- Maggie

Q: When did you decide you were an actor?

Caroline: I think it was when I was about 9. My very first part was the role of “Yefim”, an old man in a Russian play called The Fire Maid, a musical. I was in third grade and I had a wonderful teacher who put on a play just for her class. I was extremely disappointed because I didn’t get the role of the actual Fire Maid. I couldn’t sing high enough so I got the role of Yefim, the grandfather, but I did get a solo and I distinctly remember singing alone on stage, with the attention of the audience directed completely on me. Quite intoxicating.

CAROLINE & PETER McTIGHE in rehearsal for 'Hobson's Choice'.

Q: Where did the acting aspirations go from there?

Caroline: Well from there I was in every musical and play that came along. In high school I did a couple of plays, then when I came to Melbourne we had House Drama, which was a fantastic opportunity, I got very involved in that, did plays in 5th and 6th form. Then in 6th form as a result of all the career counseling that was offered, I wrote to NIDA and VCA and said, can I audition, and they both wrote back, (and I still have the letters!) saying you’re too young, you need to go to university or do some other job then reapply. So I got a bit serious about that and went to Medical School.

Q: Now you’re a doctor.

Caroline: Now I’m a doctor. Yep.

Q: How does being a doctor and being an actor work for you?

Caroline: Currently, very well actually! During my uni years I did about one play per year, which was the maximum I could do and still pass. Then I took a year off and during that year I worked three jobs, did six plays and stage managed another then traveled for a couple of months. People always wanted to talk about the traveling, and yeah it was great but I wish I’d stayed in Melbourne and just done more plays! That was what really thrilled me.

So currently I’m working part time as a doctor and it works well to pay the bills – it is a great job, satisfying, and I really do enjoy it, but I’d drop it in an instant if I could work full time as an actor! Any opportunities that come along I just jump on, although I have to be a little more circumspect now with what I choose because of the kids, I do things now that really interest me, that really tickle my fancy, rather than just doing anything to get myself on stage.

And of course there is television, which is not so time consuming as doing a play. I have a semi-regular role on Neighbours (as a doctor, actually) and reasonably regularly a guest role will come up on another TV series. Over the years I have had guest roles on most of the ongoing series – Stingers, Blue Heelers and so on.

Q: What training did you do to acquire acting skills?

Caroline: That’s a question that really bothered me for quite some time, but I think I’m quite reconciled to it now. I never got back to NIDA or VCA, once I finished studying at uni I was at a time in my life where I was sick of studying and most of my friends were out earning money and I wanted to do that. Since then it has never quite seemed the right time. So since then I have had a lot of regrets about not studying full time to be an actor and I would still thoroughly recommend that to anyone who was considering acting as a career. But along the way I have done lots of classes and courses and I have received some really excellent training and I think that the variety of courses that I have done has actually given me more skills than just going to one school. And perhaps my attitude to learning is to learn from everything I do, rather than having come out of acting school with one set way of approaching a role.

Q: How do you go about getting work as an actor?

CAROLINE in rehearsal with IAN SMITH ('Harold from Neighbours'), IAN ROONEY (centre) & director Richard Sarell (right)

Caroline: Great question! To get work you have to look all over the place. To start out, there is absolutely nothing wrong with university drama and community theatre. It gives you experience and sometimes informs you about whether it is something you do actually want to do. I’ve done both, and both were excellent experiences. After that, training is essential. You need to do classes.

The Rehearsal Room is a fantastic place to start as they have a range from beginners to masterclasses and equip you with skills or methods to build on. I still go back to Richard when I need some audition coaching or want to practice my skills. Also with classes you do meet other people and make contacts, think up projects to do together and create your own work. Which is a huge learning curve.

Q: So you have done projects yourself?

Caroline: Yes, I wrote a play a few years ago from my own experience as a doctor doing some sexual health work with prostitutes. I heard so many stories that I felt could not be left untold, so I merged some of the characters I had met and wrote a monologue for myself, teamed it with two other monologues, asked Richard to direct it and we went from there. It was a fantastic experience in producing it myself and learning a bit more about the production side of this business. The empowerment comes from knowing that you can create your own work and that its successful and its fun, you learn heaps and you entertain people and you get that rush from being on stage and all as a result of your own hard work.


Q: So why does Hobsons Choice interest you?

Caroline: I love period dramas – I think that was actually part of what made me love acting to start with – we used to watch period dramas on the ABC when I was young and I just fell in love with the costumes! Very much a girl thing…
So I love the period that Hobson’s Choice is set in, and I love my role. It’s actually a very feminist role, about a woman taking control of her life and making decisions and acting on them. Her destiny is in her hands and she sees this very clearly. Despite all the societal pressures and the family pressures to stay where she is serving her father and serving her family, she takes some pretty strong, drastic action towards her own future. She’s a remarkable character for her time.

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