Amy Hack is one talented performer. She’s an actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, writer and general theatre-maker who, in her ‘spare time’, studies psychology. It’s exhausting just reading her bio. But, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve really been playing characters, dressing up, dancing on the Shabbat dinner table since I can remember, so it was never really a question whether I would keep doing it,” she told The AJN. “I was actually quite shy at school, but putting on a costume and assuming a character gave me this superpower confidence, and I became addicted to making people laugh and expressing stories to audiences.”
Hack has wonderful memories of performing while at Melbourne’s Mount Scopus College, calling her “dream role” of Achashverosh in the Purim plays “a career high I may never surpass”.
Since then, she has been involved in several Jewish-themed performances, including Shabbat Dinner, A is for Apple and La Luna.
“Upon leaving drama school, I didn’t really foresee being able to integrate my Jewishness with the roles I was playing. There weren’t many Jewish roles, plus I was often cast as people from various other cultural backgrounds on account of my ‘ethnic ambiguity’,” she explained. “Working with other Jewish creatives more recently has felt very meaningful, I’ve loved being able to bring my lived experience as a Jewish woman to both people who don’t quite understand what comprises a Jewish identity, and to people in the community who love seeing their stories on stage.”
Her upcoming role in Girl Band, Hack said, is a little close to home.
“I have to confess, this isn’t my first foray into girl band-dom. I was in a girl band with my best friend when we finished high school. It mainly consisted of recording average Madonna and Bananarama covers, and being fed false promises about us being the ones to ‘fill the gap’ in the music industry,” she quipped.
The production shares the story of several performers who have been moulded, twisted and worked to become the girl band to end all girl bands. But then, unofficial leader DeeDee quits, and things begin to unravel. Laced with the nostalgia of 1990s pop culture and music, Girl Band is a fly-on-the-wall-style production. For Hack, the audience should feel like they are getting a ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight into what goes on, which isn’t usually seen by those outside of the production.
“Girl Band really lifts the veil on the ugliness behind all [that is] polished [and] pretty of a ’90s pop group, and the characters are so well-written,” she said. “The play really conveys a sense of what it might have been like to be one of the ‘lucky’ few to take up space on our So Fresh CDs.”
For Hack, acting in a production is a bit like a puzzle that must be solved collectively, alongside her castmates, before opening night.
“Every person in the rehearsal room brings their own experience as a breathing, thinking human into whatever they think this piece should be, or their character will be, and with generosity and rigour and silliness we all end up cultivating something magical, something that has never existed before,” she explained, saying then they perform it to a totally different group of people each time. “It’s really all a big thrill.”
Girl Band is at Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta from May 18-27. For tickets, visit riversideparramatta.com.au