture, but working class parents who set themselves broke to send my sisters and myself to a private school. So I went to City Grammar. So the age of nine, I was travelling into the city, which is I think that does actually change the type of person I'm noticing it teaching the students at the Botanic a little bit compared to teaching outside of regional South Australia. You know, city kids, if you go into the school at an early age, which I was certainly doing, you become street smart pretty quickly. I mean, you've got to basically, 

 

David John Clark 00:02:13

Especially in Sydney!

 

Tony Knight 00:02:13

 Yeah. You've got to negotiate a city and all those sort of things go on. I was very fortunate to go to Sydney Grammar and then I auditioned for NIDA to the acting course, and I was only 18. I got in. It was the biggest one of a big mistake. I was way too young. And at the end of that year I was dismissed. I mean, the irony is, of course had been ten years later I've become the head of acting at night, which is quite ironic. And then I actually took off. I was always, at that time, in my late teens, involved in theatre and wanted to go to Hollywood, wanted to go to New York one to go to London. They were all classic things for a lot of young people, or any artists, really. You hear about everything second hand. And even though it was quite exciting what was going on in Australia at that time, with the 1970's renaissance of Australian film and theatre, my cousin was Alex Buzo, so I was very much involved with all that, and that was early Nimrod days. But I wanted to get overseas, I just wanted to get to London and to New York and to actually that was where my dream was. But I had to. This is the other part of my strange journey. My parents weren't wealthy, so I had to earn the money myself to go and afford all this. So I went to sea, I went dredging well, for about six months. Yeah, that was in New Zealand, but also outside off Sydney. It's so weird looking back at all that, but yeah, I call it my Eugeno Neil period. This is the late seventies. I was nearly on 1000 a week.

 

David John Clark 00:04:38

Wow. Back then?

 

Tony Knight 00:04:38

Yeah, it was shift work, it was heavy labour, but it was certainly an experience, basically, but I don't know. Yes, I look back at that, go, did I really do that? But I did, and so that raised the money to go. And so I went and I basically didn't come back for the next five years, just the States. And then I went to London. I ended up in London. Then I went to a school called the Drama Centre.

 

David John Clark 00:05:12

Yes, so I've heard that one.

 

Tony Knight 00:05:13

Yeah. I did the directors course. There very particular type of training of which Pierce Brosnan, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, these are graduates of Drama Centre. So Colin Firth, they're all graduates of Drama Centre, and so it's a very, very particular type of training. Which I've introduced you to. Some of it. And then I came back. Basically I had the offer. I could have stayed in London, but after five years or so I was homesick and I wanted to come back. I'd been back every now and then to visit family and friends, but I was mainly living in London. But I got tired of the weather. I thought, if I have to go through one more English weather winter, I think I'd go crazy. So I came back and I started working in Sydney at a place called the Actor Studio or the Actor Centre, and that was then the Nimrod acting classes.

 

David John Clark 00:06:06

Okay?

 

Tony Knight 00:06:07

I did that for a few years. Then I worked as Rodney Fisher's personal assistant on anything that Rodney was doing, which included then the miniseries of Melba. So I worked on that and then a whole lot of other plays. And then I was at a party this is seriously how it happened. I was at a party down at North Bondi and Kevin Jackson, who was head of acting at NIDA then, came up to me and said, would I be interested in a job? And I looked at Kevin, I went, yeah, sure.

 

David John Clark 00:06:36

Did you laugh thinking back, that as an 18 year old, you were a student?

 

Tony Knight 00:06:40

Yeah, I did. I said, Kevin, are you sure? And he mentioned that John Clark and Elizabeth Butcher would really like me to come out. And the thing about John and Elizabeth, even though I'd been thrown out of NIDA, I guess what was very nice about them and other teachers at NIDA, like George Whaley, all during that time when I was in England, they kept in touch with me and I did see some of them occasionally when they came over, so they always... . Yeah, I kind of take that as a sort of like an acknowledgment of talent going, okay, NIDA is not for you, but you've found somewhere else and we're going to support you. And they did. Especially John and John Clark. That was actually really nice to have that sort of support. So when I went in for my interview, it was like meeting old friends and having a great conversation. And I was offered the job then and there to work as an acting teacher.

 

David John Clark 00:07:36

Isn't it funny? I was talking on my last episode with Andy McPhee, which was titled Sliding Doors and we were talking about how doors open or closed in someone's journey. And that's funny. In your case, you've had a door closed only to offer an opening later on, isn't it?

 

Tony Knight 00:07:55

Well, very much so. And I often think, what would have happened if I didn't come back to Australia? What sort of career would I have had over in England, for example, or in America? But you're absolutely right, sliding Doors and always being ready for the opportunity. I think it's very important to always remain positive. It's very difficult and you never know where an opportunity may present itself. I tend to say yes more than no, actually, and encourage others to go, just take the risk.

 

David John Clark 00:08:29

I do want to focus a lot on your NIDA because that just thoroughly interests me about your journey there. So you were there for 21 years, is that correct?

 

Tony Knight 00:08:39

24 years.

 

David John Clark 00:08:39

24. And the head of NIDA for ten or twelve?

 

Tony Knight 00:08:43

No, I became head of NIDA in 1992 and I left in 2011.

 

David John Clark 00:08:50

Okay. And I just wanted to touch on. Can you tell me about your journey there, obviously, and we're going back to you said just before about, oh, my God, how different would my life be if I hadn't come back to Australia? But how many actors have you been involved with the journeys that you've touched on their journey through NIDA? So that would change that. How did you influence a lot of actors at NIDA and what did you see coming out of that?

 

