#288 – Shane Adamczak
Shane Adamczak graduated from WAAPA in 2003 and has since gone on to become a stalwart of the West Australian Theatre and Improv scene; a Fringe Festival veteran of over 50 festivals worldwide and “One of Perth’s most successful independent theatre creators” (The Sunday Times) as a founding member and current Artistic Director of Independent Theatre Company Weeping Spoon Productions. He best known for his roles in FRANKIES, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, Vicious Circles, Trampoline and This Is Not A Love Song. His most recent work is a play about a man who lives in another man’s beard called The Ballad Of Frank Allen, which won the coveted JUST FOR LAUGHS award (Best Comedy) at The Montreal Fringe. He was also the face of STAN’s national “Hungry Eyes” campaign.
He is the host of the Good Morning Mrs. Strawberry podcast and recently launched his own independent toy company CUBE BOY COLLECTABLES.
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Shane Adamczak, Phil Rickaby
Phil Rickaby 00:01
Welcome to Episode 288 of Stageworthy the I’m your host, Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring conversations with actors, directors, playwrights and more. Thank you for listening. If you’ve been listening to Stageworthy for a while, or maybe you’re a first time listener and you’re listening through a link on the website, did you know that you can subscribe so that you never miss an episode? You can do that by searching for Stageworthy on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or pretty much wherever you get your podcasts and clicking on the handy subscribe button. That way every week, the new episode of Stageworthy will be delivered right to you. And if you subscribe, let me know that you’re a new subscriber. If you want to drop me a line, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram @philrickaby, and My website is philrickaby.com; and you can find Stageworthy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @stageworthypod, and the website where you can find the archive of all 288 episodes is at stageworthypodcast.com. If you want to support stage where they consider droppings and change in the virtual tip jar, you can find a link to that in the show notes. Your support helps me continue to bring you great conversations in Canadian theatre. My guest this week is Shane Adamczak. Shane is a theatre maker from Australia and the host of the podcast Good Morning Mrs. Strawberry. Shane is also a mainstay of the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit. One of the reasons I wanted to have Shane on the podcast is that as we in Canada are starting to open up I thought it might be helpful to hear from a place where things are largely open once again. And so here’s my conversation with Shane Adamczak. How is a Good morning Mr. Strawberry going anyway,
Shane Adamczak 02:06
It’s going pretty good. I took a little bit of a break with it just to just get a few in the tank before I started putting them out again. So I’ve got to so I want to record maybe another three and then I’ll start releasing them just so I’ve got a few in the bank. So I don’t have to make sure I’m doing them every week.
Phil Rickaby 02:22
That’s that’s how I keep myself sane, doing this show.
Shane Adamczak 02:27
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, so probably, if I get my ass into gear, I’m about to start rehearsing your shows I have a little bit more time to do some stuff on the weekend. So I’ll record a few more and then start putting them out.
Phil Rickaby 02:39
Rehearsing a show. That’s something interesting. That is one of the reasons I wanted, I wanted to have you on. I don’t know if you know this, things up here are not looking so awesome right now. We’re, we’ve been in quote unquote, a lockdown since December 26. And we don’t see any signs of that that lifting. And, you know, I think a lot of people, especially in the theatre world are getting a little bit discouraged by that. So one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you was that you’re in Australia. And largely, as I understand things are pretty much wide open there. Is that is that true?
Shane Adamczak 03:21
Yeah. Like, especially here in Western Australia. Like we’ve been extraordinarily lucky in that very early on in the pandemic, like we completely shut down our borders, we were really strict on lockdown and stuff. So like we were, we were kind of out of the thick of it quite quickly, like within, I think two months or something. So yeah, it’s been really strange has things here definitely sort of start to go back to normal. And even I think as of next week, like all venues are at 100% capacity allowed again, really, yeah. And then even that, and then having friends from Toronto messaged me the other day saying that they were jealous that I got to go out to shop for jeans. And you’re like you really you’re really sad to take things for granted when you’re like, oh, man, I’m sorry that I was rubbing that in your face that I could go out and buy new pants?
Phil Rickaby 04:08
No, but I mean, one of the things that it’s kind of good about this, the connected world is that, you know, we can see that. Shopping for pants is possible. Yeah, like we can get there. We’re there. We’re there. There. There should be a time in the future. When once again we will be able to schlep around a mall and purchase pants.
Shane Adamczak 04:29
Yeah, but it’s Yeah, it’s it’s been very strange, especially since I’ve been podcasting as well and doing a lot of these sort of over the internet calls with my friends in Canada. Just saying that the way that the stages of dealing with this pandemic have sort of walked away from each other as here got very quote unquote back to normal quite quickly, whereas things you guys are still where we were like a year ago almost which is like insane. And it’s it’s scary because I want to get back there at some point, you know?
Phil Rickaby 04:57
Yeah, absolutely. I think I mean, there’s a there’s a huge dip And, of course, a lot of this is hearsay, because of course, we’re on opposite sides of the world. But the actions that Australia took early on were really rigid and really serious.
Shane Adamczak 05:14
Phil Rickaby 05:15
And I understand that there was a little bit of there was some flak about how, quote unquote draconian the steps were.
