Questioning Viv … er Bev 999.845.345
What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been said about the wonderfully talented and extremely fun Viv Moore? No doubt, you’ve all read one of my earlier blog entries about her, our friendship and her interesting and varied career? Well, if you haven’t, then you certainly should by checking out this link. After all it would save me retyping all that glamorous gossip about her. But who is she really you ask, and what does she have to do with this blog? Well Viv plays one half of the very odd duo of alien historians sent to document the end of the planet Earth in the upcoming audio series Flashback.
Bev 999.845.345 and her subordinate, Beverly 966.662.226 are sent by the Head Librarian on the planet Biblos to observe and make a record of all events on Earth leading up to the planet’s eventual destruction, but a problem with an ancient piece of analogue equipment leads to an unexpected chain reaction of events that could rapidly bring their mission to a shuddering halt. Bev likes to see herself as the more level-headed of the two, concerned with how the home world will react to anything deemed “outside” of the strict space fleet regulations. Beverly is more of a tourist on holiday and immerses himself in the culture of the planets they are sent to document, much to the horror and derision of his superior.
In the original video pilot of The Flashback, Bev was played by Veronika Hurnik, though subsequent projects with Michael meant that the character was recast and Viv assumed the role for a more “earth-bound” project involving the aliens and Egyptian art history. Actually even before Veronika, the role was briefly played by Jane Walker (Bev and Beverly’s computer in the audio series) … so Bev has more or less suffered a multiple personality kind of affliction. Though, when it came time to cast the audio series, Viv was the likeliest candidate to continue in the role. Plus, I just had to work with her again!
I recently caught up with Viv via email to ask her a few questions. I was lucky she even had time, what with flying across Canada and then deeply committed to rehearsing a new stage show in Toronto. I often wonder if she has time to eat and sleep these days.
Ed: Viv! We’ve known each other for a very long time now. Can you remember how we first met?
Viv: Eddy! Well, there was a party… and a kitchen… and a few bottles of wine. I remember closing the fridge door and then suddenly talking to you – hmm is that symbolic? We talked about York University and the solo show I did for my undergrad year, and I remember thinking “oh my god, this guy was from Visual Arts”, and since all Vis Arts folks were my idols, I was amazed that you’d even seen that performance and I was even more wowed that you liked it. I remember loving your energy and interest and loved talking to you that evening.
Do you remember some of the projects we did together? “Waking the Witch”,”Ohm – dance through an electric eye”,”Daddy’s Boy”, your Thesis show and the various Fringe things to name a few…
Remember!!!!! How could I possibly forget? Projects with you meant (and still mean) talking about ideas, laughing, drinking, and coming away from the experience with memories that are so full that I could just weep – and I did when you left.
Ah… you mean when I moved over to the UK from Canada… I always wondered if you thought involving you in my crazy projects meant that I was just some sort of weird eccentric.
Of course you are such a weird eccentric – yes! And thank goodness or else I wouldn’t still be working with you. You see, I only work with weird eccentrics. But with you, I love the way you include and involve and envelop people in your projects. Every show that I can think of that you and I have worked together on, I smile broadly because the details of those times are still so rich and clear. And even though you were no longer based in Toronto, you were still my obvious choice to be my “aide de everything” for my Master’s Thesis. It is sort of like you were growing out of my head… so I gave you an idea and you came up with a genius solution. But that’s the way it has always been – marvellous ideas flow between us on everything… on Waking the Witch, on Ohm… you have such a brilliant way of ‘realising’ end results that I have never possessed, so it’s like you are a magical elf who pulls ideas out of the etheric.
Magical elf? I’ll take that as a compliment, shall I? Actually I loved the challenge of helping to create images of you for your thesis show. Luckily I was visiting Toronto and was able to take a few snaps of you in costume, then with Photoshop and shots of local areas in South Wales, I was able to create some pretty beautiful portrait shots if I say so myself. Yeah, I guess with the magic of Photoshop, we artists become elves!
