Lexi graduated from London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama from their Bachelor of Acting program with first class honours. Her career highlight was performing at the Globe as ‘Lady Anne’ in Richard III for the 2013 Wanamaker Festival. Lexi also performed in Appetite with Miriam Margoyles, Tamsin Greig, Jemma Redgrave and Jason Isaacs. Her Shakespeare credits include ‘Julia’ in Two Gentlemen of Verona, ‘Imogen’ in Cymbeline, ‘Titania’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and ‘Kent’ in King Lear. In London Lexi also performed as ‘Clytemnestra’ in the Orestia, ‘Florina’ in Mad Forest, ‘Imogen’ in The Lightening Play, ‘Darlene’ in Balm in Gilead and in her own show about Marilyn Monroe, a version of which returned to Canberra last year.
Her Australian performances include ‘Marianne’ in Constellations, ‘Beatrice’ in Much Ado About Nothing, 'Raina' in Arms and the Man, ‘Miss Cannon’ in series 5 of Rake and as Dame Enid Lyons in the re-enactment of her maiden speech, 75 years after entering Parliament. Lexi will next appear as Sara, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, in season 2 of the Foxtel/Netflix series Secret City.
I first met the Bard (properly) during a programme called Globe Australia which was run by a deeply passionate Canadian theatre director called Dianna Denley. She worked with Sydney University to provide professional performance training to high school kids. I was fortunate enough to be selected twice in my final years of school and played Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona and then Imogen in Cymbeline. It was during the cast photo of Two Gents that I told myself I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
After drama school, the next greatest career highlight for me was the Sam Wanamaker Festival at the Globe, London where I played Lady Anne. So I feel like Shake has been at my beginning, at my height and I would like it to stay around for my future.
Shakespeare is one of the most epic expressions of humanity. We understand the power of music and freely introduce that into our everyday lives to amplify a moment. Shakespeare’s organised sound grabs the power of words and amplifies expression for the audience. It is life, with the volume turned up.
ON SHAKESPEARE BY THE LAKES
400 years ago Shakespeare was for Royalty and for every other Londoner. We have theatre access issues in Australia and this free season aims to combat that. I think this model will help audience development for the whole industry.
I also think we have a poor relationship to language in Australia. We don’t talk about Banjo Paterson around the kitchen table like the English may do with Chaucer or Shakespeare. Why is this? Well, I also work as a voice coach for those in the corporate world and wonder if the limitations of the Australian accent (voices squeezed and small at the back of throats) might have something to do with it. If we can bring complex language to Canberrans, no charge, no risk in attending (and we are doing it in the National Capital) then maybe we can get the company’s interest in language to spread.
ON YOUR CHARACTER: VIOLA / CESARIO
When I do Shakespeare, there is always a point in the rehearsal process when the character and I start talking to each other and it usually goes something like this - Character says ‘you are about then steps behind me right now’ Lexi says ‘you are so much smarter than me - I’ll never catch up!’. Shakespeare’s characters think faster, sharper, deeper, wider than us. And of course the expression of thought and moment is immense.
I knew she was a big part but each week, once I thought I had surmounted it, something else would pop up. That is why Shakespeare is so much fun!
The hardest thing narratively and motivationally about Viola is that her changing into Cesario is just a nifty plot device and we don’t really know why she does it. We get many other soliloquies exploring her love for Orsino, the predicament with Olivia and that she dressed like her brother. She says she needs some time and this cover will provide her with that. We have explored the craziness of Illyria and placed Feste in that first scene so he can warn her not to just turn up at either Olivia or Orsino’s house. Lloyd and I play with that each time we do the scene - I hope the audience buy it! Boffins tell us that when Feste (a sea captain in original text) confirms that Orsino is still a bachelor and that Olivia is not yet married, that means there is no place for ladies in waiting at either house, ie there is no position in Illyria for Viola right now.
Another change we made is that Cesario is not a eunuch in our play. In the text that is what she says she will be but we have limited reference points for that so I was tasked with finding a male character to base Cesario on. I copy some of Joel’s body language but I also looked to aussie men known for wooing and landed on the Honeybadger from a series of the Bachelor. However, this is just a disguise and there are many moments when Viola’s essential self comes out and I feel it is important for that voice to drop. When she is verse and declaring her love, I don’t think anyone could keep their real voice from coming out.
For Duncan and I rehearsals have been a dream because this year we got a director!!! Chris and I share a verse-deep approach and I have thoroughly enjoyed mining the text and my own resources for clarity, clarity, clarity.
ON TWELFTH NIGHT
Love has the worst timing ever. Euripides writes in Iphigenia at Aulis that ‘Love has but two quivers in his bow - the one bring bliss, the other casts a net of confusion and chaotic pain’.
In our edit of the play, love is said 96 times and I have found it is only the times when I mention the love for my brother that the mentions are happy, healthy, and maybe even true.
From my perspective the idea of truth, identity and desire are all intertwined in the play and one’s essential self wins in the end. Shakespeare does this a lot and Chris mentioned it to me on our first rehearsal together - your essential truth will creep out in the writing. It’s a beautiful thing. It allows for dark truth to come out as well - Malvolio’s greed, Toby’s bullying - but also Olivia’s true desire to love and be loved.
Interestingly, once Viola gets Orsino, she doesn’t say another word in the play...
ON THE DIRECTOR
Chris is deeply connected to Australia’s Shakespeare playing tradition. He is connected to the nation’s greatest Shakespeare companies - Bell and Sport for Jove - and assisted in creating the Australian voice for Shakespeare playing. We are so fortunate to have him.
He and I met in London when I was living there. We had lunch and connected immediately over our ideas and goals for theatre. He returned the following year and we met up and continued our mutual musings. When I returned to Australia, Chris was really great at reaching out and reconnecting.
Tim and Duncan jokingly termed Chris’ approach ‘Stollspeare’. Chris always mines the text for what it meant to the audience then and asks can we bring that to us now? He knows so well how much the text can stretch, knows just how much to push it before you must return to the form. During our Lanyon premiere Q&A one audience member asked Chris how he managed to bring the work and references so close to Canberra, that night, those exact moments, without making it silly or overbearing or overly irreverent. He taught us to bring the meaning of the language to the audience and bring the observations in exactly the same way. What happens one night, very likely may never happen again.