Shane Adamczak 05:23
Yeah, there were some people that were really butting heads with it and up against it. Like, I feel like I was a little bit advantaged because I work in my day gig at a hospital. So I’m pretty, you know, aware of like, isolation protocols and hand hygiene and all that, like stuff that’s very real and very scientific. And but there was a lot of people that were just really, really against it, which is, you know, it’s understandable if you don’t understand, like, the very basic science of germs, I guess. But yeah, they were very, they were very strict. And a lot of people want them again, it’s but you know, what it works. It’s, it’s a process that work, people stayed inside as much as I could, only people that really needed to be at work, were working for those first, you know, a couple of weeks, a couple of months. And it and it paid off, we close our borders so that people couldn’t travel into state. Unless it was super necessary. And you know, that that really paid off. And now we’re at a point where we’re just living our lives again. And we’re we’re still, you know, obviously keeping out like, during February this year, there was one outbreak in Perth, there’s one case, and that literally shut down Perth for five days, which, again, it was extreme, but a lot of people went out and they all got tested, and there was no more cases. And then we went back to our lives again. And even those five days, as I’ll probably talk about a little bit later, you know, had a big impact, but it was effective. And it worked.
Phil Rickaby 06:48
Well, I mean, this is this is sort of the illustrates the the need for for serious steps. And and not, not half measures like, here. I feel like we’re like, well, everything is closed down, except for these things where people are really spreading it. Like we’re not closing down residential construction, we’re not shutting down factories and warehouses, which have been shown to have like, these be these huge spreader locations. Not millennials having parties as as some people have said, and so we’re not quite willing to take the steps that could actually save our butts here. And they’re just hoping that we can vaccinate our way out of it.
Shane Adamczak 07:31
Yeah, so yeah, well, yeah, we’re at the point as well, where the vaccines are starting to roll out here. Which is, you know, exciting, but still, like, painstakingly slow it feels. But yeah, it’s been so strange to see around the world, especially like in places like the states where it seems that in a lot of places, they kind of just went they just kind of got sick of it and went, yeah, we’re not doing this anymore. I guess it’s over. And you’re like,no, that’snot how it works. That’s gonna make it so much worse. And it is making it so much worse.
Phil Rickaby 07:59
Yeah, no, absolutely. We’re definitely seeing seeing that here. Now, I do want to talk a little bit about what was the process for opening theatres? Was it were there like 50% capacity and then growing from there? how did how did? What did the return of theatre look like? where you are?
Shane Adamczak 08:22
Yeah, it was, it was definitely a slow process. It’s something that took a little bit longer than a lot of us in the arts community wanted to do. The arts industry was like, really hurting. Because when we went when we went into lockdown, and and everything was shut down, and people were working from home that could, similar to what Canada had, we had like a thing called JobKeeper stat, which is basically, you know, the government was giving people money to either work from home, or to keep working from where they could work. But no arts workers were covered by that. So no arts workers who suddenly couldn’t work, weren’t getting any income from the government. And that was sort of like a real thing where we were like, Hello, please help us. And then obviously, the theatres weren’t closed, we’re closed, and we couldn’t to us. So there’s just nothing essentially you could do other than I don’t know, started start a YouTube channel or whatever. But then slowly, things started to happen. Of course, sports took precedent as you would expect here in Australia, God forbid, people not get their football, you know.
Phil Rickaby 09:23
It’s not just just in Australia, I think that. That’s that’s many places the sports will come back before the anything else.
Shane Adamczak 09:31
It was very frustrating to see like, you know, stadiums, you know, half full of people, you know, with 1000s and 1000s of people and then like, we still aren’t allowed to open our little 100 seater comedy venue. But slowly things started to reopen. And we I mean, we’re able to have fringe This year, we’re able to have Fringe World in January, February this year, which was very interesting, because obviously, it was a much pared back scaled back version of what is I think the third biggest fringe in the world. No international acts very few interstate acts, because at the time, even some borders were still closed. So only people were like from Adelaide could come but people from Queensland or Melbourne couldn’t be here. So it was a bit of a mixed bag was mostly locals, which personally I liked, it works. You know, it brought us back to the early days at that Festival, which has been around for, I think, 10, almost 10 years. And in the early days, it was a lot smaller, a lot more contained and are not, like big enough for the city without outgrowing it, which I think it has a little now. So this year was an interesting thing, where we actually had venues at I think, was 50% capacity at that point. So you know, we’ve got a comedy venue waiting to go back to 100% because it seats 50 people, so you know, only being able to have 20 people in there isn’t worth the money will make on the night. So no, you know, there are some venues that are still struggling and still like kind of waiting for Okay, we’re back at 100% we can we can make a go at this again. But they’ve also been closed for a year at this point. So it’s Yeah, it’s hard to get that momentum moving again. Sure. So a lot of people are still still struggling, but we’re getting there.
Phil Rickaby 11:11
Now has has there been Support for the Arts in Australia, like, as far as the government been offering support? I know, because one of the problems that we have here is, you know, in Toronto, we have all of these indie venues that are basically, they, they, they, they they don’t get grants to operate, they just use the money that people give them to rent the place to, to, to to fund their their operations. And so it’s like, Will those places still be here? When it’s all over? If we don’t get some infusion of help from various levels of government? Has there been that kind of has there been any support from the levels of government there?
