The God Botherers - Waiting For God
Like many young people, Laura in Richard Bean’s play The God Botherers thinks she can save the world, so she heads off to poverty-stricken Tambia with the best of intentions… 3D’s Darryn King spoke to actress Kimesia Hartz about the last play in the Darlinghurst Theatre 2008 season.
Can you tell us about your time in New York… and Ice T-
I completed the three-year Graduate Acting program at NYU. It was an amazing and challenging three years and gave me an opportunity to work with some wonderful directors in New York. I just had the one scene with Ice T in Law and Order but he was really gracious and super laid back. It was one of my first TV jobs out of drama school and he really made sure I felt comfortable.
Tell us about your character of Laura in The God Botherers.
Laura is a 24-year-old, recent business school graduate who takes a job as a NGO worker in Tambia specifically to help women create and run their own businesses. She sets off on her journey with a very naive and optimistic view of how she can ‘do some good in the world’ and help those in need. Laura very quickly learns that this is not as easy as she first thought.
You spent some time in East Timor yourself, didn’t you-
I made a documentary about a 22-year-old girl who was almost five months pregnant and has a heart condition which meant she wouldn’t survive the pregnancy without heart surgery. She had no access to antibiotics and that, combined with really poor living conditions and malnutrition, led to severe scarring in her heart. It’s a common condition for young women in East Timor and many girls die in labour or the last weeks of pregnancy. Filming in a clinic there and seeing how hard the volunteers work was an amazing and humbling experience. I also got to see first hand some of the difficulties that arise from varying cultural beliefs and standards – an issue that comes up frequently in the play.
Can you relate to Laura’s sensation of being the only white woman in 300 miles-
In some respects I can relate to this because, as a young white woman, walking down the street in Timor, you do stand out. A lot of the kids were really funny too – they would start pointing and shouting “malais mutin” (“white foreigner”). Although, unlike Laura, I never felt unsafe, and didn’t need a 24-hour security guard.
So how can a play set in the third world be funny-
Satire is a great way to get people thinking and talking without making them feel like they’re being told how they should feel about things. The humour comes out of the characters and their interactions – not the conditions they are living in. It’s all about the misunderstandings that occur when two very different cultures come together with a common goal but different ideas on how to get there. Who’s to say what is the best way-
WHAT: The God Botherers
WHERE: Darlinghurst Theatre
WHEN: Until Saturday 6 December