It would appear that it never rains but it pours when it comes to work for your average Australian actor, something Caroline Craig knows only too well.

When Sydney Star Observer spoke to the acclaimed star of stage and screen, she was midway through a full day of rehearsals for the new production, Optimism. After each day’s intensive rehearsals, she’d dash off to Melbourne’s Arts Centre to perform in the wedding comedy Secret Bridesmaid’s Business.

It’s insane, I’ve never done anything like this before, said a slightly frazzled-sounding Craig about the experience of rehearsing one play during the day and performing another at night.

I’m enjoying the ride. I’m not getting much sleep, but I’ve made a little bed in the theatre. I have a little snooze on my yoga mat between rehearsals, like a cat.

Having too much work is hardly the worst career problem an actor can face.

That’s right, you can’t really complain when you’re working. And I actually love working like this -” I’m prone to worrying about things, so it’s better to just jump in and do it, when you don’t have time to over-analyse.

While Craig is most well-known for her TV work, including roles in Underbelly and Blue Heelers, she’s also a veteran of the stage.

At the moment I love theatre. It’s much more immediate, and I love the continuity -“ you’re on stage at 8 o’clock and you’re on that journey for the night. But I do love TV because it pays well, she laughed.

Optimism, based on Voltaire’s classic Enlightenment satire Candide, features an impressive cast, including Alison Whyte and comedian Frank Woodley.

I’m really enjoying working with Frank -” it’s comedy capers, Craig said.

Woodley plays Candide, the hero of the piece, while Craig is his love interest, assisting him in his search for a meaningful, fulfilling life.

He’s on an existential journey to find happiness. He’s got this optimistic view of the world, but it’s tested at all turns. It’s like The Odyssey in a way, but much lighter and funnier. We’re in a clown world, an unreal world. It’s kind of a chaotic fairytale, she explained, before adding rather tantalisingly: There’s yodelling involved.

Yodelling Voltaire? It’s just another in a long line of innovative interpretations of classics staged by the Malthouse, including recent adaptations of Woyzeck and The Women Of Troy.

I think that’s what’s wonderful about the Malthouse -” they’re dedicated to doing interesting interpretations of classics and putting new spins on them to make them accessible and engaging.

The ideas that Voltaire looks at are universal: we’re always going to be asking -˜What is a good life?’, and this is just a really interesting way of looking at it. More than anything, it’s a lot of fun.

info: Optimism is coming to Sydney in 2010 as part of the Sydney Festival.

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