February News: Meet Nicole McKenzie

Originally from Geelong, last year now-Melburnian Nicole McKenzie wrote, developed, produced and performed her one‑woman show, Being a Good Person Is Bloody Hard Work at Melbourne Fringe, to almost-sold-out crowds.

Now she is reprising the show as part of Melbourne’s Sustainable Living Festival. We caught up with her to get her expert advice on how to be a good person.

Who was involved in developing the show?
I really want to just scream ‘MEEE!’ However I believe that no one woman show is created alone. I wrote and directed the show by myself however there were definitely some sneaky helping hands along the way. My best friend was my first audience member and therefore my first point of feedback, she helped me cut the not so interesting bits and reassured me throughout the entire process.

An extremely talented acting coach, Isabella Dunwill, looked over my show and helped me fix a few things up before opening night. And of course, since it’s an autobiographical show, it wouldn’t be right to say I developed it without the people in my life, so thank you to the guy that wouldn’t stop texting, the passionate vegans, and the ‘politically correct’ Facebook users.

What did you learn doing it for the first time that was a surprise?
I created a comedy show! I’m sure my audience members knew this before walking into the theatre but I wasn’t convinced until I heard their reaction. Also the things they laughed at were quite surprising! There was one line in the play that myself, Isabella, and my best friend thought was funny and clever, however no one else laughed! My best friend would giggle each night in the awkward silence, but since she won’t be at every performance this time I’ve decided to cut it.

What do you hope people get out of your show?
While I want the show itself to be a distraction from the exhausting daily task of being ‘good’, I hope people leave thinking about changes they might make. Some of the issues covered are things that many people tend to turn a blind eye to — where our clothing comes from and where our banks invest money — I hope that after laughing at my struggles with these issues that audience members spend some time considering how their actions can make a difference.

Do you have another show in the works yet?
I’ve definitely got an idea in the back of my mind but nothing is set in stone just yet. I’m trying to tell myself I’ll take a break from the craziness of producing shows after this; however, I also declared I was having a break from acting altogether just before creating this one, so …

What’s the hardest thing for you when trying to be a good person?
There are so many! I find affording fair trade clothing as an artist ridiculously challenging but I’m definitely getting better at finding new options and walking past stores who don’t treat their production workers fairly. Also, I’m really bad at lying, which sounds like a great thing, but when I’m not interested in what someone is saying or don’t agree with someone’s opinion I show it all over my face. I think the friendly, ‘good person’ thing to do in this situation is to act interested, but unfortunately I just don’t have it in me.

Being a Good Person Is Bloody Hard Work is showing:
8pm on 16, 17 and 23 February 2017
Hares and Hyenas, 63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy [map]
Tickets are $17/23
Book: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=255058