But on to Flashback now… I really want to know what you think of the character of Bev 999.845.345 and how she developed? I mean you didn’t play her in the video – that was Veronika Hurnik, who I believe you know – but did you still think of it as a challenge?
Actually I was honoured to be asked to play Bev 999.845.345. And yes I do know Veronika and have massive respect for her, so I didn’t ever hope to fill her shoes. I just hoped that I could do a good job for you. Bev is so dry and earnest and I had great fun playing her. So I didn’t really see it as a problem but more of a fun challenge, which is honestly how I see all of your gigs. This may sound corny but I don’t care if it does… I can’t tell you how glad I am that we are in each other’s lives because I am constantly energized by your creativity and joie de vivre.
I know that Michael really loved working with you on “Popular Science”. Of course that was the video where Bev and Beverly were more “earth-bound” weren’t they? They were forced to become hosts of children’s television shows just to make ends meet. Do you have any memories about the strange goings on in that video?
Ah Michael. You know, he seemed to pop into my life, make lots of splash and colour and then pop back out again. I adored his laissez-faire yet rebellious approach to life. “Popular Science” was a hoot to make and I had such fun working with Randall Lanthier. I can’t even begin to tell you what I did or said though! I just remember wearing some strange clothing, making pointed arm movements a la Egyptian style and then suddenly… it was over.
What was your first thought when I asked you to participate in Flashback the audio series?
Frankly… I was tickled pink and felt like I was part of a special clan!
Bev 999.845.345 is really a rather bizarre character isn’t she? I mean, she’s sometimes so straight-laced and proper, but most of the time is a seething bundle of conflicting emotions in a being who is not supposed to display emotion. Were you able to get into her mind and discover her hidden depths or was it simply too difficult given the hectic recording schedule?
Ah Bev… Yes she is a bizzare character but I felt I did get to know her to a certain extent. And yet, with everything I do I always think that more could have been done – you know that’s my endless parrot-talker that takes up residence on the shoulder quite often. He has been away a lot recently though, and I’m retiring him pretty soon, but he still shows up sometimes. Believe me, it wasn’t anything to do with the recording sessions.
So you wish you could have done something different or you weren’t happy with the performance you gave at the time?
No, just that I’m always my worst critic. I guess I felt that I wasn’t sure if you were completely happy with my performance when you took it home. Bev is so very straight and I tried to get an edge on her, but I actually don’t really know that she even needed one at times because she was so straight. I guess that made me doubt myself a little.
I shouldn’t worry if I were you. There is great humour in the performance because in many ways she is so rigid. She is almost too rigid but that plays extremely well with Randall’s interpretation of Beverly, who is much more loose and carefree. The later scenes of her going through “that odd thing she goes through” and then even later when she faces what she terms as “the vermin”… I laugh out loud every time I hear her sighs and tsk-tskings!
So, aside from any wee self-doubts, how was the experience of working in audio? Was it your first time, because I think it was our first time together not in video or theatre? Of course, we didn’t record in a studio environment so you really can’t comment on the level of professionality of it all, but surely the environments we did work in were, although rushed and squashed in between life commitments, conducive to creativity, and bonhomie?
Well, I’d done ADR work for about three films and really loved that, but in truth I haven’t done much pure audio. As for the experience… well, oh my god we had loads of laughs. I thought the professionalism you brought into each session was excellent and even though we didn’t have a studio, we had lovely kitchen tables… yes the work environment was top notch!
What was it like working with Randall again? What do you think of his interpretation of Beverly? I certainly can’t imagine that character being any one else but Randall, can you?
Love working with Randall. The relationship between Bev and Beverly is so very silly and yet real. I just love his interpretation of Beverly and I can still hear the dry sardonic tones right now ringing in my ears. In acting, he’s the perfect sparring partner.
So then, which do you like most, acting, choreography or directing/coaching?
Well, it seems like the various hats that I love wearing… those cycle themselves around in a very satisfying manner. Recently I’ve been doing far more dance work so that has placated my “oh I wish I was dancing more” body. But I would LOVE to do more voice work because it is such a different approach entirely to what I’m used to doing.
What sorts of characters would you like to play?
