Melbourne Blogback: The Covid Chronicles


By Lucy Schmidt

This week’s gang member is our fair and benevolent leader – Artistic Director, Rachael Dubois. Rach (and Alex) were the first Playback faces I ever saw. I remember thinking, these two look extremely fit, young and healthy – I may not be able to keep up with them! My first ever Playback gig was also with Rach. I was quite nervous and felt very lucky to be in such talented and experienced hands.

She reminds me a bit of New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern (incidentally, Rach and I are both Kiwis). She is incredibly dedicated, listens attentively, has enough confidence to defer to experts, does not get in a flap easily and seems to naturally lead in a democratic, inclusive way – all the while raising a very cute and super funny daughter.

True story – Rach is so dedicated to Playback, she was in an audition workshop when her waters broke with Zoe!

In contrast to her sure and dependable leadership, Rach can be wickedly mischievous and is great fun to be on stage with. Her improvisational skills are off the hook. She is one of the best scene shapers in the company and her character work is enchanting. In my four-ish years, I have seen Rach play the gamut, but in particular a romance obsessed Frenchman and a regal queen of nature were so well drawn, I recall them wearing costume (impossible as we dress in blacks for shows).

Under Rachael’s tutelage as A.D, MPTC has grown in many ways; notably, we are encouraged to push our own boundaries and feel free to explore without constraint. Thanks Rach!

1 – Was there a defining moment that spurred your interest in performing?

Probably the school play I was part of in 5th form (Year 11). We wrote a play about a flock of sheep who discovered they were controlled by the farmer and destined for slaughter. My character ‘Romney’ decided to escape, not knowing what life would be like on the other side of the fence. I think the experience of imagining life from the perspective of a sheep did it for me! It was so strange and liberating. I also enjoyed being part of the story making process, finding a way to free this trapped character I was playing.

2 – How does improv help you in your day to day life?

When I play with my kid, it’s ‘yes, let’s’ all day. I see how far we can take games, and try to keep opening up options for her of what play can be. When I’m at work, I ‘yes and’ to enhance collaboration and momentum with my team. With my partner, I listen, listen, listen (sometimes!).

3 – What was your most memorable moment on stage?

I have had two experiences of performing where something magical happened and I felt so free and invincible. Both times it felt almost like I was flying, like actually flying. I can’t explain it, but it’s an experience I’ve only ever had while performing.

4 – What is the surprising upside of the pandemic for you?

Probably like lots of us, eating better, sleeping more and taking that adrenalized rush out of day-to-day life. My 3-year-old is living her best life, she loves having so much family time.

5 – In your opinion, what makes a good story?

Purpose. Truth. Vulnerability. Transformation. Comedy.

6 – What do you miss the most about not performing during the COVID19 restrictions?

Creating with others spontaneously, with our bodies and voices. Being expressive with my body.

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