Tony Knight 00:09:19

Well, I always think when I talk about NIDA, I always remind people, it's not just me, NIDA then, not now, but NIDA then. We were gathered together as an ensemble of teachers, and that included acting teachers, as well as design teachers, technical production teachers, and so you had a teaching programme, which you did it during the day and we all work together, and then you had a play production programme in the afternoon, of which all the departments then came together. So in many ways, it was actually operating a little bit like an acting ensemble or a theatre ensemble. The training, what I brought in was, I guess you'd call the method, but also all the issues of European training and history of theatre. But that was sort of like complementary to voice and movement and music and a whole lot of other things. What was one of the biggest changes? That for me, especially when I took over, when I started at NIDA, the amount of film and television training that the actors had was like two weeks with the ABC. That was it. That was at the end of their third year. There wasn't anything else. And then talking to graduates, and this included Hugo Weaving. I know I'm name dropping, but a whole lot of people. What do you need? What do we need to do here to improve the training? And it was always more film and television. More film and television. And that's kind of understandable, as it still is now, because the majority of work in Australia for Australian actors is in film and television, not in professional theatre. I mean, it's changing a little bit. Professional theatre has certainly expanded, especially the musicals, but it still isn't the case. There's more work in film and television than there is in professional theatre. Here we have, which is much as I really do admire and I do admire Mitchell Patel enormously, is the very fact that there's only one professional adult company in Adelaide is problematic, because it only means that the company good, though, a duck is, it can only employ a certain amount of actors. And that's why there's a brain drain. And I just think that's a problem. But anyway, so back to NIDA. That's what I resolved to do. Talking with John Clark was one of these one issue of going, we've got to increase the amount of film and television training in it. Now, look, initially there was a lot of resistance to this. There was the thing about the attitude of, well, theatre training is just as if you train to the theatre, you can do film and television. I'm going, that's not true, and then listening to people like Meryl Streep talk about how she's knowledgeable about lenses and camera angles and the whole technique of understanding filmmaking. And so I just started adding more, basically just getting with John saying, okay, we've got the two weeks. What do we add another two weeks somewhere? What do I add more here? And so gradually, over so many years, I just kept adding more and more things to the film and television training, so that by the time I left, it was about a third of the training. And I think that's probably about right. You wouldn't want it to be a bit more than that. But within that, it wasn't just involving acting for the camera. Like, for the first exercise that the first year students actually did, was make your own film so they would learn. So they would go out there and storyboard and cast, write the script themselves. And these are like short three minute films. And then they would learn how to work on Final Cut Pro. Because my attitude then was, and this is advice from directors such as Nick Parsons to go, let them first learn about the camera from the other side of the camera. Let them learn about the whole process rather than acting for the camera. So it was a holistic approach. And I kind of went, absolutely, let's do that. And then in the second year, this was when George Whaley was up at the Australian Film and Television Radio School, they did exercises with the film students up there, so establishing that relationship. But there was a lot more other things. There was soundtrack exercises, posthinking exercises, also just getting in front. And really, as Hugo Weaving said, I've never got what Hugo said about just get them in front of the camera. Because partly Hugo did a lot of these series, like The Dirtwood Dynasty and a whole lot of series, simply because one reason why he did a lot back to back was because of the lack of experience that he had in front of a camera. And just like you work on stage, with all the drama training that goes on, you develop a confidence to work in the theatre by just simply repetition. But the same is true for working in front of a camera. You've got to keep doing it in order to find just to be able to relax in front of it, especially in a professional environment when there's so many other things going on. You've got to stay pretty calm when it goes action, and just do it.

 

David John Clark 00:14:23

Yeah, certainly. I listened to a podcast the other day and I've forgotten the actor. But he applied and he did the three years at WAAPA but his sister tried to do the same approach. But she actually got a role on Home and Away. And so went full time with Home And Away. And she did several years on Home And Away. And that was her drama training. Because she was high focused and high intensity camera work all the time. And so she's walked away with the same skill set that he got at three years at drama school, but in a paid environment, because she's in front of the camera all the time. So that makes such a big difference.

 

Tony Knight 00:14:58

There is another problem. I agree with you. She'll be far more skilled regarding film and television, three camera setups and a whole lot of different things. But can she work in the theatre? That's going to be the truth, because what we often see, and I talked to a lot of people who came from the world of soap opera, came to NIDA because that period of their life was over. And unfortunately, how it works, sometimes that can be the end of a career completely. So you need to come back to the theatre, which is the lifeblood, and that does involve different techniques. And a lot of film actors get very nervous about coming back to the theatre because they've basically lost certain technical skills, like voice in particular. They don't have the strength of the voice and immediately, oh, I'm going to be mic'd anyway, which I always think is a breathful argument. And the whole way you work on a stage, compared to working how you physically work on a stage compared to working on a studio, there are differences, massive differences, usually associated with the issue of scale of how big you can go and issues of nervousness with truth. Because sometimes you're working in the theatre, you can go, oh, I feel like I'm over acting. You go, no, you're not, I can hardly hear you.

 

David John Clark 00:16:13

That sort of works like with the pilot training. If you want to go and get your pilot's licence, if you want to be a pilot of a plane and you want to be a pilot of a helicopter, they say, go and get the helicopter licence first and then go back to learning how to fly a plane. In the world of acting, would you say, get your theatre background first and then do film and TV?

 

Tony Knight 00:16:34

I would actually never lose either skill. So basically, you go to classes as much as you possibly can to experience both voice classes in particular. I'm amazed at that, because the quality you've got a great voice, David, but, you know, you're lucky.

 

David John Clark 00:16:52

Thank you.

 

Tony Knight 00:16:52

Because most people don't, and it has to be trained, because otherwise it gets really boring to listen to.

 

David John Clark 00:17:01

It's interesting because I always thought I've got a terrible voice. But I've been told that I'm quite articulate and well spoken. And whether that's something to do with my 30 years in the job that I do. And I've had negatives of that because I've done roles where I'm speaking too clearly. Where I need to change it so I can see how voice is a big thing. It's interesting, isn't it?

 

Tony Knight 00:17:22

Yes. And also, knowing yourself, you keep yourself physically fit, don't you? So you've got that discipline, which is what an actor needs to actually take. I was just talking to young people the other day about this and others going, this is all you've got. You don't really have anything else except your body, so you've actually got to look after it physically and vocally and health wise and all sort of things. It's very important and I kind of just talking even on a mental health issue and expanding imagination, it's all actually very physically orientated and as you know, sometimes to deal with stress, a good workout at a gym is actually the best thing to do if you're feeling...

 

David John Clark 00:18:06

I just want to touch on the point that you said there about having that stage training and ideally having it first. Now, if we look at my situation, or the late bloomer situation, where actors might not have done drama at school and they've got into acting and so it's pretty much film and TV, is it possible to go back and do the stage later on? If you look at my circumstances, I'm looking to forward to retirement in ten years time, so then I'd be in a position where I can actually do stage at the moment. I can't the rehearsals just don't work in my lifestyle. Is it never too late to jump up on stage and learn the craft?

 

Tony Knight 00:18:46

No, it's never too late. Never ever. It's always possible to get in there and look, the funny thing, as we get older, you kind of don't want the leading roles. You kind of go, no, I'm trying to play the butler because I don't have that many lines to learn and I'm quite happy with all that. I've heard that with a lot of senior actors going, yeah, just go for these particular roles, that the young people have the leading things and you just actually work as a support. Yeah, it's great. I'm going out to see next week, I'm going out to see to the Tea Tree Players because they're doing one of my favourite plays, they're doing Arsenic and Old Lace, and it's a great play that's going to be full of senior actors, which you don't really get to see very often. Even on a professional stage, the seniors tend to disappear, but then Arsenic and Old Lace demands it. So I'm looking actually forward to seeing that. And I know it'll be an amateur group, but they'll be all up there actually working on this wonderful play. And the thing is, about all that is I've noticed, because I've been helping with a couple of other groups as well, it's the issue of style and understanding that because we're dominated by naturalism, absolutely dominated by it. I find that a lot of people are fine at doing naturalism. It's really quite easy, modern naturalism. But when you give them anything heightened, like a heightened comedy or like a power or even like this crazy play called Arsenic and Old Lace, like people start to fumble and go and you go, okay, what was something really missing here? And the theatre will do this. This is what coming back to your question is theatre, more than film and television, will give you an appreciation of style. And what do I mean by that? Well, by style, I mean it's sort of like there's imaginary worlds. I mean, Shakespeare has got a style, for example, in massively different plays, but it has a particular challenging demand that you can't bring it down to naturalism. You've got to reach up for it because it's got a far more expanded universe, expanded way of thinking. And it's the same thing with any doing, like even doing a David Williamson. David Williamson's plays are actually very tricky because they're very long sentences. It's not like normal speaking. It feels like it, but you've got to drive through these things. It's quite complicated. So that's what I've noticed within the theatre, especially the community theatre in Adelaide, that's where you get a chance to experience different styles. And I think that's really important, very important, because you want to be able to have a versatility and skills to go, okay, I'm going to do a fast this week, then I'm going to do a drama, then I'm going to do this, then I'm going to do that. Because otherwise you just end up playing one thing.

