Category Archives: Writing

Dear Future Resident

As part of the Barmera Centenary celebrations this year (2021), I wrote a letter to a future resident of Barmera. I submitted the letter to the time capsule buried this afternoon (which was originally going to be be buried for 100 years but has now been changed to 50 years at community request) and I am publishing a copy of the letter here on my personal blog.

Image and text below.

31st March 2021

Dear future resident,

I will be long-dead by the time you read this, my children too, but perhaps grand-children or great-grandchildren of mine will be sharing this place with you. I am thinking of you today, future Barmera resident, whoever you are. Thinking of the future you will live in and the choices I am making to try and build that future for you.

I’ve been reading predictions and guesses by futurists for a project that I am currently working on and they imagine a future of sea-level rise, food scarcity, innovation and technological advancements. In worst case scenarios of sea-level rise, Barmera will one-day be swallowed by an inland sea, though that should still be a distant threat even in your future 100 years from now.

Perhaps you live in a future with such advanced prosthetic limbs that people remove healthy arms and legs to install superior ones? Body upgrades are one of the futures I’ve been reading about. It’s hard to imagine now, but perhaps it’s real in your world. Perhaps it’s made the world more equal and fair for people born with disabilities – if we can remake our bodies, surely we can remake our perspectives too? Surely in your world we can finally understand and celebrate and make space for peoples from all backgrounds and skills and personalities. Surely racism, homophobia, ableism and all the other biases we use to hurt each other can be reimagined and erased.

100 years feels like forever but I know it’s not. Your world probably does look and feel very different to mine in some ways, but there are shadows and memories your world will still carry from mine, things that perhaps will not have changed as much as I might hope. I know that. I do. But I hope all the same that you have inherited the best possible future we could give you.

Perhaps Barmera has disappeared or shrunk by the time you read this, but I hope some of the joy I’ve had here is still there for you. I hope the Bonney Theatre is still standing and that people still gather there to tell stories. The Bonney Theatre is the place I first performed to a paying audience, in a show called Random Girls with Riverland Youth Theatre and Vitalstatistix in 2005. That show, that experience, changed my life. It saved me and gave me a future I didn’t know I was allowed to want. I hope that you have the opportunity to sit quietly in the dark within its walls and be transported, changed and inspired.

I hope you can still stand on the edge of the lake and watch the sun set over the water as your chest fills with joy the way it does for me. I hope you fight for what you believe in. I hope you love fiercely and fully. I hope your future is bright and bold and possible. I hope that we didn’t let you down.

With all my love

Alysha Herrmann

Chief Storyteller & Co-founder

Part of Things

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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’

Another Elusive Maybe

AEM promo image 1

“Amidst all the rabble about the true meaning of Fringe, I can tell you that this is it. Real art that pushes the boundaries – art that is completely different to anything you’ve experienced before.” Jen St Jack, Great Scott

 

Every show performed in a different lounge room. A one woman theatre experiment asking “How can we feel so alone surrounded by people who love us?”

 

“The sound of a baby crying

The sound of a kettle boiling

The sound of a dog howling

The sound of a closing door”

 

 

Another Elusive Maybe was a performance experiment presented as part of the Adelaide Fringe 2016. Each ‘show’ was presented in a different (real life) lounge-room for a maximum of 8 people per show. The performance incorporated poetry & soundscape (via silent disco headsets), live text message conversations (with each individual audience member) and expressing breast milk.

 

What does motherhood, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and mummy worries have to say about how we all connect in a world overloaded with sorrow?

 

“Nine people – performer and audience – sit in a suburban lounge room. We are ostensibly together, hearing the same words and seeing and doing the same things. We are intimate, and yet, we are isolated.” – Jenn St Jack, Great Scott

 

“There are so many simple, yet sophisticated layers to this wonderfully human work providing deep food for thought about the issues Herrmann set out to explore and experiment on. You feel comforted by what you hear, because the delivery takes the sting out of the real struggle those words are dealing with, as much as you love the genuine warmth and joy there too. Equally, because of this, you feel at ease anonymously having a frank and honest discussion about some deep things. You are in a comforting place known to most, a lounge room.” – David O’Brien, The Barefoot Review

 

Anonymous audience feedback (via text message)

“A BIG WoW!!! Thankyou!!! Really made me think….and feel! x”

“Wow. I’m literally blown away by how you guys create art. Like what makes you think this is the way I want to perform this story!! Yes well job well done!!! I hope you feel proud to try and make your way through this fucked up beautiful world!!”

