The One Sure Thing

This piece was originally published by ABC Open 10th January 2012.

ABC Open was archived in 2019.

 

I have an amazing life. This thought has struck me often over the years.

 

But no more so than as I was sitting on the steps of the idyllic Riversdale property in regional NSW spinning yarns with seventeen other emerging playwrights invited to attend Australian Theatre for Young People’s (ATYP) Fresh Ink National Studio Program.

Fresh Ink is one of ATYP’s babies, a program to identify, nurture and spotlight the next generation of Australian Writers. National Studio brought eighteen emerging writers all aged 26 or under (including lil ol’ me) together for a week of Masterclasses, group mentoring, one-on- one mentoring and dreaming time to craft eighteen 7-minute monologues.

The premise of the week is thus:

18 emerging writers brought together with 3 experienced writers as mentors and guides to support the newbies to craft a monologue appropriate for performance by a 17 year old using the theme of Death and Dying. 8 of the monologues to be chosen by ATYP for performance in February 2012 and to be published by Currency Press to boot!

So I started the week with the 3 hour drive to Adelaide, followed by a 6am flight to Sydney and an exciting car ride to ATYP’s home in Sydney where I was greeted by an array of colorful and exotic birds. My fellow writers and companions for the week. I’m exhausted already.

After the brief, expected introductions:

Where are you from? What do you do? Oh, I love that dress. Do you know such and such?

We pile onto an overly large coach for an almost 3 hour trek to Bundanon (near Nowra for those who know NSW) and the beautiful Riversdale property, our sanctuary for the week. Like most Australians I’m quick to doubt myself and undersell my skills. A few hours into our week long stay the doubts start to creep in…..

Perhaps there was another Alysha and they’d sent the invitation to me by mistake?

Perhaps they’d been a shortage of applications and they’d had to fill numbers?

Perhaps this was all a dream and I’d wake up at home with a headache and a stiff neck?

And so the sneaky nasty little thoughts started to cripple what I was writing….

We’re aiming for a reading of our works on Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday evening I have 43 documents open on my laptop. All of them covered with words I hate. I hate everything I’ve written since Monday. I’m not good enough. All these amazing and talented people. Nothing I write can possibly compete. Mine would never be chosen anyway. I’ve already decided. And so everything I write I hate. Because I’ve already judged it and discarded it before I’ve let the words hit the page.

Thursday morning. My monologue will be the first to be read tonight. I’ve got nothing. I meet with Peta Murray, my mentor, after lunch. She pins me with a steely gaze. Looks straight through all my bull shit and says “If I told you that what ever you write would win and would be beautiful and no one would judge it, what story would you tell? Go and write that story and then come back and talk to me”.

I go back to my room. Kneel by the bed with my laptop balanced precariously on the lumpy mattress.

I type. I type. I type.

My knees ache. I realize my face is wet. From tears. As it all comes gushing out of me. The pent up fear. The story I’ve stolen from myself.

Thursday night. One of my fellow actors reads my work so I can hear it. It’s not finished. I fidget. Uncomfortable. Hear all the jarring notes of a rushed piece of music. I look away from all the listening faces. Hide inside myself.

Friday. I type. I type. I type.

Saturday. We send our drafts to ATYP. To be chosen. To be discovered.

Wait anxiously. A week. A day over a week.

Now this. One new email. ATYP.

My monologue, titled ‘Ben Thomas, I love you’ has been chosen as part of Australian Theatre for Young People’s Showcase ‘The One Sure Thing’ opening Friday 3rd of February 2012 in Sydney to coincide with the publication of the monologues from ‘The One Sure Thing’ and last year’s showcase ‘Tell It Like It Isn’t’.

It’s ok to be afraid. It’s even ok to let the fear cripple you sometimes. But don’t stay there. Tell the story only you can tell, or no one else will.

More information: National Studio and ‘The One Sure Thing’

the yield of 2018: with gratitude

 

In 2017 I wrote three posts here, in 2018 I wrote none.

 

But I’m not dead. And I have been writing.

 

Throughout 2018 I wrote behind the scenes reflections and updates regularly over on Patreon, and in my dayjob, I wrote additional blogs over at The Dirt. I’ve also been chipping away at a YA fantasy novel project, two plays, some short stories and lots and lots of poems. So the words aren’t getting lost, they are just living in other places. I’m not going to promise to write more here in 2019, but I do intend to have a think about what I write and where I put it and that might mean some other bits appearing here. I guess we’ll see.

