Ryan Auberson-Walsh talks theatre and hats.

Former altar boy Troy Harrison is a 33-year-old man who’s on a quest for blood and glory. Well, not literally. Though he is a tenacious actor on a noble mission to bring the stories of a Puerto Rican New Yorker to life on the Sydney stage.

Harrison is both an actor and on the production team of upcoming play The Motherf*cker With the Hat. The show delves into the mind of former addict Jackie (Harrison) and his drink-loving high school sweetheart Veronica (Zoe Trilsbach) as they navigate their rekindled relationship under the guidance of sponsor Ralph D (John Atkinson).

Harrison himself describes it a little more poetically: “In a nutshell, the play’s about real people. It’s about fidelity. It’s about trust. It’s about relationships. It’s about moving your life forward and figuring out the things that are holding you back … in a very funny, abusive way”. And, we imagine it’s also about a hat that seems to fuck everything up.

The play is fresh from a six-time Tony-nominated stint in the Big Apple and is now being revived by newly created company Workhorse Theatre Co.. Harrison points out that although this performance might not have Chris Rock or Bobby Cannavale as the leading actors, it still pulls its weight.

“Obviously when you’ve got something on Broadway and something from an independent production house in Sydney, Australia, there are going to be differences. Most of it’s going to come from budget. There’s a lot of things that they were able to do that we just can’t,” Harrison tells Vertigo.

“We’ve done what we can to create a believable world for the audience, but there’s no real difference [compared to the original production]. The people on Broadway did the same thing as what we’re doing – just trying to find the truth in the characters and go on from there.”

Although in searching for this truth Harrison found he could relate to the titular character Jackie in a number of ways, the challenge for him is his workload that would make the most organised of double degree university students cringe in utmost fear.

Following a visit from legendary acting teacher Larry Moss when he came Down Under in 2011, Harrison says he was lucky enough to be accepted into Moss’ masterclass program, where he was inspired by Moss’ go-getter, fuck it attitude to bringing acting work to you.

However since founding Workhorse Theatre Co., it’s been a game of balance for Harrison and his wife of four months who also works with the company.

“As soon as this play’s ended its run, my wife and I are finally going on our honeymoon where we’ll be spending eight weeks in Europe,” Harrison tells Vertigo.

Luckily there are opportunities to have a breather every now and then on set, with rehearsals of the performance serving as a rather interesting experience for this curly-haired, blue-eyed draughthorse from Mt Druitt.

“In the play, my wife’s acting as my partner who’s still an addict, and I’m getting to say things that you never would to your partner… Walking out of rehearsals with your wife after you’ve called her every name under the sun… makes for an interesting home life. But the nice thing is that it’s a chance to get out any angst on stage and at the end you can still say, ‘I love you’.”

His passion is something that comes through in the brief interview, but opening up about his plans for a yet-to-be-titled web series he’s writing show there’s a lot of Harrison that’s still in some way connected to Sydney’s Christian west.

“In a nutshell, the series is basically about a man who meets God in a bar. He’s on death’s doorstep and his mind takes him to a bar where he meets this beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking person and God’s basically going to live vicariously through this atheist to try and right some of the wrongs in his life… I myself was force fed religion as a child and it wasn’t till I was about fourteen that I sort of started getting my own opinions about religion and that’s where it all comes from.”

With the intent to launch the series once he returns from his trip overseas, it seems that Harrison is beginning to reach some of those dreams in his life that his mother so lovingly pushed him towards as a child.

“The one thing I had going for me was my mother. She really instilled in me and my siblings that we could be anything that we wanted to be and it does make it a little harder when you don’t have the economic status to help you, but if you want something bad enough, you’ve got nothing to stop you.”

And nothing has stopped him since. Powering through his career so far that has seen him work in television and on stage for performances such as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and The Boy from Oz, Harrison has set a new fairy-tale benchmark for all of us westies who are still dreaming of an escape.

With an impressive resume in acting and a bulk of big names calling up his production company to take part here and there, it looks as if Harrison’s primary income from television adverts won’t be for too much longer.

Kudos to the man who managed to get further east than Strathfield and make a name for himself in front of some of his toughest critics. We’ve now got hope for the rest of us that Sydney’s elite won’t look at us as what they call bogan scum* anymore.

The Motherf*cker With the Hat will premiere at TAP Gallery in Darlinghurst on April 17 and flow on through till May 5. Tickets can be found at http://www.workhorsetheatreco.com/

* May in fact be a personal reflection and not that of any upper-class, snobbish** residents from the east.
** Also a personal reflection.