Shane Adamczak 11:53
I mean, not really not really, from an indie point of view, like we we had an amazing comedy venue that had been running for 15 years. And we lost it due to the due to the pandemic, essentially. And we’ve sort of regrouped in it in a new space now and slowly building it up again. But yeah, there’s been lots of little indie venues that just, you know, because they’re living from show to show, you know, they need to have that income coming in to keep the space. So with no shows, there’s no income, there’s no space anymore. And some of those spaces just aren’t going to be there. When everything opens again, we’ve lost lots of really great, like local pubs and local businesses. And as it is everywhere, it’s a real, real shame to see it going. And the government just not really, really caring just as just a lot of like, well, you should have got a job in it. And I’m like, Yeah, well, you’re maybe not wrong. But still, it’s “help please”.
Phil Rickaby 12:42
Here its. Yeah, I mean, I think that sometimes a lot of governments will, will forget, and sort of conveniently ignore the fact that the arts bring business in
Shane Adamczak 12:57
Phil Rickaby 12:58
people, people spend money at the theatre, they spend money for dinner before the theatre, they’re like, there’s all these things that like theatres bring in, especially if you have like a festival, people come and they spend money, like, there’s more than just like, these elite artists, and we don’t have to worry about them, because who cares? Like they are part of the economy?
Shane Adamczak 13:18
Yeah, I mean, we’d run this, you know, little comedy room upstairs in a pub. And, you know, we may not have been, you know, sold out every single show, but we were bringing in, you know, 50 to 100 people a night into that pub who are buying, you know, two to three drinks each, and then coming back, you know, week after week, and then suddenly, you know, we’re not there anymore. And that affects, you know, obviously, our venue, and then suddenly the pubs, you know, down 500 sales a week as well, you know, so it has a big ripple effect. It really does.
Phil Rickaby 13:47
There is a there is a huge ripple effect. I think as soon as we’re not we’re not we’re not doing that. And you know, as much as you know, we’re – people are keep trying to do virtual theatre and zoom theatre, I feel a little exhausted by that.
Shane Adamczak 14:03
Yeah, it’s just, it’s just not the it’s just not the same as being in a room with people and having that immediacy of reaction and you know, laughs and tears and just being in a space with actual humans like I um, I embraced as best I could to the virtual virtuality of things as I could. And did. I did a bunch of stuff online in the first couple of weeks. But it just gets to a point where you’re like, I don’t want to be doing this forever. This is this is not what I signed up for, you know?
Phil Rickaby 14:31
Yeah. I also feel like we’re asking a lot of our potential audience who are spending more time than ever in virtual meetings?
Shane Adamczak 14:40
Phil Rickaby 14:40
And then we ask them to come to our entertainment and sit in another virtual meeting. And people are kind of over screens, I think.
Shane Adamczak 14:49
Yeah, and look, I’m the first to admit that if, you know i during Melbourne Fringe, which was, for the most part online this year, last year, rather, I’ll sit down Watch a couple of people’s shows on, you know, projected up on my wall or whatever. But it gets to a point where watching a pre recorded live theatre show with no audience reaction sounds, you know, if I could if I have the choice between that and watching and really nice, well produced thing on Netflix, you know, nine times out of 10, I’m going to watch the beautifully well produced well shot, you know, made for a screen movie. I mean, that’s, that’s just the truth of it is it just doesn’t translate as well.
Phil Rickaby 15:25
No, because we don’t I mean, we don’t have a technology that lends itself to an audience feel, I’ve seen a couple of options that might allow you to hear the rest of the audience, but you know, they’re missing this feature, or that feature that the, the main stage image is too small to be worth your while, all these little things. And I frankly, as much as I would like to say, well, maybe one day somebody will come up with something. I don’t want that because I don’t
Shane Adamczak 15:54
Phil Rickaby 15:56
I like I don’t think we’re going to replace the the in person interaction. And we go to see movies in the theatre, because we want to experience that with a large group of people. That’s, that’s one of the essential parts of theatre is that experience, and I don’t think any kind of video or virtual room is going to be able to change that.
Shane Adamczak 16:15
Yeah. And like coming at it from a performer as well. Like, there’s just something just so unsatisfying about it. Like, the reason that I mainly work in theatre rather than then to film is because I love the the liveliness, the fear, you know, of being in that room. And yeah, it’s happening then in there, and the immediacy of the reactions of the audience, and just it’s like recording something, you know,
Phil Rickaby 16:40
it’s just – No, it’s never going to be the same. There’s that there’s that that you know, having gone on the fringe circuit, and you know, you’re, you’ve travelled around Australia and Canada, in two fringe festivals, you know, that, like, you literally don’t know, as in different cities, like, is this city gonna like this? Are they gonna like this show? Last place liked it, but I don’t know what this place likes.
Shane Adamczak 17:02
You can have you can have the hit show of the summer. And then yeah, you know, you hit Saskatoon, and it’s just not their flavour. And you’re like, Alright, this is a bit of
Phil Rickaby 17:10
a humbling experience. And thank you. Every, every time every time you go to a new place here, you’re flipping a coin. Is this going to be? Is this going to be a rocky fringe? Or is this going to be a really great fringe?