 

aug 2018 tiny twitter poem

This year due to Facebook changes I couldn’t autoshare my #tinytwitterpoem (s) anymore so I started screenshotting them and sharing them via Instagram through to Facebook instead. #tinytwitterpoem written Aug 2018.

 

I’ve been writing end of year/new year reflection posts for a few years now. I like the process of reflecting on what a year has contained. It helps me understand that space of time as a whole. It helps me see where I’m up to and where I’m heading and helps me check if I need to adjust anything.

And it helps me get perspective.

Especially on productivity and context and growth. I have that voice in my head – you might have one too – that niggles at me all the time with comments like “you’re not doing enough!”, “you’re so lazy”, “stop procrastinating” etc etc. Looking at the wholeness of a year helps give me perspective to push back against that voice. It’s not the only tool for pushing back against that voice, and not even the most important one, but it is useful and has a place.

 

2018 was a full and hectic year. Nic and I were both in new jobs, our smallest human started (and finished kindy) and our not so small human transitioned back to mainstream schooling after four years of home(un)schooling. We also bought (!!) our second house and moved back to regional South Australia. So there was a lot of change and adjusting to manage just on a practical day-to-day level.

 

june 6th vis arts 2018

I’m still chipping away at a uni (teaching) degree and this year I completed a visual arts unit (waaay out of my comfort zone). This is a snap behind the scenes (and in my new backyard) of a little film work I created for the final assignment. June 2018.

 

Alongside that we had a couple of big (new) things happening with people we love. They are their stories to tell but to give you a general sense those big things included cancer diagnoses, serious illness of children, mental health disruptions & challenges and more than one suicide attempt.

There was also a very serious incident* at Nic’s workplace this year, which although it didn’t directly involve him, did have a significant impact on many of the students in his care and his colleagues and did rattle him too. Those things can shake us and make us ask ourselves questions that are very hard to answer.

 

All of this took energy and had an emotional, mental and physical cost.

 

I ended the year tired.

 

simon in 2018

Simon (my car) and I traveled over 60,000 kms in 2018. Plus I traveled by plane to Sydney (peer assessing), Brisbane & Melbourne (to see Claire Christian’s Lysa & the Freeborn Dames and Nakkiah Lui’s Blackie Blackie Brown respectively), Ceduna (work), Newcastle (work + professional development) and Indonesia (final session of ARLP). I was on the road and away from home a lot.

 

 

I’m still tired.

 

But also feeling grateful. So grateful to love and be loved. So grateful that we have the resources and opportunity to walk beside and support our loved ones. So grateful to be at a point in my life where I feel the most competent and capable I’ve ever felt and where I have resources (skills, finances, time, networks) to back myself up. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared and don’t have doubts. I am scared, I do have doubts. I question myself and everything else all the time. But also underneath that I feel like I’ve got this. I can face the unknown. I can face the things that go wrong. I can face the ugly and painful cracks of my own history. I can learn and grow and live and cry and laugh and breathe and hurt and be okay.

 

2018 I think was the year I finally started getting okay with being bad at things. When I finally started to actually shed some of the old stories about myself (mine and others). When I finally felt like maybe, just maybe, I can do this terrible and precious thing called life.

 

Yield was my word for 2018. It was well-chosen, I think.

 

alysha by braidee otto taken 2018

Me, the day after the Carclew Dusk Arts Market @ Carclew House. Snap by Braidee Otto.  Nov 2018.

 

I’ve chosen a word for the past few years – as many others do** – as a way to set intention and give myself guidance for the year. I guess it’s a kind of New Years Resolution, although it’s not quite so direct. It is its own kind of tradition though and I like it. So I keep doing it.

 

In 2018 I felt safe and supported and well. And that seemed to trigger my brain to say ‘hey you, here’s a bunch of old hurts and history you’ve never dealt with, better feel it all now.” So 2018 was this weird space of joy and comfort and trauma and tears.

ARLP (and other things) really challenged me to face some of the stories I was telling about myself. And it’s time to keep doing the work of rewriting those stories.

 

So my word for 2019 is

 

Amend

verb

  • to put right
  • to change or modify (something) for the better
  • to alter
  • to reform oneself

 

textures in indonesia may 2018

A snap from my second (ever) visit overseas. This is a wall in Jakarta, I loved the textures. May 2018.