 

David John Clark 00:21:33

So that draws on the classical background of acting teachers and which is what you've done all your life. So you still think that you need that regardless. Or can actors not have that and still wing it?

 

Tony Knight 00:21:50

Of course, you don't have to have it. But we're talking about the difference between are you doing acting as a commercial product or are you doing it as an art form? And I always go, look, in order to avoid disappointment and bitterness, stay with the art. Whenever a decision comes along, go with the art form. Because as we know, I've been through this, the jobs you've done just for the money, and always the ones that are hideous, basically, and they never give you the satisfaction. Whereas the ones that you do for art that you might not really receive much money, they can sometimes be the most rewarding experiences of all.

 

David John Clark 00:22:30

Because film and TV now, a lot of it's changed to more character based things. The casting agents are grabbing people off the street because they're going for that look. The Breaking Bad was a big change in streaming shows. For example, a step away from the classic blond hair, blue eyes, actor. Do you seet hose as positive for TV and film because you wouldn't see it on stage, of course.

 

Tony Knight 00:22:56

No. God. Well, you can. It's usually disastrous, but a TV person will go, oh, I want to be and do a stage show. And they just don't have the technical skills to do it. And it's really noticeable. Now, it's interesting you bring this up because Quentin Tarantino, for example, is just recently I read this somewhere, the French New Wave in the 1960s, which is Truffaut and a whole lot of other people, they were the ones that brought in this idea of grabbing people from the street and turning them into actors who had no formal training and look for the things that they did. It worked. It was actually quite like 400 Blows. And that's all really impressive. But as Tarantino points out, it doesn't actually mean that they're actors. It means that they're actually being manipulated by a film director to provide one performance. That's actually stunning. But then what are they like in the next show? And it's always, don't judge an actor by just one show. An actor is somebody who's let's talk about if you're a real actor, let's talk about how many shows you've done. Five films. It's always about the next job, basically. You've always got to keep thinking, what's the next job? What's the next job that I'm going to go for? And that's partly the definition of an actor. And that could be anything. But Tarantino is very down on that whole thing of pulling actors off the street.

 

David John Clark 00:24:24

Okay. It's almost a reality TV. I mean, mainstream TV is so full of reality TV now and the stars for a day, but then we never see them again. So that's pretty much what you're leaning towards, isn't it?

 

Tony Knight 00:24:37

Yeah. It's not the first job, it's the second. Can you get the second job? And the film in particular is littered with people who suddenly have gone right up there and been considered major stars and then nothing at all.

 

David John Clark 00:24:53

So you were talking about building that foundation, so to speak, which is great. Most of the drama schools still teach that foundation of acting. Don't they?

 

Tony Knight 00:25:03

Oh, yeah, you're reminded continue with not all of them because there are schools that specialise now in just film and television, which is understandable, but the best drama schools, always stage related, have that as, because that's your lifeblood. And when film and television dries up, what do you do? You go back to the theatre because it's always going to be there.

 

David John Clark 00:25:27

So what's your thoughts on the older actors? I think we started to touch on that before about where can they get that foundation if they're not doing a solid three years at drama school? I mean, I've done a couple of little courses with you, and it slowly builds. It can be done, can't it?

 

Tony Knight 00:25:42

Oh, yeah. And I encourage people to do as many different courses as possible because I don't want to ever be regarded as I hate when I'm called a mentor. I really hate that. And I just go and find out. Go and do NIck's classes, go and do those pieces of classes. Find out as many different techniques as you possibly can. Because I don't believe there's just one technique. I believe that there's actually multiple techniques. And you grow and you learn and you develop your own technique. This was actually the training at NIDA, which I put together is it wasn't just one technique. I tried to expose the students to as many different techniques over the three years, encourage them, you form your own technique. And so I do believe that that's what any professional actor, or any actor really basically should be going and seeking out new techniques. One just recently, because she's a mate, I mean, Corinna De Niro, who is a brilliant Commedia dell'Arte teacher in Adelaide. And Corinna occasionally does workshops. So I'd be going, go and do them, do a Commedia workshop, because it would be fantastic. It's so brilliant an art form and it's specialised. So it's those things, whether it be classical, whether it be modern. I just noticed there's coming up a big drama I won't be able to go to it, but there's a big drama conference coming up for teachers and it's interesting to speak as they've got theatre games, talking about different approaches to classrooms. I'd love to be able to go to see some of it, because there'll be always new things evolving. There's this new thing now they're talking about, Cine-theatre because of the success of The Picture of Dorian Grey. And at the moment, at the Sydney Theatre Company, they're doing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and this is this thing I don't know if you saw A Picture of Dorian Grey, it was pretty good. I mean, one single actress and multiple screens. So it was a theatrical experience of theatre. Very successful combination of theatre and film with camera people live on stage. And that's not necessarily new. It actually been existing for 100 years, this combination of theatre and film. But what's going on with the Sydney Theatre Company at the moment? They're honing in on a very particular skill. And how do you work with a camera person on stage with film and with the combining? And so you've got to always be aware that there are new techniques coming forward. I'll tell you one thing I've noticed also, just regarding the method I teach, is you used to talk about motivation a lot. You don't necessarily talk about motivation as much anymore.

 

David John Clark 00:28:19

Motivation of the actor or motivation of the character?