I enjoy a range really. Right now I’m playing the duck in “Peter and the Wolf” and she is ornery and impatient, so I’m really enjoying being bombastic and big. Rude and ugly would be another nice change!
Would you like to do more Flashback – say Series 2?
Are you serious? I would be up for flying to the moon and back with you. So in answer to your question – yes I’d love to do a Series 2!
I’m also creating another set of CD audio stories, though shorter than a ten part serial, thank goodness! As you know it is a parallel world take on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple where she isn’t such a sweet little old lady after all. I think you’d get your wish to play rude and ugly, don’t you?
Ah, yes please for Parallel world evil Miss Marple. And I’m not just saying that I love working with you as a mere platitude you know… you are one of my main inspirations in life and I am excited by the range of crazy projects you dream up. I am always honoured and delighted that you include me in your projects and in your life.
Hopefully by now you’ve heard the rough edits of Episodes 1 – 4 of Flashback. What do you think of them?
You know, I have enjoyed listening to the rough edits very much. I think you’ve done an amazing job of editing but I also love the sound effects. I thought the pacing was just right and the unfolding of the story is clear. I just think Bev should lose her marbles next time or just get naked!
Do you think that Michael would have liked the project? Seeing as it is in a way a tribute to him, do you feel his presence in the comedy as I do?
Oh yes. Michael would have laughed his socks off. His sense of the extreme and the ridiculous is totally present. That’s the reason that I love you so much, because you are ludicrously off-centre and completely barmy – and that’s the world that excites me most… the unexpected, the surreal. Michael and you had so many discussions about your art, and I know you wanted to honour him as well, so I think you have provided a wonderful tribute to him, while still infusing yourself deeply in there.
Most of the parts as you know were recorded separately and then put together later by me. Do you think that they feel natural?
Yes the editing is glorious – works a treat, and I can’t tell at all that we’re all miles away in different recordind spots.
Well Sarah Douglas did her recording with post being shoved through the letterbox only to land on her shoulder! At least you and I had a bigger kitchen… your kitchen to record in!
I hate to admit this but before this project I’m afraid I didn’t know much about Sarah or her career, but rest-assured I do now! I think it is just so excellent that she is involved and I’m sure her fans will be delighted with the entire series.
If you were to describe to me your “ideal” project to be involved in, what would it be?
Hmm. I think it might have to involve travel and camels – oh no wait! I think I’m doing that in October! But travel is always good. Errr… Ideal? Well, there have been so many different projects that I have already been involved in, and each one at the time was brilliant. Dudley Castle dancing with my Mum in “Waking the Witch”; dancing in New Mexico… I don’t know, this will sound corny but, as long as I can keep doing the things that have integrity and that I feel really passionate about and still intrigued in, then that will be ideal. Just as long as I don’t have to hold up adult diapers and tell viewers how good they are on a commercial – that wouldn’t be ideal!
Have you been telling your friends and colleagues about the project to get their opinion and are you proud of the work?
I have been sharing it yes, but I am also aware that I don’t get on the net as much as I might like to in order to spread any gospel. So I will have to get on that more. But yes I am very proud of the work
Don’t worry too much about spreading the gospel yet! Wait until the box set is available for sale then pitch pitch pitch! But seriously, do you have any other thoughts on the time you spent working on Flashback that you’d like to share?
Only that I’m very excited to see where this will go, and I am always so inspired by the fact that you have an idea and then finish it. There are many dreamers out there who only dream, but you are not one of those. I know how involved you are and have always been, in the greater world of sci-fi, so I’m intrigued to become part of that world for myself, because I haven’t really been into sci-fi that much… well, except for “Doctor Who” when it first started back in 1963!
And I’m sure the sci-fi world will love hearing you as the neurotic Bev the alien! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for the blog!
Click here for a scene from Episode One where Bev and Beverly discuss documenting history. Keep in mind that the scene is not mixed nor mastered and is a rough edit, but you get the idea! Below is a composite image of Viv in character from her Thesis Performance with a reconstruction of the set she performed in.
Leave a Reply