Young actor Kamil Ellis will make his Shakespearean stage debut next month in a star-studded season of the classic tragedy Macbeth alongside international action man Jai Courtney.
It’s a change of pace for the Wiradjuri teenager who recently headed the cast in season three of one of TV’s hottest teen shows, Nowhere Boys, and who is also in the science fiction drama, Cleverman.
“Everyone is really hyped-up about it,” Ellis, 17, says of the Melbourne Theatre Company’s new production of the Scottish play.
“It’s a pretty magnificent thing to be doing a Shakespeare play. I never thought I would do one, but yeah, it’s cool. I’ve loved it so far.”
Ellis says Jai Courtney, who shot to international fame as Bruce Willis’ son in A Good Day to Die Hard in 2013, is “a phenomenal man”.
“I love Jai. I’m reasonably close with Jai as well,” he says. “Jai is also young so we click in that way. He’s a beautiful human.”
Ellis, who is in Year 12, moved from Sydney to Melbourne to work in the production and is keeping up with his school work in between rehearsals.
He will sit his Year 12 trial exams just four weeks after the play’s run ends.
“I’m based in Sydney, which is a lot harder coming down to finish Year 12 as well,” Ellis says.
“The whole syllabus down here is completely different to Sydney. Finding a tutor who can help me with my subjects down in Melbourne has been quite hard.”
But he says the chance to act in the production more than makes up for the challenge.
He will play two characters — one a witch and the other a young Fleance, the son of Macbeth’s friend and ally Banquo.
Ellis, who describes himself as an “unmethod actor”, says it took him a while to master Shakespeare’s old English speech — the play is believed to have first debuted in 1606.
“I definitely found it challenging — me being a little teenager in the world of everything that is now the 21st Century and definitely hearing the whole terminology difference that he used to use,” Ellis says.
“I struggled when I first started this job in articulating everything and just kind of speaking the language. It’s taken me a very long time to grasp that.
“But now that we’re edging into the third week of rehearsals, I am understanding the message behind all the different words he uses. I’m coming to grips with it now.”
The production is Ellis’ second turn in a stage production — he has previously acted in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Secret River.
By Wendy Caccetta
- The Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth, directed by Simon Phillips and starring Courtney as Macbeth and Geraldine Hakewill as Lady Macbeth, will run at the Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, from June 5-15, with opening night on June 9. Tickets are on sale at com.au or via (03) 8688 0800.