An Interview With
Writer and director of the 2018 Theatre Award Winning Show: ANYMAN
How long have you been an artist? Can you tell us a bit about your practice?
For a long time. I did my first Fringe play as a university student on campus, when I was 19. I think the longer you practise your craft, the more defined it becomes. I like to re-tell stories that provoke memory and experiences that are collective and unconscious. Through theatre, this exploration and these levels of meaning can simultaneously engage or challenge narrative that is relevant, contemporary and evocative.
Can you tell us a bit about your award-winning show?
I offered to volunteer at Shalom House. I had seen Peter Lyndon James on Australian Story, and the next day he literally walked past me in a door way. I offered to do some theatre work with the men, as a casual fun thing to do. After some discussion, he asked me to write a play. At first, I was concerned about writing something about addiction. A story of choices, which is what he wanted, that wasn’t going to be clichéd and frankly depressing. I read his text, Tough Love and thought that perhaps I could use part of it in an adapted way to ‘retell’ a story of addiction. I wrote scenes and poetry; used metonymic design, music and colour to capture what I believed was ‘their’ essence. It was a long process. I worked with 19 men for Shalom House, who shared with me their journeys and lives, full of hope and courage for 8 months, before I felt as though we had a message, a piece of theatre to share.
Has there been a particular show that has moved or inspired you?
There have been many shows that have done this. That is the marvel of theatre. It is experiential and present. In those moments, you feel with and make memory.
Can you tell us ABOUT A TIME WHERE YOU HAVE HAD AN AMAZING SHOW/ENCOUNTER WITH AN AUDIENCE MEMBER?
After each performance of Anyman 2018, people were moved. People innately believe in hope and when we witness it on stage, it stirs us on a level that is almost inexplicable. When we witness courage and truth, which are fragile entities in our world; people want to connect with that. Each night, the cast would meet the audience in the foyer and they would share stories. It was amazing. People wanted to tell me how they felt, what they learned, or how they were moved. Often through obvious emotion. I think the beauty and wonder of this was that in those moments, we, a group of strangers gathered and connected in a way; we belonged to each other. We all experienced our own woundedness. We can break and make terrible choices, but just as powerfully, we can, like the phoenix, come out of our own ashes.
I heard amazing things from people about their connection to addiction. Heart-breaking and raw. Each shared with honour, integrity and each given generously.
Do you have a favourite line in the show you can share with us?
‘Choices are fragile things…’
What are you working on now?
I have written, The Chook House. A different and funny exploration about women’s gossip. A fast paced, physical one act play. The ‘chook house’ is a term used by the women of a poultry packaging plant, stuck in the middle of rural Australia. The 5 women on stage; are representations of age, ethnicity and their gender. They talk and cluck, about the comings and goings of people and places. Although friends, their sense of humour and the incessant gossip tells the stories of friendship, secrets and the power of the tongue.
Fenceline Theatre Company is working on a piece that will share a story of hope that comes through a child’s belief. It will challenge us to look at our fragility.
Fenceline Theatre Company is Swan Christian College's school-based theatre that operates under the premise of creating ‘space for students to create’. The theatre company provides students and alumni with the opportunity to gain professional theatre experience.
What does it mean for you to be making work in WA?
As an artist, who can sharing their work in a festival, is brilliant and I am very grateful that we have it. I would encourage all creatives to get involved. Fringe is such an extraordinary opportunity.
What’s your favourite thing about FRINGE WORLD?
That it has created a ‘culture’ in Perth and WA for people to go and have a look, get involved. To buy a ticket and have an experience, seeing the world through different eyes, can only makes us richer. Edgar Degras says: ‘Art is not what you see, but what you make other see...’
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
A cat or a Bichon Frise puppy.