 

And just quietly – I’m not actively sharing this yet, so we’ll count this as a ‘soft launch’ – here’s (one of) my contribution/s to continuing to change and modify the Riverland for the better. Opening mid 2019. Tell your (Riverland) friends.

 

Let’s see what 2019 brings.

 

x

 

PS – I’ve decided this is my anthem for 2019 ( I haven’t seen the movie but my four-year old loves it and we listen to the soundtrack in the car, the whole soundtrack is super cute and sometimes I listen to it even when she’s not with me).

 

*It was widely reported on the news at the time and I don’t feel it’s appropriate, useful or necessary to rehash here.

** I was first introduced to choosing a word by Maxabella Loves. I can’t remember how I stumbled on her though!

 

A small selection of significant things/places/people that inspired me, shaped me, moved me, made me in 2018:

  • Mojo Juju, Native Tongue
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeymoon & The Break by Katherena Vermette (thanks to Tully Bates for inviting me to join bookclub)
  • Climate Century, Vitalstatistix
  • Patricia Piccinini
  • FELTspace, The Mill and Sister Gallery
  • D’Faces and Whyalla, especially Deb Hughes, Olivia White, Rob Golding & Ashlee Worger
  • Brianna Obst & Claire Glenn (all the things and the Never Endo Story)
  • Lysa and the Freeborn Dames by Claire Christian (LaBoite)
  • The Art Squad and Youth Arts Facilitator Hothouse (and all the people part of both)
  • ARLP C24 and our brief time together
  • The Ancient Bloods, in particular This Land (Acknowledgement Song)
  • The She-Ra Netflix reboot & Brooklyn 99
  • Sara Strachan and the Arts Front U30 Gathering in Newcastle
  • DEB by Catherine McNamara and Emily Moffat (at Crack X)
  • Chooks SA (the Facebook group and the movement)
  • Steakaction
  • Ella Winnall and Maz McGann, in general, but especially their campaigns for local gov.
  • Spoken Word SA (even though I didn’t get to many events)
  • the wind coming through my home office window in the evening
  • home.

 

And so many others. Thank you 2018.

 

 

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What did the wind taste of? Farewell 2017

 

I am an apostrophe, riddled with anxiety/ calmed by the spaces in between// #tinytwitterpoem #meetingpeople #publicface

 

Alysha performing at Adelaide Oval 2017

Reading my poetry at Adelaide Oval LIVE on 5, March 2017

 

In 2017, I only published three posts here on the blog, but gee, it was a big year.

 

In no particular order here are some of the highlights and the lowlights and the lessons and my chosen word to enter 2018.

 

Grief

 

2017 brought more loss and grief, compounding and highlighting the collection of loss we’ve been buffeted by in the past four years. The second half of 2017 gave us a welcome breather though and we made it nearly six months without having to talk about a funeral. One of my dear friends then lost her uncle just before the end of the year and while this particular death did not directly affect me, it brought all those bubbling feelings to the surface again. As did the parade of #timehop photos of lost loved ones that tend to crop up over Christmas/New Year. Grief is a hungry ocean.

 

That ocean has taught me a lot in the last few years.

 

About what I value, who I am and how I want to be in the world and 2017 was no different. In 2017, I continued to be inspired by the work of the Groundswell Project and the importance of conversations about death, dying and grief. I also attended ‘The Future of Death Salon’, an event hosted by Moira Deslandes Consulting in Adelaide, which gave me lots of ideas for hosting conversations within my own community about this and other topics. Brianna Obst and I continued to have meaty conversations exploring our personal relationships to suicide, euthanasia and who owns our lives and our deaths. These conversations and our long creative relationship has planted the seeds for a new play that I plan to begin work on in 2018.

 

Losing Faith in Unicorns

2017-05-18 16.26.43

Signage in front of the Losing Faith in Unicorns house, May 2017

In the first couple of weeks of 2017 things that had seemed so solid at the end of 2016 started to fall apart and everything felt like quicksand. As the Creative Producer I faced the possibility of pulling the plug on a project we’d been working on with a feisty group of teenagers since 2015.