Shane Adamczak 17:21
Yeah, I mean, the same thing. I’ve had shows, you know, that have been like doing doing fine, but not where I wanted them to be. And then you hit the last two cities of the tour, and then suddenly, you know, be say, like, oh, bases already, and you’re like, boom, alright, ended on a high. Yeah, it’s Yeah, it really is a flip of a coin. Yeah, and so worth it every time.
Phil Rickaby 17:39
Well, I mean, this is the thing is, is, we, if you, if you do a Fringe Festival tour, you’re kind of chasing that. You’re chasing that experience, you’re chasing that, that high from, you know, having a hit show or like having a show that people are really liking and they’re there’s so many ups and downs, even within the same friend or the same day, you know, there’s so many moments of like elation and complete devastation. It’s it really is so much more than just taking a show on the road. Like, there’s the camaraderie of the people that you meet from city to city,
Shane Adamczak 18:17
the different audiences, the different towns, experiencing new places, seeing so many other amazing shows, which inspire you. Like, it really is, like, you know, it’s like a travelling circus. It’s like summer camp for adults. It’s, it’s so much of like, what my life has become, and so suddenly not having it and potentially not having it for another year or two or three years. God knows. Like, it’s very frustrating because, yeah, this is this is the longest I’ve been in Western Australia for about 10 years. And it really, it’s bizarre, you know, because I haven’t even been like being able to travel into state yet. Like I am later this year, but that’s like the first time and I’m you know, I’m going to the Northern Territory for three days and then I’m coming back.
Phil Rickaby 19:00
That’s I mean, that I really feel like like hearing the the idea that like it might be another three years before we can travel like that and tour like that is is is a bit depressing. But it’s also I guess, you know, this is the process this is where we are where we have to accept the things are going to come back little by little.
Shane Adamczak 19:24
Yeah, because yeah, I’m absolutely like not not taking for granted how incredibly fortunate we’ve been here like, especially in Western Australia, but as you know, like as someone who primarily makes his you know, living as being a touring artist, it’s very frustrating that, you know, a lot of the borders are still closed and I can go to a few places in Australia, but that’s that’s kind of it at this point. You know, we only have so many fringe festivals. And plus I miss you guys
Phil Rickaby 19:51
You know, we, we miss you too. And, you know, one of the actually this is this is a sort of like a line of questioning that I’ve been really curious. About because, you know, thinking about about, you know, we get a few You know, there are people who travel internationally, there’s a few people who do like the fringe circuit and a couple that come from England and a couple, you know, you have a small contingency from Australia.
Shane Adamczak 20:13
Phil Rickaby 20:14
Well, how did you start in like the Australian fringe? And what made you first want to bring a show on the Canadian fringe circuit?
Shane Adamczak 20:23
I first got started with fringes. Why did I think my university when I was studying at Whopper, part of part of third year is that you do a show as part of the fringe, I think is what I was, I think that’s what I did my first one. So I’m just gonna adjust my microphone. It’s falling down. Yeah, so part of that I actually went as part of the cost of the year above me did a show in the Adelaide fringe back in 2002, I think it would have been, and that was sort of my first out of state experience. And that friends, you know, obviously, it’s the second biggest in the world to Edinburgh. And it blew my tiny little, you know, 20 year old mind. And it’s a very addictive thing to go on tour and be like, well, you can just go. And once you do your show, you can go watch a whole bunch of other shows. And then everybody goes and drinks a bunch of drinks and dance and you watch bands, and it’s just so much fun. And yeah, it was I just knew I love it from from then. And so after I graduated, my friend Thomas Ford, who’s also like a well travelled fringer, we did a two man show together. And then it kind of grew from there. My company weeping spoon in 2007, I think got a grant to take one of our shows to Canada. Because one of us had been living over there for a little bit doing the, you know, the working visa thing. And she was like, I wish to come to a couple of cities in the in the fringe circuit. So we did, we did Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, I think, from memory. And yeah, even those three cities, I was like, Oh, I’m doing this and then came back a couple years later, solo with Zack Adams thing, I think I did six cities that first time solo, which was like, huge for me. And it was just like, yeah, it’s it’s a drug. It’s a beautiful, beautiful drug.
Phil Rickaby 22:05
It is. And I mean, you had sort of like, you’ve come to Canada with that, that, you know, for the three city tour and you weren’t alone. But what what is it like coming to a completely other country alone and producing a show. And taking it across the country? What was it like the first time?
Shane Adamczak 22:26
It is it was nerve wracking and terrifying. Like, at that point, I’d toured solo a little bit throughout Australia, but nothing like at this scale, where I was, like, you know, going to a bunch of cities that I’d never been before, you know, flying everywhere, you know, just meeting random people along the way. But you become friends, you make friends, and you become fast friends, you know, on this tour, because, you know, you may be in one town, you start in Montreal, and those people within the you know, two and a half week span become very close, you’re like, Okay, these are my friends. And then some of them go on with each other next city, some of them you won’t see again, some of them you’ll see later down the track. And yeah, like I said, it becomes this, like this travelling circus, and people are giving each other lifts and helping each other out and taking each other’s shows. And it just becomes this big family. And I just felt like instantly, just so incredibly welcomed into that scene. And it’s, it was just such like a beautiful, beautiful thing to be part of. And then knowing that, you know, as new people and even like, over the years, I brought other Australians with me to do various shows, or I’ve encouraged them to come over and like, getting to be part of that family and welcoming new people into it. And sort of, you know, show them the ropes and be like, Oh, this is how the city works. This is how this city is different from this city. This is Jem Rolls, he’ll help you. You know, it’s just a it’s just a great thing. And it’s just become such, just such a big part of my life now. It’s like, and just keeping in touch with everyone overseas, like thank God for Facebook for all its faults, you know?
