On the Couch with Ben Pfeiffer

Ben Pfeiffer oncWho is Ben Pfeiffer?
Tough question. I’m still figuring that out myself! I’m just a guy who’s blindly pursuing his passion; acting and creating theatre, and trying to make a buck in the process. I remember when Oprah Winfrey said to me (via the TV screen – though, I’m pretty sure she was speaking just to me) “Do what you love and the money will follow suit.” The first part is fine; it’s just the finance that seems to be lagging. If you find $50 on the side of the road, it’s probably mine.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I know it’s cliché, but there is no other path for me. No secondary interest that would have taken front seat in a “but, what if?” scenario. Every skill I have somehow fuels or feeds into my craft. I’m sorry I don’t have a more interesting answer. All other things just feel like work, and I don’t like that.

Who inspires you and why?
My main sources of inspiration are actually my five nephews, and niece. Kids never stifle themselves creatively; they’re never judgmental of others or their own work, they are fully present and absolutely surrender to the task at hand. They have amazing instincts and just don’t question them. Kids can list confidently the things they’re good at. It’s only when adults start hanging out together that uncertainty comes into play. I hope to be a child for the rest of my life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I feel like I’m competing to be Miss Universe! I guess I’d like to think I’m contributing to change in the world through the work that I create. It may be naïve, but I still cling to the idea that theatre has the capacity to hold the mirror up to an audience, and ask them to reflect on their own lives and choices. If I could wish for one thing it would be for equality; gender, racial, cultural, religious, sexual, and economic – then the world would be a sweeter place. Seeing anyone be persecuted really upsets me.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
There are so many places that I’m yet to go to, but I guess Thailand is where I’ve been the most to unwind. There are places closer to home that I love too; Tasmania and New Zealand for example. We’re so lucky here, really. It’s not until you head overseas that that your perspective gets a shake-up, and you suddenly realise: “Wow, I’m a really blessed, fortunate soul.”

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I absolutely love Melbourne. I’m originally from Sydney and Wollongong and I could confidently say I’d take guests anywhere and feel assured that they’d be catered for – even have their expectations exceeded! I mean, every suburb has it’s own vibe and unique offering. It’s such a soulful city; smart, honest and resourceful. We have amazing food and shopping, and the independent theatre scene is world class!

What are you currently reading?
My star sign, by Jonathan Cainer (Scorpio). It’s brief and a little vague, but I really want to know what the future holds. In all honesty, I can’t find the space in my mind to read anything when I’m working on a play. It’s like I have to eat, sleep and breathe the project and not be swayed by external influences. In the same vein I find it hard to watch other pieces of theatre when I’m creating my own.

What are you currently listening to?
A lot of Klezmer music. Our current project, Requiem For Dalinka focuses around a Jewish Klezmer quartet. If you don’t know the genre, get YouTubing, because you’re missing out! I’m also currently immersed in Hebrew and Yiddish folk songs. They are so very beautiful.

Happiness is?
A choice. It’s taken me a long time to come around to that way of thinking. The older I get the happier I become. The angst and complexity of my teens and twenties is slowly fading away. It’s really nice. I even have some grey hairs sprouting, and I kind of like them.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m not sure you can ask any actor this question with the anticipation of a solid answer. Everything has to be mercurial. We’re all prepared to drop and run for the right job. You’re forced to be totally present; both creatively and professionally. Sometimes future planning feels like giving up hope. In the general sense, I hope the future holds lots of amazing creative adventures. I am heading to KL and Indonesia next year to shoot a feature film. That’ll be awesome. I’m open to all possibilities.

Ben Pfeiffer is an acting graduate from the VCA Drama School, company 2007. His performance history includes: The Cherry Orchard, Our Countrys’ Good, The Forest, Twelfth Night, Cloud Nine, The Perjured City, The Venetian Twins and Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

More recent credits include Pale Blue Dot at the CUB Malthouse for Optic Nerve, Oswald in MTC’s Ghosts as well as his Green Room nominated portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Manbeth. Film and TV credits include City Homicide, Universal Studios Paradise Lost, and the 2014 record-breaking feature The Journey. 2015 will see Ben return to Malaysia and Indonesia to shoot the feature film, The Spiral.

Ben launched The Artisan Collective in 2009 and they have accrued seven productions in that short time as well as the respect of peers and critics alike. Directorial credits include Jim Cartwright’s Two, the critically acclaimed Australian premiere of Self Torture and Strenuous Exercise, Breathe a little and call it life, Pains of Youth, If It Bleeds and the stage adaptation of John Fowles’ novel, The Collector.

Ben is the director of Requiem For Dalinka at the Gasworks Theatre: 12 – 22 November. For more information, visit: www.theartisancollective.com for details.

Image: Ben Pfeiffer