NOT only has Giuseppe Rotondella’s acting talent landed him his second role at Black Swan State Theatre Company within a year of graduating from WAAPA, but it has provided him the opportunity to play a character based on another ‘talented’ individual – author Patricia Highsmith’s Mr Tom Ripley – in Switzerland.
“The production picks up towards the end of Patricia Highsmith’s life and is set in Switzerland in 1995,” Rotondella said.
“The story is about a gentleman by the name of Edward Ridgeway coming to coerce Patricia Highsmith into writing a final Ripley novel.
“He believes he can persuade her into writing and she has a bit of a track history of terrorising the publishers who have come to visit her out in Switzerland.
“There’s notoriety about her that Edward has to brace before he enters the dragon den. It is a psychological thriller and you’ll certainly be leaving the theatre asking questions about what happened.”
Rotondella,who made his BSSTC debut as soldier Charlie in Lighthouse Girl, said Highsmith had been responsible for some of the most important pieces of literature from the 20th century.
He was unfamiliar with the celebrated author and her stories before auditioning last year, but has since rectified that after landing the role.
“The conversation we’re having in society about women’s suffrage, and how it’s found its way into popular culture with films like Wonder Woman, is really important and Patricia Highsmith was a pioneer of that,” he said.
“She was hell-bent on making herself something in a man’s world. There’s this really great line in the play that Edward says, ‘You grew up in New York City in a time where women had to work five times as hard to get half as far’.”
The list of influential women on this production continues with writer Joanna Murray-Smith, director Lawrie Cullen-Tait and actor Jenny Davis.
“I’d seen Jenny perform in Tartuffe – The Hypocrite last year and thought she was really good but I didn’t know how many cultural contributions she’d made to the WA community before the start of this show,” Rotondella said
“She’s a star in her own right and it’s great to work with that level of experience.
“She’s quite a technical actress and takes her time when delivering lines. I think it’s a trait and style of our generation that we speak through a lot of the stuff we say, rattling it off and thinking that’s what creates the tension. But Jenny relishes the language when she says her lines; she draws you into the performance rather than pushing you away.”
Switzerland will be broadcast live on Friday, September 1 at 7.30pm from the State Theatre Centre of WA to regional WA audiences and free of charge to metro locations All Saints College, Curtin University and Sutton Community Centre in Victoria Park. More at www.bsstc.com.au/community/live-broadcast.
Where: Heath Ledger Theatre
When: August 19 to September 3