Phil Rickaby 23:53
Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s really, for me, that’s the that’s the one good thing about Facebook, you can argue with your uncle about whatever, but like, the fact that that I can talk to I can see what’s happening with my friends lives, but also, like, see how different places in the world are right now?
Shane Adamczak 24:12
Yeah, absolutely. It’s without it like I would, I would be much worse at keeping in contact with people. And you know, I’m so happy to have that if the price is that, you know, I have friends over and we’re talking about hamburgers, and the next day, my computer’s like, Hey, you should buy some hamburgers. I’m like, Okay. All right.
Phil Rickaby 24:31
That’s the that’s the price we play – pay.
Shane Adamczak 24:33
Phil Rickaby 24:35
Now, you did a year long residency at the mainline Theatre in Montreal?
Shane Adamczak 24:42
Phil Rickaby 24:42
Yes. When you came to Canada for your tour that year. Did you know that was coming or was that something they developed? While you were here?
Shane Adamczak 24:50
Um, that is a good question and going back a year so that that was when I when I moved over for two years. And so yeah, I think I That was sort of pre planned because I let them know that after the tour, I was going to come back to Montreal and you know, live there for a while. So, right, they wanted me and I, you know, I was like, obviously in contact, like, I mean, I’m gonna be here, I want to be doing things I want to be putting on shows. So they offered me this, this residency, which is great, because it helped me develop one of my one of my sort of biggest, biggest shows, and I got to do a run of all my solo shows, and they helped me develop a bunch of stuff. And we developed Captain spaceship, which is one of my improv shows that is still going to this day. And so it was Yeah, it was an amazing experience. And, and while I was there, like I did so many shows at mainline that plays from really became like, my, my second home when I was living in Montreal.
Phil Rickaby 25:40
Do you still think of it as like, as, as a second home? Like, I know, like, I don’t, I didn’t perform there. But you know, main line is so integrated with the fringe there that I still have these very warm feelings towards midnight theatre, even though I was only there for like two weeks.
Shane Adamczak 25:58
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it became such a big part of my life, like, oh, if I wasn’t performing something here I was, you know, they’re watching someone else’s show, or helping out with someone else’s show or taking someone else’s show. And I was just just hanging around like a bad smell. Using the internet during the day, if I needed it. Again, it’s just part of that that fringe family thing and sort of just became part of the furniture. So when I, when I go back to Montreal, it always feels familiar. And it always feels like home, no matter how long it’s been, like, to the point that there’s places I went, last time I was there was 2019 was my last tour. And I stayed there for an extra month because I was writing a play. And you know, I just wanted to be there to write what I was working on. And I would go to places I used to visit five years earlier and they would still know like, I’d walk in they go on the regular and I’m like, how do you remember me? What do you mean the regular like don’t live here anymore? And like just that that’s how amazing that place became to me like even places I wouldn’t go that often. You know, it was bizarre.
Phil Rickaby 27:00
Shane Adamczak 27:01
Phil Rickaby 27:03
Now, one of the things that I’m always curious about when I talk to people on on on this show is about their theatre origin story. So we talked about your fringe and what drew you to fringe so sort of your fringe origin story, but yeah, but why? Why theatre? What what is it that how did you first get into theatre? What drew you to theatre? What What made you want to create your own shows?
Shane Adamczak 27:26
All right, well, going, I mean, going way, way back to Yeah, we’re gonna go like Primary School era. I mean, I feel like I have a similar urgency to a lot of theatre kids, and that I was a very, very shy kid. And I just had that one sort of special teacher that recognised that and I found a way to get me to come out of my shell, and that was theatre. And it would have been, I want to say great for and Miss Wilson, had me audition for the lead role in the crazy reworked production of Cinderella through the television. You know, that classic tale where Cinderella though princess goes through the television into a parallel world and becomes a weird little boy. Yeah, you know, you know, that classic tale. Yeah. Yeah. And so I auditioned, and, you know, in grade four style, and I got the role and, and, you know, got laughs on stage for the first time as I Oh, oh, I liked that. So still, I mean, even to this day, I’m a pretty reserved sort of shy person that, you know, when I’m on the stage, that’s where I feel the most comfortable, which for a lot of people is, you know, a terrifying thought. But for me, it’s, it’s home and, you know, still to this day, like I do a lot of improv to keep that sort of like that fear, you know, on stage. So yeah, from primary school, just kind of got addicted to it did like a bunch of school plays. And then in high school, I was really lucky that the my high school had a really incredible drama programme and did really big, you know, productions every year, and I did like, West Side Story, and I was in Midsummer Night’s Dream. And we did, I think we did the first production of the musical big anywhere in Australia. Yeah, so you know, I don’t want to brag, but I played Tom Hanks’s characters dad, in that.
