Thursday 11 February 2021

Interview with Madeleine Galea (Actress, Writer, Producer)

Australian actress Madeleine Galea on how the pandemic has affected the arts industry , the zoom boom, and her upcoming film “The Train”.

How has your year been so far?

2021 has been interesting so far, the capitol riots, the continuation of the pandemic and a snow storm here in NYC, but it's also had its positives and I feel excited for what the rest of the year will bring.

I imagine it’s been quite tough on you as an actor, because of the pandemic?

The pandemic really took its toll on myself and many other actors I know. I don’t think any actor ever sought to join this industry for its stability and comfort, but 2020 truly revealed the volatility many artists can face. With industry closures and stay at home orders in place around the country many projects were closed down or indefinitely delayed, and even when new opportunities arose you didn’t want to stake too much on they in case they too didn’t make it. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I had to create last year and if anything, the shut downs reaffirmed for me just how passionate I am about acting and how much I can’t wait to get back on sets and on stage.

The industry has changed a lot since January, 2020. What changes have you noticed?

The industry has indeed seen many changes come into place. In November I started work on a new project and was really blown away by the differences I saw. There are strict limits to how many people can be on set, strict enforcement of ppe, including masks, goggles and face shields. And of course the numerous tests. Before I even got on set for day one of this shoot I think had about 8 Covid tests and was tested daily from then on. I think the strangest change and thing that took me the longest to get used to was not seeing peoples faces. You walk onto a sound stage with 60 crew and you spend the next three weeks with them and no matter how much you talk to each other, you realise at the end that you have absolutely no clue what some people look like. Something I’ve always loved about this industry is being around people and collaboration and with Covid still wrecking havoc that looks very different now.

Have you noticed that there’s more work in commercials, than say film, television and stage, during this time?

It’s hard to tell whether there’s more work in one area or another. I’ve definitely had more commercial auditions since the pandemic began, many brands are happy with you shooting from home, but on the flip side I’ve had friends who’ve solely booked film work. If you’ve got good lighting and audio equipment you can be a real asset for commercials, but not everyone has access to that stuff.

I believe I read that you actually did a play over zoom during this time?

Yes, throughout 2020 I was involved in several staged readings and two full zoom productions. The first play was Punk Rock, after graduating from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts I was invited back to perform with them. It was an interesting creative challenge and I learnt a lot from the process. Most recently I took part in the inaugural Australian Theatre Festival. Originally slated to take place in downtown Manhattan, the festival was moved online and included original plays, a cabaret and an industry panel. I featured in ‘Stranded’, an original piece tackling Australians stranded overseas and their plight to get home. Written by Mark Barford and directed by Mark Barford and Connor Delves, the play was wonderful to be a part of and reinforced for me the importance of creating theatre even if it can’t take place the way we want it to. Mark, Connor and the cast were wonderful to work with and I was very proud of what we could create.

How did you keep busy during it all? I know a lot of actors stayed in and got creative, whether it was by getting a podcast off-the-ground, recording music or learning something new..

I did everything! I baked bread, I started sewing, I made the fancy coffee with the foam on top, I gave my friends haircuts and much more. I started a podcast with my fellow Aussie ex-pat, Therese Roberts. ‘Lying For A Living’ is focused on the experiences of artists working overseas, and how immigration impacts their experiences, you can find it on Apple podcasts and Spotify with season two coming out shortly. Additionally, I spent hours writing, churning out script after script. I’ve always loved writing and honestly having so much time on my hands was somewhat of a blessing.

You started a production company during the pandemic? Can you tell us about some of the projects you’re developing?

We started Quilt Arts back in April of 2020 as a way to give ourselves some autonomy. As five international artists we found that we all had stories we wanted to share and that the roles we were auditioning for weren’t always as artistically satisfying as we would like. The first project we worked on was a collaboration with the World Health Organisation , #WHOartthou, a monologue challenge launched on social media. Additionally our podcast ‘Lying For A Living’ also launched last year, with a second season dropping soon. Alongside new media projects we are also producing more traditional content, with several short films and a TV pilot in the works. ‘Ghosts of Roommates Past’ is a short form comedy TV series, it follows two teenage roommates that are thrown into turmoil on their first day in New York, when it comes to light they might be living with a ghost. They must now deal with the quarrels of co-habitation, both supernatural and otherwise. Some roommates are more alive than others.

You’ve also been in the states, working on films – one of which is The Train”. Can you give us the 411 on it?

The film, which is Stanley’s fourth feature-length, is set in the year 2041, with flashbacks to the present. It focuses on a priest who is trying to save people with supernatural abilities from a group trying to use them for evil purposes. I play Sister Anne, one of several nuns seeking to protect those with special abilities. Shot on 35mm film in black and white, there was a lengthy rehearsal process to make sure that every take counted. The film is slated to premier this year at festivals before a cinematic release starting in Massachusetts. It was great to get back on set after months of industry closure and I’m looking forward to seeing the final cut of the film.