 

Tony Knight 00:28:22

Motivation of the character. You talk about backstory, which I would hate for it anyway, but it's more about play the moment and sometimes and not worry about actually why you're doing them, why you're doing it, but just simply play that second. Now, look, I think there's good things and bad things. About it, but I certainly understand what it means because I know that in rehearsal, I know I'll be doing this today. I'll be talking about play the moment, just play that moment of connecting between two characters or as many characters as you like, rather than not worrying about other things. And so it's searching for those things and it's just developed a little bit over there. So the players, for example, what you do with motivation, a lot like Chekov, or  Tennessee Williams, you talk about motivation and all those heavy pieces of naturalism. There's a different type of playwrighting going on at the moment. Plus we're actually in a new world regarding characters, which I personally find it sometimes hard to get my head around. Non binary, trans. It's a whole different way of actually using pronouns, which is to be expected sometimes. I always turn around and say, listen, I'm a baby boomer. I'm going to get it wrong. So you just got to help me through this because I know there are a lot of rehearsals now in professional as well as in drama schools. You begin with actually, well, how do you want to be addressed? Whether it be called him or her, they want whatever. And there's a controversial play on it in London at the moment called I Joan, which is about Joan of Arc. It's attracting a lot of controversy because it's presenting Joan as non binary St. Joan. And people, this is the patron saint of France, who was did she have visions from God? I mean, who knows? But I kind of go and I'm reading through it. I was just reading through it this morning and I'm going because Peter Brooks said that actually a good sign of theatre is when you have people who love it and when you have people who hate it. Same with a good film. If you've got that difference, then you're going to have discourse about people who love something and hate it. So it's the ideal reaction that you want is that type of polarisation people who love it and people who hate it, because then they're going to talk rather than go, okay, well, where are we going to go to supper and forget about the experience immediately?

 

David John Clark 00:30:44

So you're talking just before about character, about being in the moment. And one of the teachers that I love and follow is Jeff Seymour, aka the Real Life Actor, and he talks about that, about being in the moment. He uses an example, I think it was a story or a play or a movie about some tribes in Africa where you got two tribes or two different clans, and one of the two leaders had grown up together, but we're in separate clans now, and the other clan had taken the other gentleman's son and was going to kill him. And in this scene, he was going to try and argue and try and get his son back save his son's life. And the actor that was doing the scene went through all these motions the night before, how he was going to do it, and drawing on colours of what animal is he playing? And everything like that. And Jeff sort of talks around and says, well, no, be the father. You're the father and you're standing there and this man is about to kill your son, how are you going to react? You're not going to think about it, you're going to react. Is that what you're leaning towards?

 

Tony Knight 00:31:45

Absolutely. I mean, the funny thing is, when we work in the theatre and in film, everything's meant to be. We rehearse it and we practise it, we learn our lines, we go through a very self conscious process, but in the end, we've got to make it appear spontaneous, we've got to make it peer organic that it's actually happening for the first time. And sometimes that's actually more important. So I do. Turn around. I completely agree. That's why I worry about actors doing backstories sometimes, because I kinda go ... where did you get that choice? And actually it's irrelevant. Play the moment.

 

David John Clark 00:32:22

And that's the hardest thing as an actor, is learning how to do that. And that's where your training comes, and having that toolbox that you're talking about. We can go through Meisner and we can do Stellar Adler or Chubbuck. You've even mentioned some something today that I've never heard of. So it's not about picking or choosing, it's about having a knowledge of one or 100 and having a toolbox to work on. Is that correct?

 

Tony Knight 00:32:45

Absolutely. I think the operative word, and I know this is very much part of my training, is play. Give yourself permission to play, because without a sense of play, you won't explore different choices. But sometimes you've got to be disciplined, you've got to create your play yourself. So that's why I use that term, give yourself permission to play. Don't wait for a director or another actor to give you that permission. You need to find that within yourself, going and you're an actor, just muck around and do it, just do it. But it's amazing how you've got to kind of say, as I said, give yourself permission to play. Because actors worry about, am I OK? Am I doing it right? Is this the right thing to do? And all actors worry about this. And usually it is, it's an issue of confidence. But I do think that playing and finding variations in what you're doing, technically, I can say variations in pitch, pace and volume, just on a vocal level or variations in action is what is also on a technical level. That's all there. That's all on a technical level. But ultimately, did you see that wonderful thing that Meryl Streep did improvising the telephone conversation? For Don't Look Up. They screened it.

 

David John Clark 00:34:00

I heard about that. And they didn't know what she was doing. She just went with it?

 

Tony Knight 00:34:04

She just came about. She just started improvising, completely unscripted. It was brilliant. And they just kept the camera rolling and she offered so many different variations, mucking around, I think that's actually really important. That was like a really great acting lesson to watch because she was playing, just mucking around. Interesting, though, she was watching her, she was quite away from the camera. She was up against the back wall of the set, because this was only just going to be sort of like a grab. It wasn't necessarily going to be something that was, but because it was so interesting to watch her improvising on a phone.

 

David John Clark 00:34:45

It worked.

 

Tony Knight 00:34:46

It worked. Yeah. And you just saw that. Now I believe that anybody can do what Meryl Streep did with that. Anybody can do that. That's just sheer having the guts and mucking around and playing and giving yourself permission to play, to find a variation of certain things I know within my rehearsals and hoping my acting classes, but particularly my rehearsals. I believe it's got to have been some of the film studios sets I've worked on with it like Aron with Warpath.

 

David John Clark 00:35:20

Warpath.

 

Tony Knight 00:35:20

Aron was great. Aron was terrific in the sense of actually the playfulness that he can actually create on set. And that's why I'm happy to work with Aron again, because it's just fun. But at the same time, you know, very clearly he knows what he wants, but he actually encourages you to play. And that was just a wonderful experience. So I do think that's the most important thing, permission to play.

 

David John Clark 00:35:46

I love it. And Meryl Streep, everyone says that she is such a wonderful actress, and she is. But I've heard so many stories about that, where she just goes and just runs with it and has fun. So that makes her the great actress she is, I suppose.

 

Tony Knight 00:36:01

Also remembering, Meryl Streep did come up through New York, but she is a stage actress and will go back to theatre when she can. And a lot of those New Yorker actors are like Robert. Not so much Robert De Niro, but certainly Al Pacino. And they're all New Yorkers, so they all came up through a particular type of training. They don't live in Hollywood.

 

David John Clark 00:36:20

Fair enough. You're a great proponent of Shakespeare, and Shakespeare is part of your classic training and classic stage. And I've had a discussion with you that I lack a little bit of culture, that I haven't had a lot of exposure to Shakespeare at school or in my acting. And I saw Midsummer Night's Dream for the first time in Tasmania when I was down there with my wife Kellie, and I loved it. So how much do you think actors should try and get Shakespeare in their knowledge or even on stage and play it? Does it help? How does it change you as an actor?

 

Tony Knight 00:37:45

Everything. Because it's about the poetry and it's about and finding that poetry within yourself, allowing the language to just fly with it. Because there's nothing like Shakespeare's language. Once you get inside it and allow it in, you start touching on something that's actually quite sublime and beautiful and you realise the imaginative possibilities that are bigger than naturalism for example. The Midsummers Dream is one of the great plays. It means hilarious and there's a beauty in it, and so a grace and audacity and a boldness that you don't necessarily get from a lot of naturalism. So you start thinking of yourself as a poet, I guess. There is something, and I do believe, actors are poets. And the other thing about it's appreciating words with the young people I talk to. And working with Shakespeare at the moment, I'm going, if you don't love words, then you will never be an actor, because your whole life as an actor is going to be involving words. I mean, a lot of other things as well. But it's going to be looking at a script, being interpreting, how do I get that word to work? How am I going to colour that word? And Shakespeare can help you learn that skill of that appreciation of rhythm, which is the only ten pentameter and a whole lot of other crap. But it is the appreciation of words, of the power of language. And Shakespeare is the best. It's not to say that other people aren't good. I mean, Tennessee Williams I love. Also, there's a poet of the theatre, Arthur Miller. There's these great poets of the theatre that actually are wordsmiths. That's why learning the classical theatre, one reason is that it's the issue of language, of how language actually can influence us in communicating and expressing things on a massive scale, which is much bigger than sort of like Home and Away.

