Sylvester Sessions #98
Actress & Artist
Ana wears Stripey tee & Chambray trousers.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
I am getting my restricted licence if it’s the last thing I do !!!
In my tarot reading for 2019 my cousin drew The Hermit for me as the card of my disposition for this year. This feels great. I am looking forward to summoning the power of my Capricorn Ascendant and working quietly and steadfastly towards becoming better at the craft of performance, and story telling across multiple platforms. I have a few personal goals I’d really love to achieve across the year. And I am looking forward to the Winter to come, for the purpose of letting these goals come into being: They have to be worked on slowly and tenaciously. I like to whiz things up quickly, so the slow solo path is very much the spirit of the 2019 I am looking into at this stage in the game, and I am there for it!….am always open to radical plot twists though, so we shall see what happens.
Tell us about your process developing the characters you play, what helps you find the intricacies of their personality? Does clothing play a part in that?
The process of delving into each character I play varies depending on the project: The tone, style and form of script I am working on.
For example, in The Contours of Heaven, which is a solo show I co-devised with my friend, Director Puti Lancaster, Marama Beamish and which Owen McCarthy designed, I am lucky enough to perform the real words of actual people who we spoke to, in The Hawkes Bay. In that instance, listening to their voices, to their interviews on my iPod is of paramount importance. I mimic their voices as accurately as possible first, as a launching pad, or way into a more performative style of presenting their stories to audiences. I spend a lot of time dancing before any performance. I highly recommend dropping some dank trap beats or hip hop to jive into any nerve-wracking endeavour with zest!
In relation to clothes and vibing out a character, Clothes are massively important to me. Being able to ask: How does this human hold their body in the clothes they wear? What does that point to about their being? And then working with incredible costume designers like Jane from The Breaker Upperers, building Sepa through costume was a really intrinsic part of that process: we got so into it together. At one point Jane was like, “I think Sepa needs a chain.” I was there for it. The rest of the prod team, not so much…
With Contours, we have done three seasons of this show now, and it’s bee a work in progress tweaking the costume each season. For our most recent season, I wore a bright red Kowtow two-piece. That outfit stays folded on my desk. I like respecting this outfit as my “Conouts Garb.” The ritual of putting it on helps me to access something I don’t think I could otherwise, it might be that particular hue of hot Marina Abramovich red. When I wear that Tumatauenga red, I feel bolder, warm, like I have the energy it requires to hold voices in my body, and my mouth. To be able to draw them from my solar plexus, project them out, for them to land and arrive in the audience, with as much aroha as possible.
When I am gearing up to work on a more traditional script, or for a film, in preparation, I generally I just go full Thespian Nerd and read the text as many times as possible. I try to research the social, political and religious implications around the text. Or, I look at visual art, and oftentimes watch clips of music or actual people on youtube that I feel capture my understanding of the tone or feel of the script. Understanding the why’s of something’s creation can be pretty important to me. I like pontificating about the origins of things, and why someone has written what they have, so I try and follow my hunches around building a character to respond to my understanding of what that thing is, as a bottom line.
You are a woman of many talents! What are you working on at the moment, personally and professionally?
Personally, I am working on drinking a bit less coffee because I feel as though I lean on coffee a little too heavily right now, to prop me up on a slight synthetic energy plane, and I kid you not at one point recently I swear it changed the smell of my sweat….coffee can do that, aye? Lol.
I’m painting, making music and writing passages of text for a multi-faceted project, I feel very much in the early phase of called WAIPOROPORO, which means purple in Te Reo Maori. This body of work talks to what it is to occupy a third cultural space between being a Tuhoe Jewish Buddhist Kotiro, in NZ at this point in time. A third space from the P.O.V that I feel like being between is often cited as a bad place to be, but I don't think it is at all. Be gone binaries! I chose this name because I feel as though purple is an ambiguous colour, whereas red has potent connotations, and so does blue. I love that purple is the intermediate state between these two opposing colour forces.