 

Losing Faith in Unicorns was an immersive theatre experience in a house and we were programmed to present the work as part of the dreamBIG Children’s Festival. We’d secured a house late in 2016 but received the devastating news from the structural engineer that it didn’t pass muster early in 2017. With the clock ticking towards May and the project requiring time for the final purpose-fit design, install and rehearsal, I was freaking out. I rang and emailed well over a hundred individual real estate agents, organizations and other leads. Met dead end after dead end after dead end.

 

In the throes of my frustration and fear that we weren’t going to pull it off, I said to Nic “If we were in the Riverland, I’d have 5 fucking houses by now.” Because in the Riverland, I’d know who to ask, and the scale of the community means that people are more willing to get involved. Here in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, it mostly felt like shouting into the void. We have lovely, supportive little circles around us here, but the size of the community and it’s particular make-up means that it is so much more difficult to get messages out to the right people. To gather champions and circles of support.

 

We gave ourselves until the 8th of March to find a replacement house. We secured a house that week. It was owned by someone who lives in the Riverland and the real estate agent I made the initial contact with grew up in the Riverland and moved to Adelaide a few years ago. So there you go – even three hours away – the Riverland came through for me (thank you, thank you, thank you to Kay, Brenton and Tracey!).

 

So we did it. We created and presented an immersive theatre performance and installation in the very non-traditional space of a suburban house in Christies Beach. The final three general public shows sold out and we received beautiful written feedback like this from audience members:

 

“I was lucky enough to be in the bathroom when ”Sam” locked the door for the last time for that performance. How brave to lay herself on the line in such a small space. She was brilliant; raw, honest and touching. My daughter’s friend’s mother is dying of brain cancer, and to be able to share Sam’s monologue about her aunt’s death with her has since allowed for some difficult and truthful conversations, and a deepening of mine and my daughter’s relationship with her. This was one of the best pieces of theatre that I have seen. What a great platform for starting those tricky conversations with our teenagers.”

 

And to cap it all off, Kids Against Humanity and Losing Faith in Unicorns were one of four finalists for the 2017 Arts SA Ruby Awards in the Community Impact under $100,000 category. They didn’t win, but five of the crew attended the awards night and we were in some incredible company alongside the winners – Creating Coonalpyn (of the Coonalpyn Silo fame).

 

You can see a five minute insight into the project and performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeatjvyJ-P4&list=PL0IRgfhn-sEHdTrvGrdwVdAxTDKjNAUn_&index=6

 

This project had so much packed into it across its 18month journey. It was challenging and frustrating and joyous and powerful and the project and the young people who led it have taught me so much more than I can encapsulate here. I’m not the same because of it and the way I operate personally and professionally has been shifted and shaken and changed by them. I am supremely grateful to have had the opportunity walk beside them on this journey.

 

Australian Rural Leadership Program

Visitng Browns Brothers 2017

Behind the scenes at Brown Brothers Winery with ARLP, Feb 2017.

 

2017 included another three residential components of the 15month ARLP Program. Due to my prior commitment with LFIU I could not attend the overseas session in Indonesia in May with my cohort (23) but will be joining C24 in May 2018. 2017 included a week in North-East Victoria and a week in Canberra. ARLP has been a massive process for me right from the beginning with the two weeks in the Kimberley in 2016. 2017 ARLP for me saw a deepening of relationships and learning . Lots of fierce (and sometimes) difficult conversations, so much laughter and gratitude, some incredible and inspiring presenters, connections and lessons. It’s been an incredible experience and I am so very aware of what a privilege and a responsibility this investment is in me and my work.

 

Every participant of ARLP has to complete a written report for their sponsor (mine is the Australia Council) and this is some insight from my current draft:

 

“I feel that I have been especially lucky to be a participant of ARLP being from an arts background and being one of the younger members of our cohort, Course 23. At only 32, being surrounded and enveloped by our cohort has been incredibly inspiring, especially in the strong and amazing older women of our cohort who have made me feel so excited about what my future can hold and just in the incredible diversity of experience and perspectives across the entire cohort. I have felt like I am accessing this amazing bank of knowledge every time I am in the room with Course 23 and I feel very privileged to have access to that. One of the things that attracted me to ARLP as a leadership program was that it was not arts specific and that I would be participating with individuals from completely different industries and disciplines. This for me, has been one of the greatest benefits of ARLP. To step outside of the sometimes circular debates and conversations that happen in your own industry and be able to learn and reflect by talking and collaborating across industries has been invaluable.”