 

David John Clark 00:39:47

Because if you've got a really good script, so Shakespeare or just something really written, well, you can have a bad actor do it and it's still be watchable and still be enjoyable, but you can't go the other way around. If you've got a really bad script, it doesn't matter how good the actor is. And we've seen movies done before where you've just gone, that was crap. And it was because, you know, it was written crap and the great actor could do nothing with it.

 

Tony Knight 00:40:10

Yeah, I watched something the other night with Colin Firth. I think he's a really terrific actor. It's a new movie involving a second World War. I better not say what it is. I just went, what the hell is this? Because it was boring. And I read the reviews and they've been okay, but I just thought I just could not get into this thing at all. But I do think it's horses for courses a little bit. I loved Everywhere Everything All At Once. But I know people have some people who hated it. And it's the same with Stranger Things. I mean, I watched Stranger Things partly because I'm teaching that age group and I just talking about it, but I really enjoyed it. And then I watched the Umbrella Academy. But then you meet other people, including young people who absolutely hate it. And I think it touches upon another thing about acting and it's the issue of the imagination and that we talk about actors in highly emotive terms. We talk about the theatre, we talk about film in highly emotive terms. I love that actor. I hate that film and things like that. And we all use those types of words in describing the art form. And you kind of go, Why do we do that? Why do we talk about it in emotive terms? We don't know these people, really and kind of behave as if we do. Even talking about the character of Macbeth, for example, Denzel Washington, the latest ones with Denzel Washington. And we talk about them as if we know them and we don't really. And I think it's got a lot to do with the issue of the power of the imagination and how that certain actors and certain films we're going to love some and others we're not. Our imaginations aren't going to fire. So I think it's a highly selective process and it's not sort of like one solution or one box fits all. I think there's a big variety. I don't particularly like horror films, for example, but I watch them. But I don't particularly like them.

 

David John Clark 00:42:13

Fair enough.

 

Tony Knight 00:42:14

And so that's what I mean about this. They don't do anything for my imagination. Whereas one of my sisters, they hate the Marvel films. They just would never watch any of the Marvel films.

 

David John Clark 00:42:26

I struggle with Marvel and Connor, my son, he'll hear this and go, Dad! But I just can't keep up with them. It's one of the things and I feel it's the same thing over and over.

 

Tony Knight 00:42:37

Yeah, it's the good, the bad and the ugly, basically. It just goes on. I'm getting back into Westerns. 

 

David John Clark 00:42:47

And they're coming back, too, in a different way. It's a new genre in itself, almost.

 

Tony Knight 00:42:52

Yeah. I was teaching a class the other day and their knowledge about the Western was sort of like West World, really. I'm going, okay, well, let's talk about John Ford and the searches and stagecoach and the whole format, because it's a very American form. But Western is actually like Australians do Western. The Dry could be regarded as a Western.

 

David John Clark 00:43:11

True.

 

Tony Knight 00:43:13

Because anything I basically said in the outback and so how the Western has grown as a genre is really fascinating. And it's interesting how the Western drops out of favour and then comes back and it's quite fascinating. I don't mind the superhero films, I just wish they weren't so bloody long, because, like, 3 hours ago. Okay, but interesting actors, especially the Avengers, Robert Downey Jr. And they're all terrific actors. Having a ball, definitely, and Cate Blanchett in Ragnarok was hilarious. But they are very long. But that's why Everywhere and everything and all at once. I just thought that was one of the most imaginative films I've seen in ages. But I do know other people who hated it.

 

David John Clark 00:44:00

And it's funny with the you're saying the Westerns it's also a big thing in Sci-Fi now, even though it's science fiction, it's got that Western feel and the Western tone to it. It seems to be a building thing. Tony, I want to just step away from acting just a little bit. I brought this up at the start of the podcast. But in discussions with you, and over time since I've met you, I'm always amazed at your knowledge of history, particularly Australian history. And I'm almost embarrassed at times by the lack of my knowledge in so many areas of Australian history. And you've mentioned how many people don't know their own history or even in the city that they live in? And you've talked about Adelaide, for example, and Adelaide only one city and it's the same in every city. How many people don't know the history of where they live? In particular, you've brought up statues, that there's so many statues in the city and we walk past them every day and we don't know who these people are. Where have you learned all this? What made you have such a great understanding of that? And does that affect your teaching and your acting? Do you think we need to know a lot more about our history for that?

 

Tony Knight 00:45:08

Well, I think history is associated with national identity as well as patriotism. I'm a proud Australian and I'm now proud of South Australian because it's actually associated with the land. And just as what you listen to indigenous people talk about the importance of indigenous culture, which I completely agree with and support, and we need to know a lot more about that. And the way that language is coming into our schooling, I think it's absolutely fantastic. So that's a whole process that's just beginning. But white culture is also european culture is also quite important here. And I don't think that should be dismissed, even though there's a whole lot of things involving colonialism that is not particularly admirable, but let's say a little bit clear of that. Let's just deal with the history of theatre and the history of Australian theatre and the history of Australian film, which is absolutely brilliant. And there are so many fantastic actors. And, I mean, one story I love talking to the South Australians about is how did Semaphore get its name? And you have this man called George Coppin, who called himself the Australian for the father of Australian theatre, and he built the Queen's Theatre in the city. And Coppin had the pub out at Semaphore. And Semaphore, of course, is associated with the signals, but it was called something else then. But the original signing came from Coppin's Pub because he'd see a ship coming in and then he would send off signals to his pubs and his theatre in town.

 

David John Clark 00:46:42

Wow.

