TARYN Ryan felt so emotionally drained during rehearsals of her new musical that she turned to puppy therapy – of sorts – for help.
To calm down most evenings, she watched her brother’s pet pups frolicking via Skype and home movies.
In quintessential true-blue musical Once We Lived Here, Ryan plays Amy, the eldest daughter of a farming family unable to give up the sheep station and deal with her father’s suicide.
“It’s so sad to watch this girl not let go,” the North Perth WAAPA graduate said.
“I’ve had a couple of rehearsals where I’ve said: ‘I can’t emote today, I’m sorry. It’s too tiring, it’s exhausting.’
“It’s especially emotionally draining when you’re trying to find who she is and how she deals with things – you have to explore the very extremes of character.”
Ryan has never played a role like Amy – her previous heroines include flamboyant Paulette and little Sally from WAAPA’S Legally Blonde and Urinetown – however the two share some common ground.
“I grew up in a rural area in Queensland. I didn’t grow up on a farm but my parents were vets and worked a lot with dairy cattle,” Ryan said.
“It can be so disheartening when the only thing determining whether you can feed your family is whether or not it rains or you have enough supply of milk.
“So there are parts of this story that resonate first-hand with me. I understand that struggle.”
Despite the heavy issues at play in the production – winner of the 2009 Green Room Award for Best New Musical – the show is pegged a comedy.
“It has pathos: it’s not a slapstick comedy but it does have that Aussie larrikin humour,” Ryan said.
The Queenslander stage performer came to Perth after several years in Sydney to study musical theatre at WAPPA.
“Sydney can be really rewarding but pretty tough in the process,” she said.
“I’m really inspired by the independent sector here in WA; there is a lot of support for the artists, a lot of opportunity to get new work up off the ground and I’ve been really lucky to work on a lot of new shows and script developments, which I could do elsewhere, but the volume of what I’ve been able to work on here has been really great.”
Ryan is contemplating a move to London to further her on-stage aspirations.
What: Once We Lived Here
When: 17 October – 4 November
Where: The Blue Room Theatre, Perth