Not many sixteen-year old girl gets the chance to play the character of a middle aged patriarch who has been described as of “grotesque appearance, with a tubby body, a snub-nose, a crooked tooth and a receding chin. He was often depicted reading in the den or lounging on the windowsill.” Lindsay Austria of Mount St Benedict College in Pennant Hills, did just that and received accolade for breathing life superbly into the character of Gomez Addams in The Addams Family stage play.
Lindsay is the eldest daughter of Olan Austria and Julie, who hails respectively from Cavite and Bulacan in the northern part of the Philippines. She was born and bred in Hornsby, in the upper North Shore Area. Her younger sister Mikhaella is 10 years old and is currenty a student in St Agatha’s Catholic Primary School also in the same area.
The Australian Filipina had the opportunity to catch up with Lindsay and is glad to share her responses to a few questions to give an insight into her portraying Gomez Addams and her persona.
*Before this recent achievement, what else do you hold fondly in your heart as your achievements so far?
Ultimately, it is within having these achievements that I can develop my legacy –being able to explore my passions and interests to encourage others to do the same. I am very thankful to my parents and family for always supporting me and allowing me to grow as an individual.
Within the Performing Arts aspect - I have been elected as Music Captain – providing me with the opportunity to be involved in St Vincent De Paul Busking, perform in liturgies and assemblies, and become a secondary lead in the College’s 2019 Beauty and the Beast Musical.
For two years, I was a part of the College’s Student Representative Council, the Champion of the Christine De Launey Spellathon; awarded the Sister Helen Lombard Award; provided an award for completing the Premier Reading Challenge for 11 years; provided the opportunity to fundraise through the ‘Write-A-Book in a day’ competition, and to be a part of a media internship, writing articles for Australian Catholics Magazine and Madonna Magazine Winter and Spring Editions.
*Going back to the stage play, what the stage play is about; the process of auditioning, and the rehearsals involved before the actual staging of the play?
The Addams Family is a comedy, which embraces the ‘wackiness’ in every family. It revolves around an original story of every father’s nightmare, Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness has grown up and fallen in love with a young man from a respectable family, Lucas Beinecke. Lucas is a man her parents have never met, and they are engaged. Furthermore, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he has never done before – keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. The plot reveals how everything will change from when the Addams family finally meet Wednesday’s ‘normal’ boyfriend and his parents.
The auditioning process started around June of 2021 during the COVID pandemic lockdown. All my submissions were through videos and in front of the director panel through Zoom. Firstly, for a different lead character - Fester (Gomez’s brother). However, in receiving a call back, the directors and auditioning panel gave me the opportunity to audition for Gomez Addams - the main lead role. It was quite a challenge auditioning through zoom because it was hard to connect with the audience. Often a performer’s energy relies on the connection and response they receive from the audience – however, it felt quite detached.
Our first rehearsals were also online which was a challenge because I could not get to know the other cast members - there was a sense of disconnection, which significantly impacts one’s performance. However, as lockdown restrictions eased, we worked hard as a family – making special memories along the way.
*What did you enjoy most in being involved in the stage play ?
It was a thrill to play this character, channelling his sense of pride and passion for his family. I learned various aspects about myself - my strengths and weaknesses physically, mentally, and emotionally from playing Gomez, as well as learning how to live and breathe his character on stage. The main thing I learned was base emotions in stage acting, and the power of stillness and intention - that sometimes silence without dialogue can communicate more to the audience.
The musical is one of the main highlights of my high school experience. This was my first time becoming a lead and all my memories and friends will be cherished. I believe having this lead role allowed me to create my legacy - binding the whole school community together from all the two hundred students involved, parents, staff, and external sources.
This production reminded us of how colourful the school’s identity is – with inspiring, talented, and beautiful peers and mentors. The musical is my legacy, in which its impact on memories, experiences, friends, and family will last beyond my absence after I graduate. The school’s environment has become warmer because of this production - we all are close; we respect and value each other.
*On the flip side, what were the not-so-good parts and what could have been better/ you think you could have done better?
It was a challenging journey playing a 50-year-old Latin man with a tenor range as a teenage girl in high school. However, I believe I have grown so much throughout this production both in my passions and interests and my internal mindset and confidence.
Also, the disconnection I felt during the zoom rehearsals with my cast. It was hard not being able to work with the cast and create special bonds with them. It was only after lockdown restrictions eased that we became super close as a family.
Lastly, the moustache I wore for every performance was for sure one of the highlights. It kept coming off no matter what type of glue we put on – so sometimes I would improvise on stage if it fell off, or we would draw it.
*You are going to Year 12 next year; what studies do you plan to pursue and what else do you wish to achieve in the field of acting?
I am passionate about Law. For sure in my last year of school - I'll continue my involvement in Performing Arts, or perhaps beyond high school I might join a community theatre, there are so many of them around Hornsby.
Most of my subjects at school are ‘Human Society and its Environment’ based on Economics, Business Studies, Legal Studies, and English. I am fascinated by how different Legal Systems work, and the importance of lawyers’ role in achieving justice, and I am enthusiastic about informing myself about social issues and injustices that occur globally, that should be recognised.
My passion stems from recognising the injustices and grave vices prevalent in society, even in our community. My drive stems from recognising my privilege of having a voice, being educated, being a young woman in Australia and having access to resources allowing me to have the capacity to shape the future, not just react to it. It is with this drive and hunger, that I have the tenacity to attain my goals in all aspects of my life.
*What advice can you give the young people who may have a passion or dream but may be hesitating or having problems pursuing them?
To be honest, before high school I did not know what my passions or dreams were. But I knew my interests and strengths during my schooling years, and I sought any opportunity that I could find where I could develop these interests.
As a result, I was able to find my passions, especially within performing arts - musical theatre, being a voice and advocating for those without a voice like minority communities and shaping the future with the resources I have.
So, if you have passions and dreams - hold on to them. My mum always tells me that they are God’s Gift to us. And it’s true. I genuinely did not know I would become the lead role in the musical. But one thing I know is that if it’s for you, it will come to you. Trust God, trust the process. Be patient, listen to yourself - what is something that makes you love life. What makes you feel like it’s a hobby.
Another thing that I live by is the saying by Bob Parsons : If it were easy, then everyone would do it. Yes, all of us may have the same aspirations, goals, and dreams - but what differentiates us to achieve it, is who is going to commit through the challenging rocky road to get there. My dad says everyone wants a shortcut to success - but there isn’t one.
Believe it is achievable. Say it aloud, share it with your friends and family, write it on a piece of paper, or make a vision board. I want you to see it. Anyone can achieve what they desire, if they commit to it, and live their life every day as if they have already achieved it.
*What is your definition of ‘success’?
Every single person has a different definition of success. But all definitions are valid. For me, an integral part of my identity is sustaining integrity and authenticity to myself, others, and my actions. My success is not the final outcome, but rather being able to achieve my personal goals that I strive for along the journey.
For example, in asserting myself in leadership structures and co-curricular programs, I aim to further develop my confidence, meet new people, be able to be a voice and advocate for what I believe in or even practice time management and balance.
The final outcome of any opportunity is the additional benefit of success that we reap after we have committed to our personal goals.
I always have the drive, and the tenacity to create my own legacy in everything I do. I want to inspire others by courageously seeking any opportunity to develop my passions, and also remind our community how diversely talented and beautiful we are. It is within these opportunities that contribute to making our community’s identity colourful. Creating a lasting impact in our absence. This is what success means to me.
The Australian Filipina wishes Lindsay more success in the performing arts and in the further studies she is going to pursue.