Phil Rickaby 29:07
Oh, Tom Hanks’s dad.
Shane Adamczak 29:09
No, no. Tom Hanks’s characters, dad. Pretty good. Yeah. And so that was fun. And then a year after that, I went straight into Performing Arts Academy in Western Australia, and then got the got the fringe bug. And then two really amazing things happened is very early on, I went to the Melbourne Fringe, and I saw my first ever solo show. And that experience blew my mind. I was like, you can do a show by yourself because I was doing a two man show at the time. And we were having a great time that you know, everyone knows that once you tour with someone for a bunch of time you live in each other’s pockets, you can get on each other’s nerves. And that particular day was the day we were kind of like, you know what, I’m gonna do my own thing today. You do your own thing, and we’ll meet up tomorrow for the show. And we watch this show. And as I say, you gotta just do a show by yourself. This is great. I’ll have no one to blame but myself and I’ll get to take all the credit. You know, and that that’s when I started touring solo. And you know, you do get a little bit lonely after a while and sort of came back to doing ensemble stuff after that. But um, yeah, it’s fun, fun, fun.
Phil Rickaby 30:11
So you, I mean, you, you, you experienced your first solo show, like, like seeing it at a fringe and not any other way.
Shane Adamczak 30:18
I saw that a fringe yeah. And the next thing that happened that really blew my mind is I saw another solo show, I think the year later. And it was still to this day, one of the best shows that I’ve ever seen, it was called around the world on 80 quid, I believe. And it was this Irish guy named Andreas just telling us this is partially true tale. And playing the fiddle, and it was like stripped back, you know, it was in a really crappy little venue. It’s like two lights, no microphone, and I was just like, this is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. And this guy has a budget of like, negative $50. And I was like, so you can do a show by yourself. And you can do a show with nothing, and it still be good. And like that’s what I’ve been striving for, like my entire career. Like, with, with some exceptions, I really do believe that a really good show should be able to you know, exist completely stripped back and be performed under florry lights at a pinch. Yeah,
Phil Rickaby 31:11
and obviously, it’s kind of amazing when you get to see something like that when you get to see something that’s that’s so simple. And yet so riveting.
Shane Adamczak 31:21
Yeah, and that sure, like, impacted me, like I still talk about To this day, obviously. And I like it was such as, like a simple format. It was just a really good storytelling show just a dude and a filler, a fiddle. And also say and, you know, I walked out of that, you know, emotional, I was like, Oh my God, what a story. And like, just, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a big budget show with all the bells and whistles, but just something as simple as that, that just can change your life just as much as you know, watching The Lion King or whatever, is such an important part of why I love theatre and why I still do it and why I sort of love sort of the the pot the punk, you know, ideologies of fringe theatre. Yeah.
Phil Rickaby 31:56
When when you’re creating a show, whether it’s for fringe or, or otherwise. Are you like, what’s your creation process? Do you sit down and write it? Or do you stand? Do you do you? Do you try to improvise scenes and write them down? How do you create a show, like for example, let’s say your first Zack Adams show.
Shane Adamczak 32:18
The the process has been a little bit different for all of them. To be honest, the first Zack Adams show was obviously like my first big show. So your brain is sort of like, filled with a million ideas so that I know when I find it hard to get to sleep until I write a bunch of stuff down, that the show is is going to be something good, hopefully. And that’s how that show came about is that I was like on tour, I was just so inspired by all these plays that I was getting to see. And seeing solid shows for the first time seeing all these little shoestring budget shows this going Holy crap, I just I love fringe and just being so inspired to create going I want to have something like this, I want to I liked what happened in this show. I liked what happened in this show, I want to sort of incorporate these things that I loved into what I’m making. And so I think the first show was very influenced by like, my ideals of being a theatre artist and being a solo theatre artist. And what I wanted to see on stage later down the track, like my play Trampoline, which was a three hand was kind of based on something that I had already written, it was based on a fake blog that I’d been writing just as sort of an experiment while I was living in Montreal. And I sort of fell in love with the character that I was writing from the perspective from and I was like this, this story could be a play, and I turned it into something a bit more cohesive and serious. Whereas my two men show The Ballad of Frank Allen that started as a as a short story series that I was writing for a website. And again, I was like this, this would make a really fun show. And that was like another translation from something else I had written. And the idea just came. Do you know the, the Kevin Smith, film Tusk?
Phil Rickaby 33:53
Shane Adamczak 33:55
Yeah. So he talked in the making of that, how it came about, because basically, he was like, he had this bizarre idea, which during his podcast for this movie about a guy that, you know, gets kidnapped and turned into a walrus. And he said, like, no one else is ever going to make that movie on this, I make that movie. And that’s how I feel about you know, some of the shows that I make like this is the thing I would love to see on stage is a play about a tiny man that gets shrunk and ends up living in another man’s beard for two years. I’m like, no one else is going to make that show. So I’m going to make that show because I want to see it, I want to see if it works. And so a lot of my ideas have come from things that I wish existed but didn’t yet.
Phil Rickaby 34:32
Now with a show, like The Ballad of Frank Allen, which is about a man who gets shrunk and lives in another man’s beard,
Shane Adamczak 34:38
Tale as old as time.