 

Tony Knight 00:46:44

So Coppin actually becomes, names, the suburb of Singapore, of Semaphore. And so it's little stories like that. And of course, when I've talked about in the statue in Hindley Street, there's this statue of this entertainer called Roy Rene. And I always bring it up is how many people have walked by and said, they all know the statue, they've all seen it because it's quite an iconic thing. And then I go, who is it? And that's when you get stuck and I get told things like which I love it. Oh, it's an old bum that the city fathers took pity on. But this is our greatest clown and he's looking across at the place where he was born in Hindley Street. What I find with the young ones, especially with the young ones, they just need to be guided and go, okay, well, that's who he is. And then they'll find out about Roy Rene and there's lots and lots of others. Lots and lots of others. I mean, you mentioned about statues. I am a little bit obsessed with statues. There's this huge argument about tearing down some of them, to be honest with you. Tear down the ones of Queen Victoria. They're always so boring. She always looks so sad and depressed. And I'm not a big fan of Victoria anyway. But there's a couple of public statues that the three oldest ones in Adelaide. The oldest one is the Canova Venus outside Government House. And this caused a scandal at the time. The thing about all this sort of stuff is you can create plays and films about it all because it's stories. And so when they revealed the Canova Venus, there was an outcry because she's half naked and it was a big scandal and things like that. But then I go a little bit further regarding art and things like that. What's extraordinary about the Canova Venus is a Canova statue, and Canova is next to Michelangelo in the world of art regarding statues. And it's amazing what that statue has seen over the last 100 years. People have doused it with petrol and set it alight. It's got hats on it often, or scarves, but it's been there as a silent witness, if you'd like, with the history of Adelaide since 1892. It's been a constant presence in that. So I think you can create a whole play about this, that this statue has always been there. And what's remarkable about it artistically is the statue of Venus stepping from a bath and being surprised by something, but it doesn't tell you what she's been surprised by. That's up to you in your imagination to work out. One of the other ones is outside of the football stadium. It's Hercules Farnese. I think that's the second oldest. And then there's the Boer War statue. They're the three oldest statues in Adelaide and they're all terrific and they've all got little things about them that are really important. Fascinate me, because I'm weird, is the base, for example, of the Boer War statue. The statue itself was designed by an Englishman, but the base is from Murray Bridge, and that's actually one of the first ever statues that came from the country. Regarding Sandstone base, especially from Murray Bridge. And if those little details you go those little first, I do talk about also South Australian poets like CJ Dennis, who came from Auburn with Sentimental Bloke. Hans Heyson up at Hahndorf. And you can actually go to the place where he did all his marvellous works and then story about Hans Heyson, who is one of my favourite painters. And look, that art gallery of South Australia is actually a fantastic art gallery. It's got so many wonderful things and constant new things. People talk about, say about Adelaide's, very conservative, is Adelaide is very boring. And I go, well, you should get out more.

 

David John Clark 00:50:54

You said that! 

 

Tony Knight 00:50:57

Adelaide is not boring. You can always do there's always something on. So I always think that you just got to I'm a bit like this with any city I've lived in, getting involved in the history and wanting to know more about it, good and bad, because there is good and bad. I mean, the colonials well, across the entire country, it's pretty bad. Regarding the treatment of Aboriginals, it's bred from everywhere, but also there's parts of South Australia. South Australia is quite stunning in its landscapes and this majestic beauty. And Alex, I'm writing a foreword for Alex Frames new book on landscapes. And Alex is a friend and a mentor, and the way he photographs the South Australian landscape, it has a majestic beauty, but it's also quite haunting. But Alex never judges it. What I like about his work, there's not a sort of like a moralistic thing saying, this is beautiful, or anything, this is bad. There's quite a haunting quality in his work, which I think captures what a lot of South Australia is like, especially when you go into the really remote areas, up into the Flinders Ranges, I mean, there's this extraordinary beauty about it all. It's not like what you find when you go to New South Wales or Queensland or through Victoria. It's very South Australian. I quite love all of this, to be honest. I guess I'm coming around to your question, because there's always a mystery. I guess there's a mystery. It's trying to understand what is the soul of this place, what is the spiritual essence? And it's usually in the land, basically, and in the topography. I mean, Matthew Flinders thought the land from Adelaide to Melbourne was the most rugged coastline in the entire world. And there's about 600 shipwrecks out there.

 

David John Clark 00:52:53

Wow.

 

Tony Knight 00:52:53

Yeah. Which we've only got about 300. But there are massive amounts of shipwrecks out there. There's just so many different things. The history of Adelaide is actually quite fascinating. I think I told you this. I got into a bit of trouble up in Hahndorf because I found out there was a Nazi party up there. But I wanted to find out more, but of course I couldn't because it's all closed down. But apparently in the early 30s, there was a Nazi party up there.

 

David John Clark 00:53:19

Wow. There you go.

 

Tony Knight 00:53:21

See, that's a story. You see, that's the subject of a drama or of a play. I mean, they're about to do the Evonne Goolagong Cawley story at the Australian Theatre Company, which is brilliant. And I think that's why history is important. And it's very difficult to teach Australian history, though, especially in schools, because it's so violent and it's so sexual, if you like, because you're dealing with a lot of even though Adelaide prizes itself on no convicts, it doesn't mean that you didn't have a whole lot of salubrious characters running around during the Gold Rush and things like that. You did it's pretty raw, it's pretty rough, but I find it quite exciting, actually.

 

David John Clark 00:54:05

But isn't that the same with all history? We've got a very short history. So does it become more focused because we can see it in such a short period in other countries and other worlds over the hundreds of years? History can be a terrible thing, but we learn from that. And the idea is not to cover up history, but to actually learn from it and make stories of it, isn't it?

 

Tony Knight 00:54:27

Absolutely. What it's called? The Santiago Principle of History. Those who ignore the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat it. I think, unfortunately, we do see that, especially, I think, in the handling of the land. And I found that with the whole Covid pandemic, when the Covid pandemic hit, and I do think Nicola Spurrier and Steven Marshall led us through three years, especially Nicola Spurrier, through quite a difficult time. We had three days of lockdown, Melbourne had nine months. We didn't have people being buried in the middle of our parklands like happened in New York. So, yes, we came out of this thing pretty well, which I'm very grateful for. But when it started going, I'm going, haven't we been through this before? And it was because I was remembering what it was like in the 90s, going through an AIDS first hit and the HIV pandemic, and it was the same level of misinformation, the same sort of hysteria, the same thing about, oh, it's a gay disease, so we don't need to worry about it. And you know how people are walking around with Covid saying, oh, it's just the flu, and I'm kind of going to my gay friends going, we've been through this, we've been through all this before, but we haven't learnt from it. I found all that into a big misinformation and I just found it quite disturbing that we actually haven't changed so much. In fact, I think it got worse because of social media with that spread of things and people getting so angry about it all. And I'm going, this is not the way to work through this of dealing with plagues. And so that's the other thing regarding history can teach you how do you deal with a plague? And the history of mankind is full of all these things. But I just think it's also one of the most important things for actors is to inspire imagination. And you've got to feed your imagination. If you wish to grow as an actor, you've got to continually feed your imagination. And that history. Art galleries going to see movies stepping out of your comfort zone. I'm talking to just recently, if you can afford it, have you ever seen an opera? Latraviate is on at the moment. Great opera. If you've never seen an opera, that's a great one to begin with, go and see it. If you can't afford to go and it's expensive, but it's things like that, it's just constantly expand your imagination. That's how you're going to improve as an actor.

