Interview: One on one with the cast of ATYP’s M.Rock

ATYP stages the return of the smash-hit M.Rock after eight years off the stage. Star Milena Barraclough Nesic talks with Theatre Thoughts about the return of this unique piece of theatre, the latest addition to the Sydney Theatre District and what audiences will love about M.Rock.

Based on the true story of Mamy Rock, Tracey is 18 and a little impulsive. She’s meant to start a nursing degree in March, but right now she just wants to dance all night. So, she heads off on a European holiday (remember those?), clutching the lucky rabbit’s foot her grandmother gave her.

Mabel is your typical grandmother. She plays piano for The Players and knits for the Africa appeal. But when Tracey skips her flight home and doesn’t get in touch, Mabel leaves her stable life to go find her. So what if she’s never been further than Canberra? She ends up in Berlin, and before long she’s over her jetlag, clubbing until sunrise with people who seize life with both hands. As the nights go on, Tracey and Mabel keep missing each other, but they’re finding themselves.

Directed by ATYP Artistic Director Fraser Corfield and written by Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott, Valerie Bader (NToP’s Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, STC’s Children of the Sun, TV’s All Saints) makes a return as Mabel after burning the house down in the original 2014 sell-out production with Sydney Theatre Company. The show also features Venus Guy Trap, a live DJ bringing the energy of a Berlin dancefloor right into the theatre.

Milena Barraclough Nesic is an emerging actor and writer who is making her professional debut in M.Rock. Theatre credits include Queensland Theatre: Youth Ensemble production of BLANK; QUT Acting: That Face; Vena Cava and QPAC: Ruby Moon. Screen credits include Netflix online campaign 13 Reasons Why You Matter; Short films: PRIMA and The Witches. As a writer, she has won the Queensland Theatre’s Young Playwrights Award (2020) and Best Creative Vision in Bell Shakespeare’s Shorts Festival (2020).


M.Rock was first performed in 2014, what do you think its appeal is now that it’s come back to ATYP?

M.Rock tells a story that doesn’t go out of date. In fact, one could argue this play is even more fitting now. These past few years have afforded us all a deeper appreciation for travel and the ability to be with the people we love. The already whimsical portrayal of international travel, as shown through the wide eyes of Tracy and Mabel, feels even more remarkable after years of lockdowns. This play does a glorious job of showcasing tumultuous but ultimately loving family dynamics and is a love letter to grandmas and grandkids, Berlin, DJs, the sound of music, and self-growth. There will always be space for a play that brings people together, and M.Rock does just that. 

Can you tell us a bit about your character?

Tracy Mudge is a wide eyed teenager in that gloriously thrilling place between school and uni, where she is void of responsibility and has the world at her finger tips (thanks to the flybuys point her grandma gave her haha). She loves a good night out on the town and almost as much as she loves the sound of music and her grandma. Tracy has a big heart but she is still finding her footing as a young girl stepping into adulthood and thus she gets a little carried away at times. Which is probably the aspect of her character that I relate most to – this notion of still discovering who you are. Self-discovery isn’t something that ceases with age and experience, but it certainly feels very prevalent to those their late teens/early twenties.

What makes M.Rock a unique story?

It’s a coming of age story unlike any I’ve seen. It follows two women, one young, and one young at heart, as they travel and dance through Berlin’s iconic club scene. The play twists and turns until it lands you in a place that is unrecognisable from where it started. The world of the play is, at times, very fantastical and quirky, though the characters who inhabit it are familiar and real. I can see myself, my mother, and my grandmother in this play as I’m sure most audiences will to. 

ATYP’s new Rebel Theatre is getting rave reviews, how do you think M.Rock will fit into the new space? Will it add anything to the production?

I adore the newest addition to Sydney’s theatre district. The nature of the seating bank and slightly thrust stage creates an effortlessly intimate viewing experience. Some technical elements of the show also expand into the audience, immersing them. Not to mention the incredible music from our resident DJ – Venus Guy Trap – who plays as patrons enter and leave the theatre. There is no doubt in my mind that audiences will travel on this journey with Tracy and Mabel. Oh, also, nothing beats the views from the Foyer!

What are you most excited about for this particular production?

Oh, Gosh, a lot of things. We had a ball in the rehearsal room bringing this show to life. We get on like a house on fire and that really reads on stage. I think the show will be a “right ol’ laugh”. I’m eager to see how different audiences, old and young, respond to different elements of the show. I can imagine there will be moments where everyone is cackling, but also moments where certain generations identify more. That’s the beauty of this show – it’s a play for everyone.

What do you think audiences will take away from it?

M.Rock spectacularly shatters the notion of being “too old”. It celebrates growth and self-discovery even in the most unconventional and unlikely of circumstances. It will be an incredibly fun night out at the theatre – audiences will boogie as they exit along the pier.

Images Credit: Tracey Schramm

M.Rock plays at ATYP’s Rebel Theatre from 21st June to the 17th July. Tickets can be booked here.


M.ROCK
Dates: 21st June – 17th July
Times: Tuesday–Wednesday 6:30pm; Thursday– Friday 7:30pm; Saturday 2pm & 7:30pm; Sunday 5pm
Tickets: Adult $65 | Concession $50 | Under 26 $45 | Group 8+ $60 | Preview $45-$55
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes with no interval
Content warnings: Some strong language, mild adult themes, irresistibly sick beats

WRITER Lachlan Philpott
DIRECTOR Fraser Corfield
DESIGNER Melanie Liertz
LIGHTING DESIGNER Trent Suidgeest
STAGE MANAGER Sorie Bangura
WITH Valerie Bader, Milena Baraclough-Nesic, Bryn Chapman Parish, Masego Pitso, Darius Williams AND FEATURING Venus Guy Trap


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