Upon a Barstool with Felix Nobis

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Upon a Barstool with Felix Nobis

Ahead of this year’s National Celtic Festival, I was lucky enough to catch up with Australian playwright, actor and poet Felix Nobis, who will be performing his acclaimed one man show Once Upon a Barstool. He told me that it was commissioned by the Irish Arts Council.

“I wrote it when I was living in Ireland … about 10 years ago, but it always changes. It always sort of morphs from one thing into another. I put it away for a few years and I pick it up again and change a few bits or if there’s a section that I haven’t been happy with, I kind of tighten that so it’s an ongoing work in continuous progress” he explained.

Nobis toured his translation of eighth century Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf in 2004, across America, Australia and Europe, and it had an influence on the piece to be performed at the Celtic festival.

“Once Upon a Barstool sort of grew out of [Beowulf],” he says.

“I was interested in creating a modern-day epic story so I borrowed a little bit from the structure of Beowulf to create a new epic tale which told a modern story.”

It was a unique series of events that led to Nobis performing at the Celtic Festival this year; he recalled that he had put it aside for a few years before being asked to perform at an intimate house show.

“I hadn’t performed it for maybe three years or so, and then toward the end of last year someone asked me to perform it in their house. They do a little bit of theatre and performance in their house to invited guests – it’s sort of the perfect show for that. In the audience was someone who invited me to perform at the Celtic club as part of a fundraiser for Blooms Day, so I did that and in that audience was someone from [The National Celtic Festival]. We spoke afterwards and I asked if they might be interested in hosting the show,” Nobis says.

The esteemed poet has an extensive acting career with appearances on All Saints, a regular spot on ABC’s MDA and a role in 1991 film Flirting (which also featured Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts), but he’s much too busy within the realm of theatre and teaching to consider reprising his acting career just yet.

“I’ve been really fortunate with television,” admitted Nobis.

“I got to work on some terrific series with some really good people and that was very, very satisfying. Now I’m much more focused on theatre and I’m teaching at the set of a theatre in performance at Monash University and I really enjoy that as well. I enjoy creating theatre with [the students] and talking about how theatre is constructed,” he professed before adding. “I’m in no huge hurry to get back to television but some actors when they get a bit older return and start playing completely different characters, so maybe I’ll give it another 10 years.”

Currently, Nobis’ latest show Boy Out of The Country is touring regional Victoria. He is the show’s writer and director. It just recently passed through Drysdale with still a handful of dates remaining.

“It’s fantastic fun; the audiences are loving it and the actors do it such justice. It’s like watching a part of me on stage,” Nobis said with a laugh. “I’m very, very proud of that show”.

With Nobis performing his one-man show at the National Celtic Festival and his latest show Boy Out of The Country touring now, don’t miss your chance to see one of Australia’s most exciting writers in action.

Written by Jack Cherry

When & Where: National Celtic Festival, Portarlington – June 10-13