Phil Rickaby 34:40
with with is is is is that something when you’re coming up with that, or you’re like, this is never gonna work, or you’re like, I think this is insane enough, that its just going to work
Shane Adamczak 34:50
a little bit of both. Originally, I was just like, I’m just going to write this show. And we’re going to figure out how we’re going to do it later. Like, I’m just going to write it how it went. Write it forget about the limitations of theatre. Like, I’m just going to write the show as I dream it, and then we’ll figure it out later. And then from that, you know, process of obviously, like, this is a little bit too cinematic, this is to formatic. We’re not going to be to recreate this on stage two. This is a little bit too, you know, cinematic, but we’re going to figure out how to do it and translate it to stage and luckily St. John Cowcher who I, you know, developed the show with his incredibly like, talented performer in his own right, he writes a bunch of great stuff. And he’s a really good physical performer. And he is just so willing to trust me, and for me to trust him that we could just like, throw ideas out there and go, let’s just try this and see if it works. It might be stupid. And even if it is, we might keep it in. Yeah, so we just had a really good a really good working relationship and a really good trust that like, we’ll just try stuff, we’ll throw everything on the wall, we’ll see what sticks.
Phil Rickaby 35:51
There’s something about it, like trying not to think about staging while you’re writing. And just trusting that you can you can find a way to do it later on. When I was talking to Sex T-Rex years ago, they were like, yeah, we just write it, we write it cinematic. We don’t worry about how we’re going to do it until we’re trying to rehearse it. Yeah. And then we’ll figure out how do we do this car chase, and then we’ll figure out a way to do it. And something about like, I think sometimes as theatre artists, we can get a little bit too hung up on, oh, these are the rules, the quote unquote, rules of what you can do in a theatre. And that can be a little hampering, I think.
Shane Adamczak 36:29
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you can just really restrict yourself. But giving yourself those challenges to have to problem solve, it keeps it you know, it keeps it exciting. It keeps it interesting. And like when it works, like I mean, Sex T-Rex is such a perfect example of like this, the physicality of the stuff they bring on the stage. It’s just incredible. Like, I’ve been in all of them many times. Those guys, and some of the stuff that Peter and Chris have done as well, really, like influenced some of the work we did on Ballad of Frank Allen for sure, like in terms of the physical work, because I was like, Oh, I want to I want to see if I can do what 60 Rex does with two people.
Phil Rickaby 37:03
Yeah, I mean, years ago, one of the first Keystone theatre shows featured a, like a chase on top of a train. And we were just like, we’ll figure that out. And all we did was like, we had a light on the stage that represented the top of the train. And every so often, somebody would run by with a branch. Yeah. And it was so simple, and yet, it worked so well, that it just sort of told me that like, you don’t necessarily need a huge budget to do something spectacular. The simplest thing can be something that the audience will just get carried away with and just go with
Shane Adamczak 37:46
And so satisfying to see as an audience as well. Just going that’s how they did that. Oh, that is so simple yet so genius, and I love it.
Phil Rickaby 37:53
Yeah, absolutely. I remember seeing Sex T-Rex do some kind of like a chase with like a dogfight with with planes or spaceships, and they used hangars. And somehow, it was one of the most exciting things I’ve seen.
Shane Adamczak 38:15
Yeah, I just yeah, it’s just saying like other people’s, like the way that people’s minds work as well going, you know, I bet they’re just sitting in a room with a bunch of coat hangers. They’re like, what about this? Yeah,
Phil Rickaby 38:25
yeah, yeah, exactly. I’m just sort of curious about when you went off to refer you went off to performing art school? Was there? Was there ever a point in high school where somebody was like, this theatre thing? Maybe you should not pursue that or? Or was, was the school and your family and everybody else really supportive of it?
Shane Adamczak 38:49
No, I think I’ve been really lucky that my, my folks especially have always been very sort of supportive of my career, there was there was the day at the end of high school where I applied for performing arts school and also graphic design. And I just like I got into both but then it came to that day where I had to send one of the letters back you know, I had to make the choice. And I often think about that parallel universe Shane who’s possibly very successful wealthy graphic designer now, but is he is happiest me. Probably not. You know, I don’t know. I don’t know I sometimes thinking about him. But no,
Phil Rickaby 39:22
Now mind you,had you had you done graphic design before that, or were you just like this sounds like a cool thing.
Shane Adamczak 39:26
I did. I did a bunch of like, I’d studied Fine Arts and stuff when I was at high school. So that was kind of the path that went into and you know, inevitably being an independent producer you end up doing a lot of graphic design anyway. Yes. So you’re like you know I design all my my show publicity posters and all that kind of stuff anyway. So you know, in I got to kind of the best of both worlds just you know, not as well trained in one but yeah, my my family have always been super supportive. And whenever I’m in Australia, and you know, my my family always come out to see my show. So it’s always it’s always good for my cast, because there’s always at least one night that’s guaranteed to sell out because I’ve got a pretty big family. So that’s Yeah, yeah.
Phil Rickaby 40:10
Just as we started to a couple of things that I want to, I want to come back to the state of theatre in in Australia, West Australia right now. And you said that, are you? Are you at 100% of you’re about to go to 100 percent?
Shane Adamczak 40:23
I think as of this week, I think things are back to 100%. As far as I know,
Phil Rickaby 40:28
yeah. But of course, the fringe season is over there.
