Australian theatre classic ‘Blackrock’ is given a new life by this year’s QUT Final Year Acting Students, including Bianca Saul.
‘Blackrock’ is the story of a group of surfers who hold a party for their returning friend, Ricko. The following morning, the body of a young girl is found. As more about the murder is revealed, loyalties are questioned. Written by Nick Enright, the play explores the toxic culture brewed in Australian men. Cast member and acting student Bianca Saul says it’s an intense and confronting work, but most shocking is its continued relevance.
“It’s the craziest thought that this was written over 20 years ago and it’s still as relevant as ever, if not more. It still gives me shivers to think about how important it is that we still are telling this story and opening a conversation up.”
QUT’s acting students are performing ‘Blackrock’ as part of their professional development in their final year of the course. It is being performed in La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre under the direction of Todd MacDonald and will be the students’ first major theatre production. “This one is my first go at working in a professional setting,” Bianca says. “We get a lot of great experience in the course and this is definitely the most intense in terms of being in a professional setting on a much higher standard of work. There’s no one there to hold your hand.”
Bianca’s own journey into acting has been long. She began speech and drama, auditioning for as many school plays as she could. One of her proudest memories was working with her friends in year seven to create and perform a science-fiction musical, raising money for the RSPCA.
Upon graduating, Bianca auditioned for QUT’s acting course, but didn’t get in. Instead she studied veterinary science through the University of Queensland. As much as she loved animals, she found it wasn’t for her. But her high school drama teacher told her to audition for an amateur theatre company, something which reignited her passion for acting.
“Everyone in the vet course was amazing and kind and lovely, but just halfway through the year when I was back in a theatre setting and getting to know other artists, it’s just an entirely different breed of people. Everyone in that room was just so open and feisty and unafraid to be transparent with who you actually are. The nature of what we’re actually doing was extremely exciting and motivating. I felt a sigh of relief I finally found my people.”
In ‘Blackrock’, Bianca plays Tiffany, the mistreated girlfriend of the popular Ricko. “Her story is a sad one,” Bianca explains. “She is treated unfair and poorly by Ricko. I think she’s in the play because her relationship with Ricko really highlights the whole aspect of defence and tolerance of the issue, and the underlying compliance that is subconsciously nurtured in these girls as they grow up in this hyper-masculine culture.”
After years of study, Bianca is excited to be involved in what will surely be a remarkable performance. “This isn’t just a student show. This is students having the amazing opportunity to be part of a professional production done by a professional theatre company. We’re all taking it very seriously. It’s been a huge challenge, but it has been awesome. But nothing good comes easy, so they say.”