Snapshot of troubled minds

ACTORS are renowned for their ability to effortlessly shed their skin and jump into a whole new persona.

However former Queanbeyan boy turned professional actor Adam McConvell had to delve deeper than usual when he took on the role of a war-zone photographer in Bare Witness.

The new play opens at the Canberra Street Theatre next Tuesday, and takes the audience away to warzones in the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq as a cast of foreign correspondents and photographers try to make sense of the horrific violence they witness there.

"It's a really exciting project to be involved with. It's very physical and dynamic," Mr McConvell said.

"It examines what it is to take these kinds of photos and use them, and the affect that it has on those journalists who are out there in these areas trying to affect change. It looks at the personal cost of that," he said.

Mr McConvell grew up in Queanbeyan and studied at the ANU before heading to Japan and working for a number of Japanese theatre companies.

He relocated to Melbourne some 12 years ago now, where he makes a living as a full-time actor.

Performing with Bare Witness has given him another complex character to add to his resume in the form of Zach, an Irish photojournalist who's talented but unstable.

"Zach's very good at what he does, but he's also a very damaged character as well," Mr McConvell said.

"He's a brilliant photo journalist, but he's quite affected because of the things he seen and the warzones he's been to. And he medicated a bit with drugs as well as a result.

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Getting into the headspace of a character like Zach involved long hours of research reading biographies of war correspondents, which Mr McConvell said was one of the best parts of the job.

"The good thing about being an actor is that you get to research, and with every new show you learn about a different part of the world or something you hadn't known before," he said.

"When I did research on this play, drugs do actually play a part in some of these people's lives as they try to medicate away the trauma they've experienced.

"The thing is, if you're in there taking all these photos of traumatic situations, at the same time these journalists are living in those situations as well. That's what this play explores.

"It is an emotional journey, but it's a very dynamic piece as well," he said.

Bare Witness was inspired by real events and takes the audience on a personal journey into the disintegrating mind of Dannie (played by AFI Award Winner, Daniela Farinacci) as she re-lives her experience at the front line of the media.

Rigorously developed over several years by playwright Mari Lourey, it received the 2005 R E Ross Trust Script Development Award and was short-listed for the Patrick White Playwrights' Award 2008.

See Bare Witness at The Street Theatre, 15 Childers St, Canberra City West from next Tuesday November 6 to Saturday, November 10. Bookings on 6247 1223 or at

www.thestreet.org.au

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