Olivia Tennet: To be of not to be... an actress

Actress Olivia Tennet.
Actress Olivia Tennet.

What was your funniest performing moment?

During a performance of Auckland Theatre Company's Stepping Out, I was waiting backstage for my next scene when I leant back against a staircase, which had two railings running along beside it. I made the mistake of tilting my head back slightly too far and, as I lifted my head to watch the action onstage, I realised, to my horror, that my head had become wedged between the two railings. My cue was fast approaching as I tried desperately to free myself. Luckily, just at that moment, my castmate Adam happened to walk past. My plight was so ridiculous that he initially thought I was joking, but my flailing arms soon told him otherwise. He quickly lifted my body into a horizontal position and slid me out with seconds to spare. I've never lived that one down.

Your worst performing moment?

As part of the production of The Wizard of Oz at the Civic Theatre in 2011, the cast included a live kunekune pig, named Pumpkin, to add to the authenticity of the Kansas farmyard scenes.

During one evening performance, Pumpkin decided to relieve herself onstage. Unfortunately there was no time to mop it up before the 100-plus munchkins filed on excitedly and sat down in the resulting puddle. As I made my way through the crowd to begin singing, the pungent aroma hit me ... and many of the munchkins. This, as well as watching the obvious discomfort on the children's faces, made for a difficult, but perhaps more pertinent rendition of Follow The Yellow Brick Road.

What's your biggest fear about performing?

As an actor, you are constantly subjecting yourself to evaluation and criticism of every performance, which can be pretty scary. I'm also a terrible "corpser" and see the funny side of any situation, so the thought of getting the uncontrollable giggles onstage is terrifying. It hasn't happened yet, thank goodness!

Olivia Tennet performs in the Auckland premiere of 360 - a theatre of recollections, January 13-25 at The Civic.

- NZ Herald

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