City of Yarra/Malthouse/Playwriting Aus Exploration Day 1 Phase 4

Eva Sifis

This aspect of the arts holds endless fascination and interest for me; the ability to revisit projects over the space of years in order to re-develop and find a shape contoured by the progression of one another’s lives, the evolution of circumstances.

Meeting this time in the shrouded Tower room, the gloom was not reflected in the brightness of folly apparent in the admirable job the 3 playwrights have wrought from the 90 hours (?) of discussion recorded over the 4 week long explorations carried out so far. Starting in February 2015, the original project commissioned by the City of Yarra has found the interested support this year of the Malthouse Theatre and also Playwriting Australia. With these esteemed partners we now launch into the final stages of forming this work to be.

Our group sat around a table be-spread with a number of piles of scripts. I think the excitement glinted from everyone’s eyes as we took a breath and recounted our memories of past weeks worth of work. While investigating the possible meanings, we allowed ourselves an insight in to the massive amount of work already achieved.
Layer upon layer of suggestion and intonation, the results are less specific in nature and will require some attention to translate. This is something to look forward to, something for the audience to sink their teeth in to.

We discussed the occasions where things have gone ‘wrong’ in our improvisations, the resulting value of uncovering the layers where we witness the human condition. This has led to the forming of, (as I have mentioned before in a former description of our processes) a virtual Russian Doll ‘bastardry’ of structure. Titillating stuff! Groundbreaking in nature, layers of questioning, of critiquing and of performing will be apparent, posing an inquiry in to who has the right to perform.

Making the necessary changes whilst familiarising ourselves with the script, storyline informed by the recordings, we found ourselves changing the order of lines and altering who delivered them at times. The work flips the social paradigm of disability, reversing the ‘gaze’ of which those with disability are so familiar. Subversion all round! Lovely!!

The discussion turned as we tested options for possible direction. Speaking about the value of acquiring impairments versus the typical societal view of Disability = Bad, there was a blurring, a leaking of the strata belonging to performance. Shifting our everyday societal reactions is an introduction complex in nature but curious in that nobody has ever thought of this before. I suppose change is a gradual thing and here our exploration stands, at the vanguard.

Times are a-changing and Authentic Representation is indicative of this. There is a sense of responsibility. We have to take people there, to a place where able bodied actors mimicking physical disabilities are replaced by disabled actors taking any role they wish to tackle. Any role, not just disabled roles. Our offering is an invitation for the audience to imagine other realities, to imagine a ‘utopic’ world where anyone can play anyone else, regardless of physical condition.
Here we realise that it is better for us to go for the obvious examples of ‘cripping up’ rather than entering the minefield of nuance. Baby steps for a concept yet in it’s infancy in the non-disabled world, it’s important for us to go for really juicy bits to hammer home the message.

Here I would like to invite you, the Melbourne based readers of this, to the showing where push comes to shove for the ongoing nature of this project to be placed under lights, on stage at the Malthouse, for all to see. This work is about sometimes being confused and that’s okay. This is super advanced work reflecting the super advanced thinking we want the world to do. I, for one, cannot wait for the moment the coin drops in our audiences’ consciousnesses.

Please, come to watch the result of the amazing democratic process the making of this play has been.

In the Tower Room at the Malthouse Theatre, Southbank Friday 10th November at 2pm. As the audience has been capped at 60 people, get in quick!…

A couple of quotes from the day made by our dedicated director David Woods;
“Ugly human instinct to oppress those who are seen as weaker than you”
“Imagination champions over the Gate Keeping”