Shane Adamczak 40:32
The fringe season is over. Adelaide fringe has come and gone the Melbourne Comedy Festival just finished. So we’re kind of in the little bit of the media slump for festivals is down fringe coming up later in the year. Melbourne and Sydney have their fringes in like, like August, September, I think. So still a few smaller fringes to go. But all the big ones are pretty much done. Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne is sort of the three three biggies for the year.
Phil Rickaby 40:58
And so how does how does a fringe artist who’s who’s out of fringe festivals and get can’t tour? How do you keep yourself? How do you keep yourself busy in those those off those off weeks?
Shane Adamczak 41:12
Well, I’m very fortunate that I’ve got a gig with a professional company here coming out next week. For the next nine weeks, I’ll be on rehearsing and then doing a regional tour of a production of a little prince. So yeah, I’m very lucky that I have that gig. But I mean, other than that a lot like a lot of artists, I’ve you know, last year, I had a massive pivot in what I was doing, I started my own independent toy company. So like I’m a, I’m a huge, like, retro vintage Toy Collector. And I’ve always wanted to sort of make my own lines of weird little characters. And so I had the time last year, and I had the funds. So I, you know, I started that last year at a little company called cube boy collectibles, and that’s still going and people seem to really like it. And so that’s, that’s the thing that I’m going to I really want to keep going and in the second half of this year, when I don’t have as much theatre stuff going I’m gonna really focus on that and churning out a bunch of cool new weird little figurines and toys and, and we’d bootlegs and paintings and visual art things and yeah, so that’s that’s keeping my creative mind busy while I can’t, you know, leave leave the country.
Phil Rickaby 42:16
Yeah. What do you think is the first thing you will do when you can travel?
Shane Adamczak 42:23
Oh, probably go to mainline theatre and say hi to everybody. Yeah, I mean, like, within Australia is fine, but I don’t, I don’t really do that many of the Australian fringes any more. Just because it’s just, you know, the rewards just not as, as much as I would like it to be. Whereas I’ve come into Canada for you know, three months. It’s a lot of work and a lot of money to get there. But you know, potentially I’ll make quite a bit of that back. And they’ll get to see all you know, my Canadian fringe fan, which I only get to see once a year. So yeah, yeah, I would love to do another big Canadian tour. Like, who knows when that’s going to happen. But when it does happen, boy, is it going to be fun. Because I feel like everyone’s you know, going to be really like raring to go and really like jump back into that that lifestyle.
Phil Rickaby 43:11
I feel like the fringe circuit that you’re all this is going to be a pretty wild year of fringing.
Shane Adamczak 43:18
Yeah, and all I hope is there’s not 50,000 shows about COVID.
Phil Rickaby 43:23
Yeah, I don’t want to see any shows about COVID.
Shane Adamczak 43:25
Yeah, we don’t. We were there. We were just there. We were there.
Phil Rickaby 43:29
I don’t want to see another I don’t want to see a bunch of solo shows about this. I spent a year alone in my apartment. Yeah, we all did.
Shane Adamczak 43:35
Yeah we all did
Phil Rickaby 43:36
we lived that show. Yeah, we’re okay. Maybe Maybe it can be a nice history piece in 20 years, but like, No, No, we don’t. We don’t need those.
Shane Adamczak 43:45
I just want a bunch of musicals about zombies. A bunch of shows about the apocalypse or something. Just how there’s always you know, there’s always that weird theme that emerges ha during the tour. I love it. I don’t know why it happens. But it’s great.
Phil Rickaby 43:57
I just think there aren’t enough musicals about zombies.
Shane Adamczak 43:59
There should be more that should always be at least one in every city, please.
Phil Rickaby 44:03
Like, please, will somebody please create a write a musical? About like a zombie apocalypse musical? I just need it.
Shane Adamczak 44:12
Phil Rickaby 44:14
Yeah. Now, last thing that I want things that I’ve been asking everybody since this is the pandemic started is is about joy. What has been giving you joy through this time.
Shane Adamczak 44:28
One amazing thing that I’ve really taken away from this is that I’ve been able to spend so much more time with my family. My two nephews specifically like my youngest nephew oldest just turned one last week. So he was born. He was born during the very early stages of the pandemic. And because I work at a hospital during my day gig and I had to be super cautious about isolation. That’s how I didn’t actually get to meet him till he was like three weeks old, which was really hard for me because I really love I really love my nephews and I really, really wanted to meet him. So yeah, I ended up writing a song about the experience of you know, not getting to meet him and him being born into this weird situation. So yeah, spending time with my family has been been really good. And just seeing catching up with my friends that I probably should spend more time with here in Western Australia anyway. So that’s sort of been a good thing and just really appreciate appreciating what I have here when I’m in Western Australia, so that I miss it more when I still leave.
Phil Rickaby 45:26
Shane, thank you. Thank you so much for this conversation I really wanted to talk to you about about the state of theatre in there and hear your story because first off, it’s a great excuse to talk to you. But also because I really feel like like here, we can really use the the hope that the theatres are coming back. So thank you for that.
Shane Adamczak 45:47
Oh, it’s my pleasure. And I can’t wait to you guys get to start doing awesome stuff again, and hopefully I can come and see it.