 

David John Clark 00:56:58

And I've been doing that and I've been to a couple of Mark Clements and Stephanie Rossi's plays that you're a coproducer with their Stark Productions. That's correct? Is that and you direct their plays. And so I've got along to support them. And it's so different to be able to see stuff on stage. And as I said before, I went to Tasmania and saw my first Shakespeare play, and I can see that I need to do a lot more of it. And I'm looking forward to my retirement and my wife and I can go and do that because not just for my acting background, but just my culture in itself is going to be so much.

 

Tony Knight 00:57:32

It's the fact that you actually went to the Mid Summer Night's Dream and rather it being a terrible experience, which it could have been. It was a great experience. And so your desire to go and see more, you're an actor of course it's going to happen. Of course it's going to happen because it Shakespeare and it's like brilliant. But the very fact. That you actually have got that desire that means it's worked, that means something's been ignited inside that, you know, and you're going to pursue it. That's so good. As a director, when that happens, you go, okay, I've done my job. Something has worked here. 

 

David John Clark 00:58:07

And I like the idea of seeing how people, both in Shakespeare or just a movie or stories, how characters are different and people are different and we were touching on before with Covid, how it's changed the culture a little bit. I work at an airport and the difference in people today, compared to three years ago, people are angrier and people are more concerned about their own welfare that they'll step over people now, so to speak, because I don't know whether that's changed, Covid's changed people and that will change our stories as well, won't it?

 

Tony Knight 00:58:43

I agree with you, David. I've noticed a certain I mean, it's balance. There's great acts of kindness as well, but I've noticed that there's a heightened anger. I think the issue of climate change is adding to it as well. You just have to look at in Europe, all the rivers are drying up. Anybody who says there's no climate change I think is an idiot because there are major problems with it all now, the full impact of it all. But I'm planning to come off social media again soon, as I often do. I find social media very distressing. You need it as a necessary evil to communicate and to promote shows, but boy.

 

David John Clark 00:58:43

 It can be toxic. 

 

Tony Knight 00:58:43

It's toxic. I don't like to me personally, I noticed you laugh at me because you're wonderful friends, but am I ranting then I look at and go, Tony, really, why are you so angry? Just get off the damn thing. Go read a book and I'm sure you've seen it. I've avoided airports. I've been driving because partly because I don't want to be involved. I've also noticed that people are reluctant to go to the theatre. There's a real push to try and get people back into the theatre, but it's so expensive now, it's really expensive and you've got always going to be have the problem of our Covid or flu or something and yes, I have noticed there is a cutting quality of sort of like, no, I'm all right and in order to be all right, I've got to cut people off. I think I do it myself a little bit. Not necessarily rudely, but it's more I mean, I am immune compromised. I am 65, so I am in that age group where I've really got to be careful, and I think it has resulted in the distancing.

 

David John Clark 01:00:34

Well, let's move away from that Covid morbid discussion and mindful of time. I just wanted to bring it quickly back to acting and start to wind up. Now, you've recently spoke with Flinders in part of the English and Creative Writing Seminar series. You're doing a PhD at Flinders on. Richard Burbage, Shakespeare's actor and the art of personation. Now, I've read a little bit into it and it sounds absolutely awesome. Can you just give us a bit of a background, what you're writing there and what you're seeing from that from Richard Burbage in the acting world?

 

Tony Knight 01:01:13

I've always been fascinated with Richard Burbage because he stands there as this sort of mystery. Because just like Shakespeare, we don't know very much. We know certain things about him, but we don't really know a lot. But yes, at the same time, Richard Burbage is possibly this is part of my premise is possibly the greatest actor in the world has ever known because all these roles were written for him, which is Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear and not just Shakespeare, but there's virtually every other dramatist were writing for Richard Burbage. And what's strange, after 400 years, these roles, many of them are still being performed. Now, no other actor can't say that has got such a legacy. And so it's quite unique. But he sits there as a mystery. Who is this guy? What was he like? Who inspired the other writers like Shakespeare to write Hamlet, to write Macbeth? Othello, Lear? I mean, virtually all of them. And so I'm exploring this issue of him of trying to work out exactly what he did now to personate, that was what was called his style of acting which really develops in the 1590s. Essentially, it's a combination of two things. When you think about a character like Richard the Third or Othello. It's involving the complete immersion of the actor, the complete transformation of the actor into a character. Very much in the way that we talk about how we talk about Gary Oldman in Dangerous Hours, Darkest Hours, or Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln or even Merryl Streep. This type of actor, we want to see them transform. We know they're transforming. It's self conscious. But that's what we love about them is that they will twist their bodies and their voices and their whole things into a different shape. Shape shifting, if you like. And so that's very much Burbage. The other side about him is this issue of he was praised for doing it so truly to life which is a bit awkward because you go, okay, we don't have any images of what he was like in performance glimpses, written glimpses. But there is what I call globe style naturalism. You wouldn't call it sort of 21st century naturalism but it's associated with the dynamics of that particular stage, which is three dimensional. It's not like working on a procenia march. You've got audiences on three sides. And so the actors working in a very particular way. The expression of human emotion, which is the playwrights, which we still use to define the expression of emotions today. Not necessarily Shakespeare in the Shakespearean language but Shakespeare articulates feelings and emotions for the first time. But we still use these things. And it's very interesting regarding concepts of masculinity, which, of course, this is where it gets really scary. But we do define issues of masculinity partly through Shakespeare. Macbeth is a bad tyrant, beset with witches and things like that. Or the hero, such as like an Anthony or Henry V. We still work with these definitions of masculinity, which can be problematic because one of the things I'm concentrating at the moment is the Burbage role, if you like, and its relationship with women. Basically, it's hostile. It's called extremely misogynistic. And it is. Yet at the same time, there's something else going on, which is because this is the idea of men taming women. We're expected to keep women in control. We like the Taming of the Shrew. But when you start looking at what Burbage's relationships are with the female characters are and things like a Hamlet or any of them, really regarding taming women, it's a spectacular failure time and time again. And so I'm questioning, going, Is this deliberate? Are they doing it deliberately? Actually setting something up to say how we deal with women even in this period? Because they all fail. Every time a Burbage character tries to tame a woman, it's a failure. It ends in disaster completely.

 

David John Clark 01:05:43

Maybe that's just something about women over the times, thats good.

 

Tony Knight 01:05:48

Yeah. There's lots of questions whether I come up with actually definite answers. I'm still in that process. So I'm doing all this and forming questions, going, well, why is this like this? What's this? It's fascinating how certain things come into play. There are glimpses of him in action, such as when Banquo's Ghosts appears. There's a glimpse of him on how he did what he did, which was turn and drop a cup. It means a small physical gesture, but you just get a hint because that's not in the script. And you go, So that's what he originally was holding a glass. He sees Banquo's Ghost and he drops it. That's a Burbage invention. And I'm looking for little things like that so I can try and get a hold on him. I think he's a very physical actor. Extremely physical. And once again, the whole training of actors. So he was obviously really good at weaponry. Extremely good at it, actually. And as well as handing massive amounts of verse a huge memory.

 

David John Clark 01:06:54

Wow.

