Interview: Oliver Devlin

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The show Yorick! is heading to Q Theatre in Auckland this week. 

In the midst of the ruin of an exploded production of Hamlet and some musical (Cats?), four of New Zealand’s top performers strike out on an optimistic quest to understand mortality. From the fear of the unknown, the vastness of outer space and those bad jokes you inevitably make at funerals, Yorick! sends our reality into hilarious, moonwalking disarray and leaves us with the only certainty - our end is on its way.

We had a chance to first some questions the way of cast member Oliver Devlin.

How did you get involved with Yorick? 

I've been working with Binge Culture since 2015, when I was brought in to help develop the show that would become Ancient Shrines and Half Truths which I travelled with to Edinburgh last year. At some point Joel found out I was also a songwriter and musical theatre fan so brought me in to the second round of development for Yorick - what was that in 2016? 

This is the first time Binge Culture have experimented with musical theatre. Is all going to plan? 

At this stage, just before the show opened - absolutely! I feel like a lot of hard work and planning has paid off big time. Which is not to say it hasn't been challenging. In the last stage of the process we've also been working with some real experts like Jake Baxendale our arranger and the all-star band he put together to record the backing tracks - as well as our vocal coach Fiona McCabe who is just a dream. 

Who was in charge of creating the musical aspects? 

The songs were devised by the cast and Joel and I - where a provocation would be set and we'd improvise lyrics and a melodies. I'd sort through all the improvs and construct the songs from there. 

It was a new direction for me, learning how to write songs in this really collaborative, improv based way which I now feel like I more or less understand. The final song we wrote for the show turned up maybe last Wednesday in about an hour - whereas some of the more complicated songs took several days of me sitting around singing "I don't want to die" over and over until I hit a tune that worked. 

My favourite tunes have been the ones that just flew out in a moment of inspiration from the cast, polished up a little by me, and then dressed to the nines by Jake and his amazing band. 

How have the rehearsals been going so far? 

Rehearsals have been really solid, challenging and hilarious. The development has been so collaborative that everyone in the room has real stakes in the process and is properly dedicated to doing it right. It is also a really honest room which has been a privilege for me to be a part of as the subject matter can get quite heavy. We're all keen to look after each other and voice our own concerns as they arise. It's also a super ambitious show with a lot of moving parts, but we've got such a professional team with true heroes like our producer and collaborator Mel. The design from Meg Rollandi and lighting from Rachel Marlow is also looking super beautiful and surprising. Like I said it is a properly collaborative show with everyone’s creativity feeding into the conception of the whole, I'm really proud of it. 

Is there a good camaraderie with the cast? 

Yes definitely - genuine camaraderie and affection I would say. 

For someone who hasn’t been to a Binge Culture show before, what can they expect? 

It’s a really fun time, and a uniquely engaging and challenging theatrical experience. While it's not interactive theatre, it's not your average "sit over there and watch the actors act" show either. It plays with the form, its moving, its strange and beautiful and honest. 

Following this run with Yorick, what plans do you have then? 

Gonna have a big sleep, visit my parents, write and record another album with my band and start planning another musical. 


Tuesday Jun 12 - Saturday Jun 23 2018 - 7.30 PM
Q Theatre -  Loft, Auckland

70 mins, no interval
Ticket price: $20 - 35 (booking fees may apply)

Info and tickets: