Image courtesy of Andi Snelling
I interviewed actress Andi Snelling about her upcoming solo show #DearDiary, off the back of a sold out season at the Adelaide Fringe 2016. The show is a verbatim, confessional reading of the Diaries Andi kept from age 9-33. After a short introduction:
The Australia Times: So Andi are you from Melbourne?
Andi Snelling (AS): Yes, I grew up in Lilydale.
TAT: Tell me about acting, what got you into the craft?
AS: The thing is I grew up as a dancer, I’ve always been on stage. I made a conscious switch to acting in my twenty’s. I think it was the curiosity of it. Then it got to the point where I thought I could actually do this as a career. I’d always done bits and pieces, like student theatre at Melbourne University.
TAT: What were you studying at University?
AS: I studied French and German at UNI- I thought that was where I was headed but I would always act on the side. My first job was an acting job.
TAT: What was your first acting job?
AS: Actually in Germany. This crazy cowboy show in German. In this Alpine region. Which in summer turned into an amusement park- sort of a carnival. I was there for three months being a cowgirl. I never could have predicted that.
TAT: How did you get that job?
AS: I saw an ad for an audition but I didn’t release that it was a decent job. That’s something that happens to a lot of actors- naivety gets you there. I thought- I’ve actually got it now, I’m working with all these professional actors.
TAT: Did you have any actor role models?
AS: That’s funny because in my show, in my very first diary I mention Jim Carrey. To do this I must have absolutely loved him. As a child I was writing in my diary about him. It totally makes sense I would be drawn to an actor like that, as the direction I’ve taken with my own work is physical comedy. When I wrote that entry I was barely 11 or 12. I had pictures of Brad Pitt but that was for a different reason (laughs).
TAT: What is one of your greatest achievements (can be related to your career or not)
AS: In a way when I was 22, I went off on an adventure to live overseas. Going through all of that on my own and surviving on my own and becoming an actor.
TAT: How long were you overseas?
AS: I was in Berlin for 3 years, London 4 years.
TAT: What brought you back to Melbourne?
AS: To reduce immigration numbers, they targeted a heap of visas- blacklisted some. It was terrible timing at the start of 2011 when I had eight weeks left on my visa. I literally was in the middle of filling out forms when they announced that I wasn’t on the list of VISAs. Suddenly from one day to the next, in eight weeks I had to pack up my life overseas and come back to Melbourne. It was one of the most extraordinary out of control experiences. I thought ‘wow my life is not in control.’ I actually remember the plane ride home- I opened my diary and released everything was blank from now on. I was going back to nothing. A blank canvas. Because of that situation in 2011, I found myself living at my mums house. And I found this old box from my childhood, containing my diaries.
TAT: Okay, so tell us about the show, why did you decide to make your diaries public?
AS: I had never read any of my diaries, and I thought ‘why would I keep a diary if I never read it?’ The start of 2015 I actually sat down and read them cover to cover. I had the idea very quickly from the moment I started reading to turn it into a show. My first thought was- this is comedy gold, and my second thought was ‘this a show’. I realised it was actually extraordinary that I had my life completely documented.
TAT: Were you nervous to expose your diary to the audience?
AS: I really used this as an exercise to challenge myself, but I haven’t put in anything that I’m not okay with.
TAT: Is the tone comedic, dark or a combination of both?
AS: It sets the tone as being quite comedic, the first half of the show is written by a child but spoken by an adult. It certainly takes a turn though.
TAT: What is your creative process? Do you work a Director?
AS: No way was I going to do this without a director- one of my biggest concerns was to keep my ego in check. Because you’re doing a show quoting yourself the entire time, it has to be universal and relatable. My biggest paranoia was coming across as a middle-class arts wanker quoting herself! The show is directed by Danielle Cresp- she was a big influence on the show.
TAT: When do you feel the most creative to work?
AS: I go through cycles, sometimes it’s with me days on end, then days when I’m not at all. Often it’s inspired by other art. It comes in blocks.
TAT: Do you work full-time as an actor?
AS: I have lots of jobs. They are all creative jobs- I work at the Melbourne Zoo as a Presenter.
TAT: How has your training influenced your work?
AS: Hugely. Through workshops I learn more and more what my style and my technique is. I had formal training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. After that I trained solidly The Actors Temple in the Meisner technique- the technique I’m most trained it. I’m a workshop and training junkie. For a period of time I was training with Howard Fine, I train with an improvised group called ‘The Big Hoo-Haa’ every week.
TAT: Lastly, what can the audience expect from your show?
AS: An existential joy ride. They can definitely expect that. Something very uncensored. There’s no real façade or clever character devise, it’s very raw. There’s something nostalgic about the show. Relatable, particularly for people who grew up in the 90s.
Andi’s show #DearDiary is on at The Butterfly Club in June.
When: Wednesday 1st to Sunday 5th June
Where: The Butterfly Club- Carson Place, off Little Collins St, Melbourne
Information: Butterfly Club members get $1 off all drinks, regular offers off discounted (or free) tickets, access to members-only events and a pretty card that fits right in your wallet.