Veteran Kiwi actor Mick Innes celebrates his 60th birthday in the best way possible – by doing a solo show. Opening next week, Zen Dog is a 'straight up, no holds barred, piercing and hilarious’ confessional, written in collaboration with young Brazilian-Kiwi director, Roberto Nascimento. Renee Liang interviews Mick and Roberto ahead of the show.
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Mick Innes is a familiar face on our stages and screens: with a career spanning three decades, some of his more notable shows include Bootmen, Home and Away, Hounds, Sunny Skies, SuperCity and Shortland St. Turning 60 triggered his decision to do the solo stage show he’d never done. Friend, fellow actor and producer Roberto Nascimento was the other catalyst, agreeing to co-devise and direct the show. I asked them to dish the dirt on their motives for making this show.
Why did you choose to become an actor?
I had to be. If I wasn’t, I’d probably be an axe murderer.
What triggered this retrospective of your life?
Turning 60 and still alive. It’s been a rock’n’roll journey… so, it’s looking back affectionately at the highs and lows and in-betweens. The drugs were good.
Can you let us in on some of the juicy bits?
Nope! Come and see.
How did you write the show?
Roberto and I had a way of using improvisation, then reviewing and writing.
What was the hardest part to write?
Is it harder to write, or to stand in front of an audience and perform?
How did this project with Mick come about?
We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years. We thought the moment was right, perfect timing with Mick’s 60th.
You're a first time director, but you've acted and produced for many years. What's different about it?
I think it’s all connected. I’ve been directed by great people, so I know what I like as an actor and I also know every actor responds in different ways – I keep an open mind, I listen and I like to keep things relaxed. The main difference is that I’m not on stage at the end of it, but I treat every opportunity to work as a gift and I enjoy the process of getting a show ready.
Is it hard, directing something so personal?
I’m lucky that Mick is my friend and we are used to having real talks – we share a lot with each other. The hardest thing for me was actually finding the right structure, as this is my first time devising a show. Some stories were hilarious, others incredibly painful – it’s all in his eyes. In saying that, we just had a good time and great laughs – it’s an upbeat and fascinating story and we are just friends doing what we love to do.
What's your favorite part?
Hanging out with Mick, sharing great stories and having a good time doing it.
What are you working on next?
I don’t actually know, nothing concrete at this stage. I’m open to whatever opportunities might come my way.
You are working together on this - are your roles are strictly as actor/writer and director or are you more collaborative?
Roberto: Definitely collaborative, I couldn’t work any other way.
Mick: It’s a collaboration. It could only be.