 

Tony Knight 01:06:55

Because how many characters would you have had me brand? One point.

 

David John Clark 01:07:01

Certainly something for all actors will be able to take something away from that, even today?

 

Tony Knight 01:07:06

I think so, because it's the birth of what we call the English acting legacy. So it's the birth of what we understand and the very fact that it's still being done after 400 years because of all these roles still being done. So I do believe that every time anybody gets up there and does anything like a transformation or like a Hamlet, there's a little bit of Richard Burbage in there. Always.

 

David John Clark 01:07:29

Awesome. And how far away are you away from completing that?

 

Tony Knight 01:07:34

About another year, when I get time to do it.

 

David John Clark 01:07:37

And that will be available for people to read when you are finished. They publish those, don't they?

 

Tony Knight 01:07:41

Yeah. And then there's the idea of turning it into a book, actually. A proper book.

 

David John Clark 01:07:46

Or a movie.

 

Tony Knight 01:07:47

Or a movie.

 

David John Clark 01:07:49

I love it. All right, Tony, I think we could talk for another hour and I reckon if you're up for it, maybe in season two next year, we'll bring you back and we talk again. I just want to end up quickly. I call it the Fast Round or quick questions I'm just going to throw at you and then we'll let you go. What would be your T shirt quote? If you were to get a shirt, what quote would you have on your T shirt?

 

Tony Knight 01:08:15

Fabulous.

 

David John Clark 01:08:17

Fabulous. Love it.

 

Tony Knight 01:08:20

Or: Awesome.

 

David John Clark 01:08:24

I wanted to ask this one. Do you have a favourite monologue or a favourite scene that you like yourself or that you like to see actors perform?

 

Tony Knight 01:08:33

Yes, I do, actually. Well, I've got a number of them. One I like very much is from an obscure play called Life Is A Dream by Calderon de la Barca, and it comes at the it's one of the Spanish classical pieces, and in the Spanish classical theatre, it's their equivalent of To Be or not to Be. And it's about how our life is like a dream, essentially. We imagine things, we think we have one idea of reality, but then it can turn and it's not real. And so this issue of truth and Illusion, which comes into Hamlet as well, of course, but that's one of my favourite speeches ever. It's called the life is a dream speech.

 

David John Clark 01:09:15

Awesome. I'll be looking that up, for sure. I had a question here. Are you bingeing anything on TV? But I think you've already mentioned that. The Stranger Things.

 

Tony Knight 01:09:26

Just watch Catherine the Great because Tony McNamara wrote it. an Australian writer and director, and he's responsible for it all. And look, it's relevant, it's stupid, but wonderfully entertaining. So I actually enjoyed those two seasons.

 

David John Clark 01:09:43

Cool. Is there anything you think we've missed? That's probably a silly question, because I think we've probably missed heaps.

 

Tony Knight 01:09:50

Why did you call this the late bloomer actor?

 

David John Clark 01:09:55

I'm the late bloomer actor. It came across as a branding sort of thing. I had an opportunity to go and work with a film and television school in Melbourne. They were running out of here in Adelaide and I actually won a scholarship with them. So I tried to raise some funds just to help out because I wasn't in a position. And I called it the late bloomer actor. That was my fundraising. And the crew at Type Talent invited me in once for one of their talk sessions as an actor, and they brought it up when they were talking about branding. So when I wanted to do a podcast. there it goes. That was my brand for my podcast. So I started out doing the podcast to meet other late bloomer actors and to bring in industry guests. I'm leaning towards now being my journey as a late bloomer actor and learning from others and what I've learned from people like yourself so that's what it is.

 

Tony Knight 01:10:53

I think it's great.

 

David John Clark 01:10:53

 Thank you. 

 

Tony Knight 01:10:53

No. I really do because David. You're not alone there's a lot of what would be called late bloomers actors a lot and very good ones who actually don't start until their late thirties.

 

David John Clark 01:11:09

And I'm surprised and that's what I'm looking forward because acting itself. It doesn't matter when you start there can be so many troughs in your journey. So many down moments where you just go can I cut it? Am I cutting it? And even today you've elated me, lifted me, to know that I'm on the right journey. I'm on the right path and I'm learning the right things and I'm getting what I want and that's what I want to bring to my listeners and to other actors is it keeps striving for what you want to reach and you'll make it.

 

Tony Knight 01:11:39

One thing I've noticed talking to young people at the moment. Which is full of anxiety I mean. They're very full of anxiety actually yeah. Because partly what's happened with Covid. And I wouldn't be surprised if numbers go down a little bit regarding becoming actors because they're very aware of the precariousness of the profession and I'm not sure if they want to go down that path which I understand completely and I do say. Well. You can do both if you get a job as a teacher or something like that qualifications. You can still act but these days in many ways. Yes. You do need to have a backup of something to do because it's hard. Somebody has a profession but it doesn't stop you but I'm just very aware that there's a frightened quality but I also turned around and say. And I'm sure you understand this about a nervousness or a restlessness that we're always full of self doubt we're always full of self doubt that's part of it. It's how we live with that self doubt I mean. I know with Steph. Mark and myself we're always going oh God. Is this going to work? And I think we always do it's how we actually negotiate that and not allow doubt to dominate because if we allow the self doubt to dominate then we stop being active and it's always about the doing. I do think it's actually part of it more and more and I know young people look at me going but how do you live with that? And I go and go well, I've lived with it for 60 odd years, I have no idea but I've managed to actually deal with it but do I get paranoid? Do I get nervous about it? Fearful? Yeah, of course. But is that the buzz? Is that part of the buzz? I don't know.

 

David John Clark 01:13:25

Life in general isn't about how you overcome all that as well and move forward.

 

Tony Knight 01:13:29

But I'm talking about performance specifically and actually getting up there and doing something in front of somebody else or creating a work that there's always this you kind of go, Why am I doing it? And sometimes, I don't know, I'll be the first to admit, I don't know why. I just do it, but I don't actually think too much. That's what I did say. These young people looking at me curiously, and I'm going, I'm seeing them at 65. I'm still working it out. Maybe that's it. All right. Okay.

 

David John Clark 01:14:02

Awesome. We can do the whole next episode of podcast on that alone. I think that's awesome. Tony, thank you very much. This has been absolutely brilliant. I'm so excited to have you on board and to hear from what you know, from acting and history and everything about it. I think we've only just touched on the baseline of your knowledge and your background, and it's great what you have brought to the Australian acting community and the people you've brought up. And it's such a wonderful asset to South Australia that you're here now and you're teaching with so many different classes and a couple of the schools here and passing your knowledge on everyone here in South Australia. So I love it. Thank you very much.

 

Tony Knight 01:14:47

Thanks, David. Thank you.

 

David John Clark 01:14:49

Cheers. We'll see you on set, as I like to say.

 

Tony Knight 01:14:53

Okay.

 

David John Clark 01:14:54

Thank you, Tony.

 

Tony Knight 01:14:55

All right.