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August 8, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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Paul Waggott

Paul Waggott has graced the stages of his Whangarei High school, 77 Fairlie Terrace, BATS, Downstage, and now Circa Theatre. You may have seen him in DOORS. WALLS. AND ALSO SILENCE., Dog Sees God (for which he won Most Promising Male Newcomer at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards), think of all the fun you’ll find in the rubber room and, most recently, Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants at Downstage. Sam Phillips sat down for a chat in between rehearsals for his new play at Circa, Eight.

Tell us about Eight.

Well, it’s a new play from a young British writer who is trying to give a voice to this new generation. The gimmick, I suppose, is that each night the audience votes on what characters get to perform. So we each have two characters with monologues, and each character is dressed by a different Wellington fashion label.

You have received some impressive praise for your work in the last few years, but what stands out as your favourite play?

Oh wow, I’ve got to be careful not to offend anyone here! I think Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants was the most rewarding play I’ve done, but last year I was in a Fringe show called Sometimes I Don’t Like Yellow all about a guy who starts turning people into pineapples. It was hilarious and crazy!

Tell us about Dog Sees God, which won you the Chapman Tripp best newcomer award.

That was a hard role, and I had to bleach my hair, which stung. But it was great to get that award; it was a real affirmation that I’m not the only one who thinks me acting is a good idea.

What does it mean to be an ‘artist’ in Wellington?

Wellington is such a big family; you know there’s the nice, advice giving grandparents, and the aunties who drink too much… But BATS is awesome—to have a theatre like that with an open door policy is just such a gift.

Do you have any advice for Salient’s readers on what it takes to be a working actor in Wellington?

At the moment my aim is to make it as a full-time actor, so I don’t feel like I am in a position to be giving advice. But I will say that you need to be able to back yourself—you need to believe that you have a story to tell. Because it is tough, finding that next job. And you cannot want to do it because “you want to get famous”. You need to do the sort of acting that fills your soul.

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