Ben Small plays Boolie Werthan in our upcoming production of Driving Miss Daisy. Ben recently returned to Perth stages after a 15-year hiatus. He doesn’t know how he survived without treading the boards for that long. We asked him some light-hearted questions about theatre to really make him ponder what makes theatre such a great thing to be involved with.
Give us 5 reasons people should come to see Driving Miss Daisy.
- A gentle, subtle but deeply moving Pulitzer Prize winning script;
- A cast and director that immediately clicked from our first read-through;
- A story that addresses universal and timeless themes: Racism and bigotry, friendship and love, the inevitabilities of ageing, the changing dynamics between ageing parents and their adult children;
- Support for the Arts in Western Australia;
- The experience of top-quality theatre in a beautiful, valuable, well-appointed community facility.
What are 5 things you have learned about theatre since getting involved?
- Theatre allows us to reflect on ourselves, on the experience of being human, to celebrate life, and it is a haven for the sensitive and creative;
- Theatre relies as heavily on teamwork as any sport. The life lessons you expect your children to learn from team sports they will learn in theatre – and then some;
- Theatre is not all about actors. Every role involved in putting together a production is of equal importance, from the director to the ushers, from the lighting techs to the costuming team;
- A performance is a collaboration between the performers and the audience. The energy and feedback you get from an audience is immediate and palpable. Stage is vastly different from screen in so many vital ways;
- Theatre requires work and dedication. It is a million miles away from merely playing dress-ups and standing in a spotlight.
What are your 5 best theatre memories?
- Getting a standing ovation after a solo while performing a dream musical theatre role in my youth;
- Standing in the wings with the rest of the cast and crew when we all spontaneously sang for the soloist on stage who suddenly lost her voice entirely after a bout of pneumonia;
- Seeing Hugh Jackman play Gaston in Beauty and the Beast before anyone knew who he was;
- Watching one of my fellow cast members flawlessly recover and carry on from an accident on stage;
- Seeing my beloved grandmother’s face with tears of joy in her eyes while Mary Poppins floated over the audience at the last theatrical performance I took her to. I had the same face at the first theatrical performance she ever took me to when I was a child.
Which 5 shows would you most like to perform in?
I don’t really have any dream roles or shows. I mean, Boolie is a gift of a role, but I would never have thought of it if the opportunity didn’t arise. I’ll just see where the muses take me.
What are your top 5 lines from a stage/film/tv production?
I honestly can’t think of any. Once a show is over, the lines immediately evaporate from my head. And I’m not one for busting out random movie quotes. I’m usually the one going, “Oh, I know that one! What’s it from again?!”