‘Would you like me to seduce you?’

Samuel Audas-Ryan and Paula Mandl as Benjamin Braddock and Mrs Robinson in Townsville Little Theatre's 'The Graduate' IMAGE: Kevin Chun Tie & Dennis Soloria

It’s one of the greatest film lines of all time. Right up there with:
“May the force be with you”
“I’ll have what she’s having”; and
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

And this September Townsville audiences will get to witness this iconic film line brought to stage when Townsville Little Theatre presents The Graduate.

Stepping into the role made famous by a young Dustin Hoffman is relative new-comer to theatre, Samuel Audas-Ryan. While Samuel has performed in several school productions (he’s a recent high school graduate himself) and bit roles with The Outback Players, The Graduate marks his first adult production and it’s a little… well, adult.

What can you tell us about The Graduate?
It’s very interesting, it’s very full on, and it doesn’t hold back. My character, Benjamin, finds himself in a situation with his parents’ friend, Mrs Robinson [played by Paula Mandl]. She’s a cougar. She’s just trying to seduce him … Benjamin just gets swept up in the rebellion of it all and it carries on from there and gets a bit out of hand. That’s quite an understatement.

What prompted you to take on this show?
I heard of it and I thought ‘maybe not, it’s quite a big play’, but then I thought ‘I may as well jump in straight away, get into the deep end and get the experience’ and that way it’ll help me when I go for even bigger plays and to be a bit more comfortable in my new acting boots.

How have you handled the *ahem* sexy scenes?
They have been very challenging and awkward, mainly awkward. But they have been rewarding in the fact that I’ve been pushing my comfort zone. Paula (Mandl, who plays Mrs Robinson) has been very good with them as well, making sure they aren’t too uncomfortable and giving me a ‘safe word’ in case this get a bit too weird – pineapples.

Do you feel much pressure taking on a story that is so well known?
Yeah. Heaps. Especially straight out of high school. It’s a big play and I’m very nervous, but I’m giving it my all and hopefully I can do it justice.

Have you seen the film?
I’m avoiding it because I want to make Benjamin my own character: I don’t want to be acting as Dustin Hoffman acting as Benjamin; I want to be me acting as Benjamin.

What have you been learning?
I’m learning from Sonia [Zabala], the Director, that she has a very unique style of directing. It’s given me heaps of different tips and tricks of the trade. It’s a new way of rehearsing and learning lines as well which is nice, because at high school it was very strict and by the book. The most challenging aspect has probably been the American accents.

What have you found most enjoyable?
I’ll have to be a little cliche here: working along side all of the other brilliant actors in the play and really being able to increase and work on different skills and learn from everyone. It’s honestly been the highlight of my year!

Townsville Little Theatre will present The Graduate at the Courthouse Theatre from 12-15 September 2018. Book tickets here.

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