Interview: Lara Fabregas, actress and founder of Ellipsis Theatre

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Lara Fabregas is a Filipino actress and founder of Ellipsis Theatre. Venturing out into the field after a break from acting to raise four children, she returns to Hong Kong for a premiere of The Human Voice at the Fringe Club. The Human Voice was written by the famous French surrealist Jean Cocteau in 1930, and is an emotional 45-minute monologue set in Paris, where a woman is on the phone with her lover, who has left her for someone else. We speak to Lara Fabregas on choosing this peculiar play and the difficulties of being the only one in the spotlight for the entire time.

Why did you choose to produce this piece?
I performed his piece 15 years ago and felt I didn't do it very well, that I didn't understand it completely and that I was too young for it. I think I'm the right age for it now. I also wanted the first production of Ellipsis to be small. I am a first time producer and all this is new to me.

How do you prepare for a 45 minute monologue?
The Human Voice is particularly challenging because it is only one half of a telephone conversation. The woman is on the telephone with her lover of five years who has left her to marry someone else. You never hear the man's voice. Learning the lines is difficult because the cues are imagined and in your head. It is an intense process because I am on my own, the focus entirely on me. There are no breaks.

What are the difficulties and joys of playing a monologue?
You have to come back to me on the joys but I can make a very long list of difficulties. I love theatre because it is basically a team sport. For the Human Voice we are still a production team behind the scenes but onstage I am on my own, which is daunting. There is no one else to bounce off on, no one to watch my back once the lights go on and the show starts. It can be a very lonely experience.

The Human Voice has been presented with a variety of stage designs, like video projection, gold telephones on plinths, what will you add to the piece?
Many of the productions of the Human Voice have been very melodramatic, heightened dramas, almost like classic Greek tragedies. Cocteau himself wrote it to be performed in this manner. We are trying to approach it in a different way- more subtle, more truthful and honest. The woman has also most often been portrayed as a victim and we are exploring other possibilities, that perhaps she is stronger than she thinks she is.

What do you hope the audience will get from your performance?
I hope I succeed in creating a character who is rich and complicated and interesting. As for the production, I am hoping that we are able to create something noble and compelling. I find very little things better than walking out of a theatre after an amazing production. It's almost like being reborn, like being lost in another world for a short while.

The last show is on Oct 15, 8pm at the Fringe Club. Tickets: $250, ticketflap.com

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