Cameron McKenzie is one of the several international artists who brought over their work for a New York premiere at this year’s Fringe festival. With a career in Australian television behind him, Cameron began his theater company Good Little Theatre and produced the company’s first play in 2013. Since then, Cameron has been bringing his own play, The Road to Odessa, to theater festivals around the world. The Road to Odessa is a one-man show about the love and loneliness that drives one man to explore Ukraine’s mail-order bride industry. We discussed what it’s like to be an international participant at Fringe and what he’s taken away from his adventures in theater.LMezz: Welcome to New York City! What has it been like premiering your show for a New York audience?
Cameron McKenzie: It’s been amazing. The audiences have really taken to the story which is a great boost of confidence for me. It’s just such a great opportunity just being here. It has also been terrifying premiering the show here alone but everyone has been really supportive which has been just great.
CK: Well we have a very strong arts culture in Melbourne and I’m happy to be doing my bit to export it abroad. In terms of theatre trends, I think Melbourne performers are really getting back to basics in what makes good theatre and I see that in the amount of simple, direct, no-frills storytelling that happens a lot back home.
LM: What has it been like being in a festival community made up largely of non-New Yorkers and do you all find opportunities to support each other’s art?
CK: This is actually the first fringe festival I have been involved with, but I have performed extensively back home in Australia and my brothers do a lot of festivals. I have always gone to see their shows and every time I do, I get a distinct feeling of community among the performers, which you do get doing screen work and stand alone plays. But festivals I think are a lot more social both here and back home. It’s been great to experience that for myself and to have such a great sense of camaraderie here because part of a great performance is being able to get up with what you have written with your head held high, regardless of what happens, and having that kind of support is really important.
LM: Your play The Road to Odessa is about an outsider experience as well. Can you speak a bit about the piece and what you hope to present with it?
CK: The show is about the lengths that a person can go to in order to find some love in their lives. I had always hoped that the price would reflect the small unwavering elements of hope that one can find in the dark and lonely moments we sometimes have. I wanted to show how strong the hope of finding the right person can be and the paths that we take to find them. Plot-wise, the show is about giving up on finding someone and instead getting a mail order bride. That interested me because the morally questionable nature of it forces the character to ask himself why is he doing this and the answers he finds tell him more about his life and the life of his past than he had previously known.