On the Couch with Blake Erickson

Blake Erickson oncWho is Blake Erickson?
I’m a writer, actor, singer, music theatre trivia repository, political animal, Mark Rothko fanatic, Orson Welles zealot, and traveller. I’m currently playing all the things in all the Sondheim musicals as part of the cast of Sondheim on Sondheim.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Definitely something in or around public service or government. I love current affairs, I’m a total news junkie, and politics was always the second of my great loves (the other being theatre). I worked for a lobby group and a political party before working in the arts, and I absolutely loved it.

Who inspires you and why?
Selflessness is an inspiration. From simple acts of kindness, to creating art for the benefit of the broader world, to far more serious examples like journalists risking their lives to bring us stories from far flung places. There’s a nobility to selflessness, and it’s the reason why the arts exist in the first place – it’s not about you, it’s about them.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’ve found that there’s often a remarkable amount we have in common with our ‘enemy’ or opposition. Sitting down simply to understand why someone has the opinions they do is so important yet almost never happens. This is where the arts are so effective. Whether it be in the form of a novel, a film, a play, a musical, or even a song – the arts help us brush up against things that are completely foreign or perhaps unpleasant. In order to do that, we have to fund the arts effectively and do so as a priority. It can’t be the first thing to go when a budget has to be tightened. So I’m basically asking for money.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Monaco in particular and the French & Italian Rivieras more generally are very special to me but not for the reasons you’d think. I don’t have an interest in ostentatious displays of wealth, nor am I a gambler, but the history of the area is absolutely fascinating. Hiking to the top of the mountain that looms over the world’s second smallest country, you’ll come across a huge Roman trophy several stories high. The old town of Monaco has been almost perfectly preserved since the renaissance, it’s like being in ‘King’s Landing’ from Game of Thrones.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
As a northern beaches boy I love showing people around Sydney’s northern peninsula. Twenty minutes from the city you feel a million miles away. There are secret beaches, incredible food, wine, and coffee, and it’s pretty nice to look at. A leisurely stroll along cliff-side tracks north of Manly without the crowds of the city beaches is always a must.

What are you currently reading?
Up The Down Stair Case by Bel Kaufman, an astonishingly honest and fascinating novel about an English teacher at an inner-city high school in the US in the 1960’s. The story is told through ‘found’ memos, letters, notes, and even lesson plans.

What are you currently listening to?
Speak the first track from Ben Abraham’s upcoming debut album. Google him, he’s one of the best we’ve got.

Happiness is?
A chilled can of Diet Coke and gainful employment.

What does the future hold for you?
I can’t wait to find out. In the near future I do know I’m appearing in Sondheim on Sondheim, produced by Squabbalogic (Carrie, The Drowsy Chaperone). The cast have been having a ball navigating the subtle nuances and brassy 8-part harmonies of Stephen Sondheim’s work. I’ve never done a Sondheim musical before, and now I get to do all of them at the same time!

Blake Erickson has quickly emerged as one of Australia’s most versatile and hard working performers. Best known for his long-running collaboration with Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre ([title of show], A New Brain, Forbidden Broadway), Blake won Best Actor at the inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival Awards for his performance in the title role of the one-man show Pearls Before Swine: An Evening With Orson Welles (Neil Gooding Productions.), which toured nationally.

Other credits include: Hollywood Ending (Griffin Independent), Floyd Collins, Thrill Me (Squabbalogic), Spring Awakening, Just So, Blood Brothers, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. He has also appeared in four Neglected Musicals productions: My Favourite Year, Nick & Nora, On The 20th Century, and She Loves Me.

He was a finalist at the Sydney Cabaret Showcase and has worked extensively in concert and in musical theatre, most recently appearing in the new Australian/US musical Atomic. In 2014 Blake appeared in the sell-out season of his new cabaret Hold Me Closer Logies Dancer (Neil Gooding Prod.) at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Co.

Blake is appearing in Squabbalogic’s production of Sondheim on Sondheim at the Seymour Centre running 1 – 18 October. For more information, visit: www.squabbalogic.com.au for details.

Image: Blake Erickson – photo by Kurt Sneddon