Maeve Cox. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Maeve Cox, winner of The Sydney Eisteddfod Actor's Championship (12-14 years) for 2018, spoke about what motivates her as an actor and the friendships she has formed through Sydney Eisteddfod.
What inspired your passion for acting?
My passion for acting definitely started with a passion for trying new things. When I was little, my mum enrolled me in drama class, after an unsuccessful trial of ballet class, where I used to hide in the cupboards! As my parents always say, give everything a red hot go, and that’s what I did with drama. Even though I was only 5, I immediately fell in love with acting; the stage, the audience, and most importantly the emotional connections I got to form with other actors.
Who inspired you to start acting?
My Mum who wanted me to try different things and to find the activity that clicked with my personality. Because I was really outgoing in primary school, my teachers always gave me opportunities to perform. My first school performance was in the piece “The Kite” for the Arts North Drama Festival on stage at NIDA when I was in Year 2. Thanks Mrs Richardson!
What motivates you as an actor?
I just love acting. It’s fun! I also love being able to step outside myself and be another person for a little while and to make the audience feel something. It’s amazing when acting makes other people happy!
I am also really motivated by the emotional connections that acting forms whether between myself and the other actors or myself and the audience. The adrenalin when you walk up onto the stage and before you open your mouth, the fear that something might go wrong, you might forget your lines or that people won’t react. And then you start and it all just flows out of you. It’s really thrilling.
Tell us a little bit about one of the pieces you chose for your solo performance.
The final piece I performed in the Actors Championship this year was a monologue from Lucy, the main character in Michelle Ashton’s play, “Fine”. This play, about the abusive and turbulent life of teenager Lucy, is brutally emotional, and eerily real. The monologue I chose to perform is the raw and beaten down Lucy finally telling her therapist about her family and home life. This piece is beautiful. It takes the audience on an emotional journey, as Lucy gradually lowers her protective shield to tell her brutal story. What I love most about this piece is how confronting it is.
What’s your favourite type of character to play, and why?
People watch what I call “comfort theatre” all the time. Theatre about characters and places far away from reality. As an audience, we can sit back, enjoy and not have to be be faced with the real world for a little while. My favourite type of characters to play are real people. I like to think that I’m not a storyteller, I’m almost like a newsreader. I portray real emotions and issues to people in a way that’s almost factual. I think that in every character there is truth, a truth that harks back to modern day society and I think that if everyone understood each other on an emotional level, there would be peace.
Which other actors do you most like to watch, and why?
I love Hugh Jackman. His versatility is amazing. In Logan he was so dark playing the old and bitter Wolverine and then in The Greatest Showman he was completely different, the loving father with the dream, singing and dancing and making us all feel great. The only thing I could recognise between the 2 characters is his face. Les Mis showed his amazing range and I was amazed that he voices the Easter Bunny in “Rise of the Guardians”. I also love that he is Australian!
What is the best piece of performance advice you’ve ever heard?
Probably the best advice I’ve ever heard came from Paul Winchester of Point Break Drama. I remember when I attended drama classes there, I was loud and confident on stage, but I just couldn’t penetrate further into making my acting believable. He told me that in order to act, one must not act; one must be. Don’t pretend to feel what the character is feeling, just feel it. We are not robots, we are capable of emotion. Why pretend to be happy, when we are capable of actual happiness? It is from this single piece of advice from about 5 years ago that I base all performances on. It literally flipped my abilities and I am so thankful to Point Break Drama.
What have you learnt from your Sydney Eisteddfod experience?
If at first you don’t succeed try again. Learn from other people. When I first started participating in Eisteddfods I knew so little. I was in awe of all the amazing people and I have learned so much just by watching them perform.
I have been participating in Sydney Eisteddfods since 2015. In my first year I was thrilled to get a third placing as well as a few HC’s, but it was this first year that I made some new friends. This group of actors have been performing and competing together for a few years now and we always all cheer each other on. We are all thrilled for each other when one of us does well and it really doesn’t matter who wins. We come from all over Sydney and beyond, but I always look forward to seeing them all every year.
What would you say to a younger actor who was thinking about entering Sydney Eisteddfod?
To anyone thinking of entering Sydney Eisteddfod, do it! It’s an amazing experience to be able to stand on stage and do what you love. The adjudicators always give amazing feedback that helps with your next performance.
I have been so lucky to have made some great friends through the Speech and Drama competitions; Callum Treanor, Zoe Beauchamp and Bella Merlino, just to name a few. I met Bella Merlino 4 yrs ago at Sydney Eisteddfod and we have become firm friends since then and are always scheming about acting in things we can do together. Although we live on different sides of Sydney we aim to enter the duologues next year for the first time.
There are no negatives to taking part in the Sydney Eisteddfod. There are only positives. I will always keep coming back again and again so I can keep on learning and growing.
What do you hope to achieve next?
Earlier this year I was thrilled to perform a lead role of “Thomas” in my school’s production of “The Book of Everything” by Guus Kuijer. In 2019, I will be taking Drama as an elective and hope to be able to participate again in the school productions. I am working on my Trinity exams for the first time, as I would love to teach Speech and Drama one day. In 2019, I will also be in the older category for Sydney Eisteddfod, so I look forward to learning so much from these older actors and watching their amazing performances.