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Interview: Daniel MacKenzie
A props maker and actor
Daniel MacKenzie is a Singapore-born emerging actor in the Sydney theatre scene. A props maker in his day jobs, he has spent the last three years working in various props departments on numerous films and theatre productions. This year sees the beginnings of his venture into the acting scene in Sydney. Boom will be his second play this year.
What do you enjoy about playing Jeremiah in Boom?
Jeremiah is a great example of a character that is pushed into a responsibility in which he is in way over his head, yet is forced to account for due to the inherent nature of his authority position from his job. He exists as morally and duty driven, yet is unhiding in his anxiety, uncomfortability, and even anger. This range of complexity in his emotions makes him a character that encourages a range of subtle to loud displays and reactions across his scenes, and I feel I can really try many different forms of expressions that make him very stimulating for me to play.
What has the process been like bringing the character of Jeremiah to life in Slanted Theatre’s production of Boom?
Its been a steady amount of work, since this is the biggest role I've probably ever had in a show before. Tiffany, my director, has been really great in understanding that while I have had some previous acting experience, I am not a formally trained actor, and she's been feeding me different techniques and methods to better approach understanding how to perform the character. Certainly trying techniques I have not used before is a trial-and-error experience to know what works for me personally, but it's an exciting process to work out for sure!
If you could play another character in Boom, who would it be?
This may be a bit funny but I think I would like to play Jeremiah's patronising, self-confident boss, the Director. I'm a fan of the way in which Mel portrays the role, and I would like to try putting my own twist on it!
After studying props at NIDA, what drew you to acting?
I used to do acting back in my schooling years in Singapore, and I have always kept the acting bug in a little jar with me. Props was a great way for me to learn to make with many different materials and techniques, which is something I like as a person who enjoys making things. But after three years of being a props maker, I realised the part of my personality that was at home with performing was feeling unfulfilled, and I finally decided to try auditioning for shows in the indie theatre scene when I realised it had been ten years since I had last acted in a show.
What is your favourite thing about acting and performing?
From a collaborative point of view, it would be the way which I can creatively engage with other performing artists and practitioners to interpret and realise a performance. From a more self-fulfilling point of view, it's the way I feel the energy of an audience that's giving its attention to a performance. In both cases, I really find the energy of people around me to be very stimulating, especially in a creative space.
What have you been reading/watching and loving lately?
Currently reading Ned Kelly: A Short Life by Ian Jones, as well as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.
What would you like to see more of in Sydney theatre?
I would like to see more experimentation with temporary theatre structures. While I was at NIDA I managed to catch a showing of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Pop Up Globe, which was when they set up a cardboard replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre at Moore Park, and it was a novel experience for me. I really want to see more innovative use of public spaces for theatrical performance.
Daniel will be performing as Jeremiah in Slanted Theatre’s production of Boom at KXT on Broadway in Sydney from 6 to 21 October 2023.