 

Manuscript Incubator

Watershed Feedback

Feedback from a fellow MI participant, August 2017

 

At the beginning of 2017 I signed up for the Writers SA Manuscript Incubator program. It was a year-long program incorporating a monthly writers group critiquing session and monthly craft workshops for 16writers working on the early draft of a novel. I worked on the early foundations for a novel that has its seeds in a draft play I wrote as part of mentorship with Caleb Lewis way back in 2012. I didn’t complete as much of the wordcount/meat of the novel as I’d hoped at the beginning of 2017 but I left 2017 feeling motivated and well equipped to continue developing the project.

 

The program was a pretty big investment for me – costing over $1000 for the year – but it was well worth it, and if you’re an aspiring writer, I would highly recommend it. I felt so supported and nurtured and welcomed into the Writers SA family (including getting the opportunity to travel to Mildura with Ali Cobby Eckerman to be in the room with her as she shared her skills with emerging writers there).

 

It was an absolute joy to spend a year with a group of fellow emerging South Australian writers, supported by Writers SA, and I am so glad I made the commitment.

 

Patreon

Alice Zine Drawing

A work in progress of Alice drawing in Rotary Park, November 2017

 

My Patreon circle is small but mighty in its impact. In 2017, my patrons collectively contributed $866 to my creative practice. This $866 directly contributed to commissioning Adelaide artist Alice Blanch as part of Manifold Portrait. Alice spent two days in Berri visiting Rotary Park and creating an artistic response. I am collecting the special something she has made from her tomorrow to deliver to Manifold Portrait next week – keep an eye on my Insta for a little sneak peek or sign up to the Patreon for patron-only posts. Which by the way, although I’ve been quiet here on the blog, I’ve created 47 posts on Patreon, most are patron-only, though a few are visible to general public and they are a mix of behind the scenes work-in-progress snippets, personal reflections, updates, vodcasts, e-zines and a few other bits and bobs.

 

As above, my Patreon circle have contributed financially and my posts there have been a way of keeping me accountable (to myself), but most importantly, these supporters – who are putting their actual, real money towards my creations – have been a huge source of encouragement and support. Knowing they believe in me and want to actively support and follow my work has been the biggest gift this year. Thank you Jesse, Kerrie, Ryan, Gemma, Rebecca, Sam, Kimberlee, Andria, Nic and Nic. You are all bloody gems.

 

You can find the Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/lylyeeoftheriver

I’m keeping the regular rewards the same but I am toying with the idea of revamping the goals and their special reward this year.

 

Heartland

Alysha at WOMAD better version

Hard at work with the Carclew team at WOMAD, March 2017

 

I’m going home. At the end of 2017 (October) I nabbed a brand-spanking-new dream job as the Creative Producer, Youth for Carclew and Country Arts. It’s new jointly funded position between the two organisations and the role is dedicated to nurturing creative experiences and opportunities for young people living in regional South Australia. I’m bloody stoked. It’s a promotion (money wise), my contract includes a car (yeah!) but most importantly the J&P said ‘the successful applicant will be based in a regional location, to be negotiated’. So Nic worked his guts out and nabbed himself a teaching position back in the Riverland and we are going home to be embedded in our community of extended family, friends, challenges and opportunities. I could not have ended 2017 feeling any more excited and grateful.

 

And while I am sad to say goodbye to ExpressWay Arts and to see that project come to an end, in other brilliant news, Carclew and City of Onkaparinga made a new commitment to support Kids Against Humanity with a 1.5day a week Creative Producer. So there will be some continuing legacy of that work and Kids Against Humanity in particular. Claire Glenn who was their weekly facilitator has taken on that new role (and you can read a recap of everything we achieved in the four and a half years I was Creative Producer of ExpressWay Arts here: http://carclew.com.au/Program/ExpressWay)

 

