Jo Richards

Hero

RECENT THEATRE EXPERIENCE

Trained at American Repertory Theatre Institute at Harvard by the Moscow Art Theatre, Joanna was fortunate to play Natasha in Three Sisters and Yelena in Uncle Vanya. Stage credits in Canberra include Harrison in Boys Will Be Boys (The Street Theatre) the title role of Atajara in Widowbird (The Street Theatre) and various music theatre works at QCC including Linda in Blood Brothers and Serena in Fame, both directed by Stephen Pike. Recent television and film credits include, ABC’s Rake and SF she played the lead in Scott O’Brien’s short film ...Comes Around (SiGiL Films). Joanna completed a degree in International Relations at ANU, followed by a scholarship to Harvard University. The 2015 ACT Telstra’s Young Businesswoman of the Year, she is the first PhD candidate to be accepted into Virginia Haussenger’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation.

 

ON SHAKESPEARE
I think Shakespeare’s work is a necessary lesson and a privilege for any actor to perform. When read, the language can feel ceremonious and unaccessible, and this can be exacerbated by seeing performances where the work is overacted. One great performance of Shakespeare can change all of that.  For the actor, it teaches you to be humble. You need the learn the words and the rhythms so well that you can deliver them casually, as if you are simply voicing your thoughts as they come to you.  That isn’t actually as difficult as it seems because the text is so natural when understood. If you actually commit as an actor to putting in the hard yards you create something that is accessible, enjoyable, and quite simply brilliant for your audience to enjoy. It is all about prioritising the text. Actor’s love to prioritise their instincts. You have to put ego to the side and accept that Shakespeare’s instincts are better than yours. Text must always come first, and yet the work allows you such room to explore. Everything Shakespeare writes can be stretched; you can really develop things using the text as your base. There really is no other theatre like Shakespeare, and that’s why not a year goes by without a production being put on somewhere, if not, in the world.

 

ON SHAKESPEARE BY THE LAKES 

For all those people who studied Shakespeare in school and decided it wasn’t for them, this is the time for you to give it a second chance. Grab a rug, a bagel, and wine, and just see if you enjoy it. You have nothing to lose, it’s free! Shakespeare didn’t write to exclude people from his audience, he wrote so that everyone could enjoy his work. There is something so important about art that is available to everyone. There is a reason that people are more likely to go to the movies than the theatre, and it’s not the special effects, it’s the ticket price. You should be able to have your smashed avo, and enjoy Shakespeare too.

 

ON HERO

I just finished a role where I was unequivocally bad and I did something unforgivable. If there is one thing that you can say about Hero, she is good. In fact, that might be her one defining quality! It is certainly a welcomed change. Hero is an important foil for Beatrice; she is the ‘ideal woman’ as prescribed by Elizabethan society, and she still gets the raw end of the deal. I don’t really know much more at this stage, but I am excited to further understand how I feel about her!

 


ON GETTING THE ROLE I was...

Very excited. I work in feminist research, and perhaps it’s a stretch, but I see Much Ado as a criticism of renaissance gender roles. The work is basically an expose of the damage caused by the strict social limitations put on women and the endowment of unquestionable authority given to men simply because of their sex. Shakespeare does not resolve the gender/authority tension at the end of the play, and I like to think it was an intentional effort to spark social debate. This could be a brilliant example of Shakespeare reading me, rather than me reading Shakespeare (see Duncan Driver). I am also fascinated by the concept of public shaming; in the social media age, I think this topic is more prevalent than ever, and it’s intriguing to get to play it out on stage. Despite all of that over-intellectualising I was also enthusiastic to get to perform a comedy! Shakespeare is always a privilege, but Much Ado is a real treat and I received the news as such.