Husband + wife graduate team and passionate young theatre-makers are shaking up the Sydney scene. Meet the Two Peas... Tara Clark and Oleg Pupovac.
They met in first year drama class at AFTT (formerly known as ACTT). It was love at first sight for Oleg, but Tara wasn't so sure. "When one of our classmates told me in Movement class that Oleg was planning on asking me out, I told her that he didn't have "a snowflake's chance in hell" of me going anywhere with him" she laughs. "I knew that once I latched on, she couldn't get rid of me" says Oleg.
Seven years later, now married and creating original plays and producing under the banner Two Peas (two Pupovacs, geddit) Tara and Oleg are making the Sydney independent scene take notice. The Old 505 Theatre selected the Peas’ We’re Bastards (by Oleg Pupovac)to launch their 2014 season and Jennifer Forever (by Tara Clark) will premiere at The Tap Gallery later this year.
We’re Bastards is an AFTT ‘hall of fame’ – not only starring Pupovac and Clark (both 2008 graduates of the Advanced Diploma of Arts in Stage and Screen Acting) - AFTT’s Certificate IV in Theatre and Screen Performance Coordinator Glen Hamilton (actor, director, theatre-maker and AFTT grad himself) directs, and 2013 Advanced Diploma of Stage Management grad Cara Woods on sound and lighting ops as well as SMs.
Playing now at the Old 505 Theatre (until 23rd February), a space that has a reputation for housing the best independent theatre has to offer, We’re Bastards has won rave reviews, with one reviewer naming Two Peas as an example of excellent calibre of work the independent Sydney theatre scene has to offer. “Since big guns Belvoir and Sydney Theatre Co have both gotten off to rocky starts this year, theatre-goers are lucky to have such productions as We’re Bastards as an alternative to the mediocre (or just plain bad) offerings from elsewhere. “ –The Buzz from Sydney.
Clark and Pupovac say the training they received at AFTT honed the necessary writing and producing skills to create their own works: “[In class] We were always creating from scratch - whether it was for a movement, acting or voice exercise - we were constantly creating and devising pieces of theatre. Which is exactly what we are doing today – using all the different skills sets we gained from AFTT to create new work”. Passionate about making a lasting contribution to theatre and creating opportunities to work as actors doing the work they want to do (and the work they want to see), the Peas say the best bit about producing their own work is the ownership. “When it’s finished, something exists that never existed before”.
But – they warn: It is hard work. Producing your own work independently means tight budgets “so you have to wear many hats. When the other actors go home to learn lines, you have to write PR, send out invites, balance the budget, source set and prop materials – AND learn lines” says Pupovac. Plus, working with your spouse comes with its own set of challenges - namely “not being able to leave personal stuff at the rehearsal room door, and not being able to leave rehearsal stuff at the front door”.
Benefits working with your spouse? “You can have production meetings while doing the dishes” Clark laughs.
But, they jest. Both gifted writers as well as actors, Clark and Pupovac “inevitably” share their drafts when creating “We value each other’s opinions so much” they say. “Although lines get blurry, we do try and define each others’ roles as early as possible. It helps to designate the final say in different areas of the process. Otherwise we’d never make decisions” Clark says.
Their efforts starting to pay off – the success of We’re Bastards has audiences and industry in eager anticipation of Clark’s Jennifer Forever (Clark will also direct) premiere at The TAP Gallery later this year. “We can’t wait to share it with everyone”.
The AFTT Experience Q&A:
Favourite class at AFTT?
Tara: Feldenkrais [Movement technique] with tutor Chris Ryan changed the way I looked at going from sitting to standing forever.
Oleg: Movement, never knew what you were going to get... or who you would be standing on top of.
Favourite memory of your time at AFTT?
Tara: Working with director Maeliossa Stafford on The House of Bernarda Alba.
Oleg: Performing in Jez Butterworth’s Mojo in 3rd Year.
Favourite drama school exercise?
Tara: Falling on each other in movement class. And I was really good at Bang Bang [focus acting exercise].
Oleg: I wasn’t good at any but I did enjoy a ‘Go Crazy’ [Eric Morris acting exercise] or ‘picking apples’ in Voice class. And the ‘frog song’ of course [a Voice exercise].
Biggest challenge since graduating?
Tara: Finding the time to do it all!
Oleg: Finding ways to sustain myself financially as an artist. And staying on top of my voice exercises, I really need to make more time for them!
Best work experience since graduating?
Tara: Producing and performing in We’re Bastards at the Old 505 Theatre.
Oleg: Has to be performing in the first play I wrote.
Advice to prospective acting students?
Two Peas: Think of yourself as an artist first, that way you allow yourself to create and be open to everything that is given to you in class. And the more open you are, the more you can incorporate into your performances and work. Also, don’t be late - it’s a terrible look. Would you be late to a 5am film shoot? You wouldn’t. So don’t be late here. You have 20 classmates and an industry professional tutor waiting for you, don’t let them down.
Find out more about our acting courses.
Return to Our Alumni stories.