Other bits and bobs of note

Hopgood Theatre Rehearsal

Rehearsal of Tattle Tale, August 2017

  • I wrote and supported a short film and some attached scenes for a Shine SA sexual health project with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in collaboration with Jessica Wishart.
  • I was the recipient of the 2017 Arts South Australia Geoff Crowhurst Memorial Ruby Award
  • Managed to write 37,157 words during NaNoWriMo
  • Participated in the Operation Move 12-week Learn to Run Program and continued to make regular running a part of my life
  • Sold hand-made zines of words I’d crafted at one of Zombie Queen’s official Zine Swaps
  • Participated in a five week song-writing course (which seems small if you don’t know the backstory to why I was afraid of it) and have since written three songs that are meaningful to me
  • Presented a work in progress with the very excellent Sara Strachan and other collaborators at Crack Theatre Festival in Newcastle
  • Had two wisdom teeth removed the same week I was the opening speaker for the 2017 District 9520 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
  • Ticked off another two units of my never ending double degree (which I commenced mid-2008 and have been studying externally via CDU)
  • Completed a bunch of e-courses in various business and arts things which I found super helpful (including Laura Milke Garner’s Artist Bootcamp)
  • Started a peer-mentoring process with Petra Szabo and her fledgling company Potential Kinetics Theatre
  • Had my first overseas visit! I went to Singapore for a couple of days as a presenter at a Youth Arts Symposium with the CE of Carclew.
  • Wrote and performed more poetry, facilitated more workshops, spoke at more things, ate lots of food, had lots of naps, visited the beach with my children, snapchatted and messaged with my friends and family, lived and learned and breathed and cried and hoped and discovered.

 

Toddler Feet 2017

My daughters little feet and hands, 2017

 

And because so much of this post is about the things that went right, here’s some words from a patron-only post I shared back on 3rd May 2017:

 

Oh my loves. I’m tired this week. Tired in that way where your face hurts. Tired in that way where you crave sugar and a warm blanket. Tired in that way where the littlest things leave you on the edge of tears.

 

 

Yesterday I dropped my phone and the screen cracked. It’s not the worst I’ve seen but the cracks are in just the right spot to make it difficult to view photos, which is terrible timing for promoting Losing Faith in Unicorns on social media (the show opens in two weeks from tomorrow!). Today I ripped my favourite pair of pants. Right through the inside seam and across the back of my left thigh. I’m still wearing them but they’ll never be acceptable for public viewing again.

 

 

I’m tired and worn thin. By big things and little. By the world and by my world and by my self. And I’m okay, because I know these times are only temporary, because somewhere along my journey I got the taste for hope and now it never leaves me even when I feel like I’m splitting at the seams. So I’m okay. But part of being okay is also sharing that sometimes okay is not being okay. Sometimes okay is struggling and being tired and teary and worn out and full of doubts. Because we all feel that way sometimes. Because that’s part of living a full, rich life too.

 

 

A word for 2018

May 8 Floordrobe

With my floordrobe, May 8th 2017

 

I choose a word every year. As a frame, a lens, a direction to pursue. In 2017 my word was mobilise. I was struggling to decide on a word for 2018 and Nic was throwing out random suggestions, one of them was ‘yield’ and in response, laughing I said, ‘I never yield’.

 

But I got to thinking about what a great word yield is and how it has layers of meanings that feel so right for me in entering 2018.

 

So there you go.

 

Yield

 

verb

 

  • produce or provide (a natural, agricultural, or industrial product).
  • produce or generate (a result, gain, or financial return).
  • give way to arguments, demands, or pressure.
  • relinquish possession of.
  • (of a mass or structure) give way under force or pressure.

 

 

See you in 2018, dear hearts.

 

x

 

 

A small selection of the things that shaped me, inspired me and moved me in 2017:

 

  • A.B Original, Reclaim Australia Album (special mention to ‘I Could Be Dead in a Minute)
  • Electric Fields, Nina (from the Inma EP)
  • Jessica Wishart, My Black Boy EP
  • Vitalstatistix, Adhocracy & Rebecca Meston’s Drive showing/artist talk
  • Restless Dance Theatre, Intimate Space
  • Emily Steel (writer) & Daisy Brown (director), 19 Weeks & Rabbits
  • Paul Gazzola with various artists and the City of Onkaparinga, SUE
  • The Vampire Diaries on Netflix, and no, I’m not joking (maybe I should write about this?)
  • Learn to Run Program, Operation Move
  • Binder of Australian Women Writers FB Group
  • Writers SA (formerly SA Writers Centre)

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Zero Feet Away: An experience

My love and I have ten minutes to find the venue and we’re lost. As we back track up Hindley street, we see a familiar face pop out of an alleyway and relief washes over me. We’ve found it. The alleyway is framed by posters for the show on either wall. I don’t know how we missed it. Others arrive at the same time we do, unexpectedly they are familiar faces that fill me with affection.