I am going to re-print the first edition of a zine I made called GULFS for Wellington zinefest last year, Which I illustrate and ask for contributions from mates, about being between two different cultural rivers; i.e between countries, religions, times.
For the second edition of GULFS, the theme is heART Works. I am really obsessed with the organic machinery of the human heart and how it works, as well as the spiritual or more metaphoric position that HEART holds in our consciousness. Having heart, as it were. Making great artworks: heART works, is the exploration, the theme for GULFS two.
Next month I am playing a set at the Newtown Festival which I am excited and also deeply nervy about. The last gig I played, I was so nervous I stopped mid-set, laughing because I kept cracking high’s like a going-badly American Idol audition. Everyone in the audience was really sweet about it, and at one point my friend Alexa held the mic for me so that I could record my guitar into my loop pedal - so it was still sweet despite bad cracks. Will NOT crack any high’s at Newtown fest tho….
Later on in the year, I am working on a TV Show and feature film later down the line so I’m gently orienting to a full 2019...Come through Hermit Tarot, Come through!
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I am listening to James Blake’s new album Assume Form, It is such a great body of sonic beauty works! love that James Blake has shifted tone sightly and is a bit more up-buzz, though I will forever be there for his forlorn break-up ballads.
I am listening to and watching all of Rosalia’s content on youtube. I love her so much. Her integration of flamenco and hip hop in one source of artistry: her! Is inspiring and distinct and beautiful to me.
I am reading my tarot cards on the daily, cause I love my tarot deck and I find they help me to ameliorate worry about choices I need to make and other headspace based internal qualms.
You recently moved from Wellington to Tāmakimakaurau, which I imagine offers a slightly faster pace, what are the biggest changes for you?
I romanticise Auckland a lot, I think. As a place it represents freedom, possibility, designing a phase of young adulthood oriented towards realising potential now and later in life. I don't think I'll live in Auckland forever, but right now it means a lot to me, and I always feel really happy to be there -I am in Wellington as I write this, right now. The Tempo suits me because I am very ambitious and Auckland holds you accountable to arrive with ideas to meet its pace: I never feel like coming back up to Auckland empty-handed, ideas wise.
I love its bigness, how as a city it sprawls outward. I always imagine the fulcrum of Auckland to be Rangitoto, a landform that I have always and will always love very much. I love how unassuming Rangitoto is, how low lying, but how visible that Maunga is from so many different parts of the city. I feel like Rangitoto calls the Sky Tower out in that way : On the one hand, you have this enormous cultural thing protruding up from the city, and then there’s this really low lying baby volcano just chilling, perfectly symmetrical in the middle of the harbour to be seen from so many different parts of the city.
Your trip to Israel and Palestine last year sounds like it was an opportunity to let your instincts listen to and guide your experience, what were some standout moments during your time there?
I love the languages in Israel: Hebrew, Arabic, Russian. The fullness of that place in terms of the noise, the density of the population. The food.
I just got back from Tane Atua, on the edge of Te Urewera and was talking with a whanaunga about the difference between Maori and Hebrew. He said, “Maori comes from the bush, Hebrew comes from the desert.”
I thought that this was beautiful. The Negev is really one of the most remarkable and most alien places I have been to and probably will ever go. Like, walking through the desert I thought, “Shivers man, the Earth is really old.”
Tel Aviv is also wild and incredible and fun and naughty and rowdacious.
I am going back to Israel at the end of March because my cousins live there, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them, and my little baby cousins and giving them some big Kissy NZ Hugs and trying to teach them a bit of Maori.
Any learnings from 2018 you're carrying through to the new year?
Give things the time to arrive “On Time,” I.E Let things run their course by imposing your own agenda or frequency on them.
Ana, do not underestimate the power of grassroots
I am and will always be an analogue girl
Interview & photography by Greta van der Star.
Check out Ana here.