Chit Chat: Jailoshini Naidoo

2011-05-13 14:50

Award-winning actress and TV personality Jailoshini Naidoo of Eastern Mosaic is currently starring in a production of God of Carnage in Durban. William Charlton-Perkins chats to her about the show.

Does playing in a domestic ­comedy mark a new professional departure for you?
It’s quite different to other roles I’ve played. It’s an ensemble piece which has a rhythm that has to work together. It’s pacy, and has a wonderful energy and wit. There are so many layers, it’s edgy and at times it’s hysterical. I’m enjoying it thoroughly, we find new things every day.

How do you find yourself relating to the script of Tony Award-winning writer Yasmina Reza?
It’s so easy to identify with the characters. You see yourself or someone you know in each of them. It’s really about people not being able to talk to or to hear one another.

It all starts with seeming civility, decency and respect, which eventually dissolves. Decorum disintegrates, egos get in the way and the real you appears. As coffee is replaced by rum, true feelings surface and it erupts into open “warfare”.

How does this situational comedy differ from your work in the stand-up genre?
It’s very different. Stand up often means improvising, reading a situation or your audience at that moment and reacting to or building on it.

The material is your own and it’s you making people laugh, and not a character that you play.

While this production has hilarious moments, it’s different. It’s specific to the role and the piece. Experience with comedy helps with timing and delivery.

You have become famous as a TV personality. Do you miss working more in theatre?
Theatre has always been my passion, my first love. Nothing beats that feeling of performing for an audience: the immediacy of it, the audiences’ reaction and, of course, the rapport you develop with them.

It’s actually quite an adrenaline rush and is pretty addictive. I really enjoy my television shoots as well, especially the travelling and all the people I meet.

Despite my hectic schedule, I always try to find time for theatre each year.

In previous shows you have appeared working in a large cast and also in one-handers. Do you prefer solo?

As a stand-up comedian or in a one-person production, the pressure is enormous and you carry it alone. Working as part of an ensemble also has its own challenges and joys.

There’s the comfort and security of working with others and being able to feed off each other. It’s enjoyable, and good chemistry between performers helps a great deal. It’s important to experience working in both scenarios.

What have been your most chal lenging roles on stage and why?
I loved working on my one-person shows 1949 and At the Edge. I have played approximately 30 to 36 characters in these productions – ranging from children, men, and women to drunks and gangsters.

They were delightful characters, all very special, and it was equally challenging and enjoyable playing these roles. I find playing characters totally different to myself most interesting.

Do you find yourself having to keep a grip on your emotions when performing?
I guess as an actor you let go to an extent and become the character. And this involves a great deal of understanding, discipline, focus and presence.

Who are some of the most memorable people you have met in your work in TV?
I’ve met and interviewed so many people on my TV shoots – from our presidents, ministers, and sport and television personalities to huge movie stars.

We’ve also done some shoots in children’s homes, shelters for the homeless and various underprivileged communities where people live under the most horrendous circumstances.

For me, these are the most moving and rewarding shoots. I often meet some of the most incredible people there. I learn so many valuable lessons from the simplest, most unassuming people.

What has your experience been on working with director Steven Stead?
He is truly a master of his craft and it’s such a learning, growing experience working with him. And it’s an absolute treat working with my fellow cast members. We have a great production going and audiences will love it.

» God of Carnage is on at Durban’s Seabrooke Theatre until May 29.
Book through Computicket 082 335 6088

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