We are handed an instruction sheet to choose our nickname and log in to the show app. We make our nicknames and they wave us through. Down the alleyway and we swing left, down stairs and into a small room scattered with chairs. There is a small bar to the right and another small room with chairs. We can buy drinks at the bar and we continue to stumble into some of my favourite people as the venue fills up. We picked a good night to attend.

People gather in groups, some sitting on the scattered chairs and some standing, everyone waiting for the show to start. We pick out the actors by the small microphones taped along their jaws, they are dotted among us. The room has white sheets taped at various locations, we see the rolling projection of audience nicknames appear. We try to match nicknames with new people coming in. The projections match the app screen appearing on our phones. We’re all logged in and ready for whatever this is going to be.

Throughout the show I stand, I sit, I stand again. I eat crisps. I drink coke. I laugh. I cry. I feel the weight of sadness, of grief, of collective shame, of joy, of hope.

Technology is rough and ready, gritty with texture, projection sheets are slightly crooked, projectors are installed in milk crates. Actors look like me. Actors look nothing like me. Actors tell their own stories. Actors tell other people’s stories. Ushers are audience, are wait staff, are aware. Music is quiet, barely noticed but powerful, perfect, necessary. Audience can interact with their phones, or not. The phone app creating a tweet-stream like back channel, another way to listen, to learn, to question, to contribute.

This is the theatre I want more of. This is the theatre that I want to make more of. This is the theatre that I want to see more of. This is the theatre that I want there to be more of. Theatre that tells stories of here and now. Theatre that moves me. Theatre that reminds me. Theatre that pokes and prods. Theatre that unites and celebrates. Theatre that closes my throat with hurt. Theatre that fills my fingertips with hope. Theatre that is not perfect, does not try to be perfect. Theatre that is contextual and nuanced. Theatre that doesn’t have all the answers but has some offers. Theatre that takes me to old places in new ways or to new places in familiar ways. Theatre that does neither and both all at once.

It might not be your cup of tea, it might have a completely different effect on you. That’s okay. Not everything is for everyone.

 

*

 

ActNow Theatre

Zero Feet Away

January 25-28 2017

Ancient World

 

Director, Developer and Performer –
Edwin Kemp Attrill

Associate Producer –
Chiara Gabrielli

Devisors and Performers –
Matilda Bailey, Melissa Maidment, Jamila Main, Jason Masiglia

Composer and Musician –
Matthew Gregan

Lighting Design and Technician –
Alexander Ramsay

 

 

Breeding hurt: A statement in the now

From my experience, it’s very satisfying to hurt someone that has hurt you.

I don’t want to be that person ever again.

That doesn’t mean being silent. It doesn’t mean accepting or condoning. It doesn’t mean ignoring. It doesn’t mean that I won’t or shouldn’t fight. It doesn’t mean I won’t defend myself or others.

It does mean it’s not perfect. It does mean I have no clear answers, responses, solutions. It means I have only questions.

But I don’t want to be the person who deliberately seeks to hurt anyone for any reason. I don’t want to be the person who gains joy or satisfaction from hurting anyone, even the worst among us.

That is not the person I want to be.

I looked in the mirror and faced that and I don’t ever want to be that person again.

It’s not a reflection on anyone else and their way through difficulty, sometimes we do just have to kick and scream until the darkness bleeds. Sometimes we do have to compromise our deepest held values and selves. Sometimes we have to sacrifice everything we want to be for a bigger gain.

And truly, I probably will have to compromise my own integrity in the future again too.

I don’t know.

But I’ll have to weigh it with myself. With who I know I want to strive to live up to. And so I’m naming it. The thing I don’t want to become.

This is just me thinking out loud, with the circles that surround me, because we all have to wrestle with these choices and make our own answers. Reconcile our own journeys. Its not an absolute thought or a conclusion of any kind. It’s a feeling my way through the murk.

I share, not because I think I’m right, I’m more lost and weighted with doubts than anything else, I share because other people’s sharing helps me. So maybe my sharing of the mess and the wading through can have value for someone else.

 

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I wrote this as a facebook status on January 23rd 2017. I am publishing it here so I can easily find it again as a reminder to myself, later.