The Childlike Empress (Erika Naddei). Photo: Harvest Rain Theatre Co.

The Neverending Story
Harvest Rain Theatre Company, QPAC.
Season: 27 April – 12 May, 2012

Brisbane is host to a world premiere stage performance of Michael Ende’s classic, The Neverending Story.

The Auryn, mystical emblem of the Childlike Empress, links the tales of two heroes. Fantasia and its ruler will be consumed by The Nothing (the death of human imagination) unless young warrior Atreyu can bring human child, Bastian Balthazar Bux, to Fantasia to give the empress a new name.

Erika Naddei, second year intern with Harvest Rain, is thrilled to play the magical Childlike Empress: “It’s just an honour: it’s the role I wanted to play when I was a kid.”

What was the audition process for The Neverending Story?

This one was a bit different because we already knew we would be part of the show. We had a day set aside for the audition. We read the different parts. It was a casual and intimate audition; the best audition I have ever been to. About a week later we found out what characters we were.

What is the rehearsal process like?

We felt like we were rushed but we’d had so much time going into it: every day for about three weeks with a few days off in between.

Tim O’Connor (director) was really open to us having our own ideas too. The statues offered their own movement. It was good being interns because we got to workshop it before audition. So we got to come up with ideas; Tim was open to it – he always is.

What are the challenging aspects of playing the Childlike Empress?

The most challenging thing was we didn’t know how she would move. Until a few days before we opened, I had been doing the scene with my arms beside me: I felt really restricted and it felt a bit lacklustre. I received the advice: just be free; do what you feel. Dan Stenz suggested I have a look at the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland. That [lack of movement] was the most difficult thing to overcome.

Did you use a high vocal pitch because the Childlike Empress is young and dying from the Nothing?

A mix of both. At the start [my voice] was really up high and I found it really awful actually. We workshopped it to get a bit more of that deeper sound to it and ground it a bit more. We found the sound that we liked about week two: it sounded right, it felt right.

In your role you don’t get to interact much with the puppets.

At the beginning I get to interact with the Rockchewer. I was originally going to be [assisting with] the Morla head as Dana Musil and I do the voice for that. We were going to be in [the puppet] moving the head, Dana and I, but it was too hard to manoeuvre with two people in there, and we thought it strange not to have the statues [Greek chorus] working there. They are intimate with everything else.

What are your goals as a second year intern with Harvest Rain?

I really enjoy the production side of things. I want to know everything! I’ve always been a singer but never really had the training so that has been my goal this year, … and acting as well.

How familiar are you with the 1979 book?

I’m about halfway through the book. I read up until where our script, the movie ends. I’m going to wait until we finish the show. Instead of leaving The Neverending Story at the door, I will still have a bit to look forward to. It’s a magical story.