Brooke Satchwell rose to attention playing Anne Wilkinson on Neighbours and most recently has been in the series Wonderland and a regular panellist on Dirty Laundry Live. The actor, 36, chatted to me about the virtual “mixed martial arts” of her latest role, chasing storms and some misconceptions from headlines about her.
What is a day in the life of you?
I quite often attempt to achieve a lot and I write up my day in five-minute increments, including “Brush your teeth”… I call it high-functioning OCD [laughs] … Strangely, during the process of The Play That Goes Wrong, that has infected my planning … Literally within 10 minutes of what I had planned to do, it will be something bloody different. Like I said, then there are great exercises for adaptability and surrender, and it has done the job really beautifully.
What can the audience expect from The Play That Goes Wrong?
They can expect a bloody good belly laugh … I have not loved the job like this for decades. This is one of those ones where I get so excited, no matter how battered and bruised and exhausted I am.
Why is the show so physically demanding?
Well, with one of my new all-time-favourite humans, Tammy Weller, who plays Annie, in the production, our characters engage in what you could call essentially mixed martial arts for the last 15 minutes of the show … We are rolling ourselves around at breakneck speed, every night, nine shows a week, four times over the weekend, and there is pretty much not a surface on me that hasn’t been tenderised at this point … I use arnica cream as body moisturiser at the moment.
Have you ever had such a physically demanding role?
Not to this degree, no.
What do you love most about making people laugh?
It feels so good. I mean, think of it like: anytime you are sitting with a mate and you just set each other off … how good does that feel, that connection, that joy? … It always comes back to that presence, being so present in the moment of being. That’s what makes us free, that’s what we are all chasing, no matter how we try to find it, whether we base jump, build computers, obsess over model trains, whatever it is that brings out joy.
What is the biggest challenge in comedy?
There is such a rhythm and a tempo that is kind of so delicate that it is immensely tricky. But, again, it’s so awesome when you achieve it because it’s like a ballet of connection with the audience.
You have worked in TV, stage and film. What is your favourite medium to work in?
I love them all. Television I love because there is that continuity of the work, you get to have a consistent engagement with a group of people, collaborating [over an] extended period … Obviously with theatre, the immediacy of reaction … and the wildly different responses that that can elicit from an audience is a really fascinating thing to play with.
Did you ever have a desire to work overseas?
No, no, not at all. I wondered for a long time whether that was based in fear or not but – I mean really, yes, there possibly is a greater wealth of professional options, particularly I guess in the US market, or UK … You’re essentially going over for a lot more notoriety or greater financial gain, and neither of those things float my boat.
After 20 years in the industry, what do you get most recognised for?
Traditionally it was Neighbours but strangely, lately, it’s Dirty Laundry.
What did you learn from working on a show like Neighbours?
There is no other series on television that churns out that amount of minutes, screen time, per week … I learnt incredible professionalism, and that is something they don’t teach in drama schools.
What did you learn from your time on Play School?
To be so open and so present is actually, as an adult, remarkably taxing because there are so many conditions and habits that fight against being that vulnerable.
You recently shared that you heard a Neighbours producer criticise your appearance at 17. How do you feel about this years later?
Oh, bless the Daily Mail. He was lovely … The producers that I work with are fabulous and this is the fascinating thing that tends to occur with certain sentences that can be — that was a comment that was made. It was by no means shaming, it was a passing [comment] …
You have also spoken out about domestic violence. What would be your advice for someone suffering from a violent relationship?
[The comments] get wholly misinterpreted, they get grabbed as soundbites and the true context or the integrity of what you are trying to say is lost, and I personally have never consciously gone out to make a statement about domestic violence, because for a very extensive period of time I’ve actually gone through the process of what that actually entails for an individual to come to terms with … One of the biggest issues is letting go of the potential or the perception of what would have been. I think the illusion is one of the most destructive things, that pull to constantly kind of go, “But what if?” That is part of a trap.
Do you hope to be acting for rest of your life?
Yes, but I hope I’m doing a billion other things as well … I’m quite excited that some of the prospects are opportunities for me to go back to writing, which was something I did prior to getting into acting. I thought that was kind of my main focus.
If you hadn’t gone down the entertainment path, what would you be doing?
I would really like to be a meteorologist. I’m a massive storm chaser. I really want to go to Tornado Alley one day.
WE WENT TO Mercado, Ash St, CBD
WE ATE 6 month aged jamon; Haloumi, fig & honey; Chickpea puree, flat bread; Cauliflower salad, pinenuts, pomegranates & labne; Soft shell crab bun, harissa & aioli; Roasted carrots, almond dukkah, tea soaked currants
WE DRANK Sprtiz De La Casa and La Mandarina
BROOKE WORE a Ginger & Smart dress
The Play that goes Wrong will be playing from the 5th of April in Sydney at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. http://theplaythatgoeswrong.com.au/tickets/