“I really enjoyed it and I think I talked to my partner about it longer than it went for. I read the whole leaflet afterwards. Even yesterday. And that’s the thing with art and with what you did, you don’t know how long it lasts or when it takes hold. (….) I like that you talked about what we (I) think about. (…) Thanks again, so much for the inspiration. You at least made a difference here.”

“How do you this with kids? It must nearly break you surely. I feel like crying right now. From inspiration and appreciation, sadness for what I’m not doing. (….) Thank you for sharing. I loved and appreciated it. Hugely.”

“Impressed with your ability to maintain mulit threads of convo. I keep forgetting to listen while typing/reading. Which in itself is interesting..”

“This (your performance) is the strangest combination of intimate yet distant, personal yet remote, familiar yet unusual. Fascinating.”

“Very tightly structured, rich, densely packed with poetic fantasy and reality.”

 

audience feedback image

 

Another Elusive Maybe

By Alysha Herrmann & Ryan Morrison

Public season, Adelaide Fringe 2016

16 & 23rd February, 8th March

Various lounge rooms.

Another Elusive Maybe Program Zine PDF

Listen to the headset audio from AEM: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2q9aa1fwf80rmvo/Another%20Elusive%20Maybe%20%28Final%20Draft%29.mp3?dl=0

 

Interview with The Upside News, which sheds light on the impetus and ideas behind Another Elusive Maybe: https://theupsidenews.com/2016/02/11/interview-another-elusive-maybe-the-fringe-show-in-your-lounge-room/

Great Scott Review by Jen St Jack: http://greatscott.media/2016/03/09/another-elusive-maybe/

The Barefoot Review by David O’Brien:http://www.thebarefootreview.com.au/menu/theatre/119-2014-adelaide-reviews/1292-another-elusive-maybe.html

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A gathering of sticks and stones #poetry #thedirtythirtychallenge #fire

 

A gathering of sticks and stones:

 

I see the strain in your hunched shoulders little love

Your crouched knees show me everything

Eye to eye we curl into each other

My fingers reach towards you

Flickering and clean

But you –

   Retreat.

 

*

 

Dirty Thirty Day 23 Prompt:

Write a poem from the perspective of a natural element ie. water, fire, earth etc., or a force of nature, for instance, a hurricane, earthquake, tornado etc.
The clincher: the poem gets shorter with each line.

 

The Dirty Thirty Challenge is one poem a day for the thirty days of April. Dirty Thirty prompts are from ‘The Dirty Thirty Challenge’ facebook group (admins). Poems published here are my own unless otherwise specified.

Light #poetry #lovestory #marriage #home

Light:

It spreads.
Inching it’s way across my smile. Across the lines around my mouth and the old tightness in my jaw. Curling into the moment of skin where my ears touch my face. Tickling its way up into my hair, ghost fingers of joy. Undeniable.
It spreads.
Whenever I look at you. Whenever you look at me.
It spreads.
In time. In space. In this.
It spreads.

 

*

 

Prompt – ‘freewrite friday”

Conjoin #oldflame #poetry #thedirtythirtychallenge

 

Conjoin:

 

Dear Him.

 

How many years now?

 

How many years have we folded into the secrets that time is made of?

 

My secrets.

Yours.

A bibliography of dreams untouched by truth. We seeded something though, you and I. In dark corners and deep dreams. In silliness and fire skin. In spiky grass and houses made of dust. In teenage legs and adult eyes. In too many truths and not enough sighs.

 

In windows that were too dirty to see through. I always stood looking out. Hands on hips. Words on lips.

 

And saw/

 

I made you into a troubadour. A perfect warrior poet. All muscles and skin and letting me – only me – in.

 

And

 

We seeded something, you and I. A poppy seed dream. An unlined seam. A sparkle in a stream. My feet cracked the banks and I looked down to see/

 

 

/I was losing me.

 

I don’t remember the last time.

 

The last time that I loved you.

 

But I remember the first.

 

Its skeletal remains a wind chime in my memory

Bones that scream and sing in the wind

Tones that make beauty taste like maybe

Love taste like I didn’t know how perfect I could be

Yesterday taste like salad without dressing

Today taste like tomorrow taught me how to roar

 

I stopped loving you. Because I started loving me.

 

Because that little seed of spinach made me taste a different song. A song that leads me on. And on. And on. And on.

 

It’s a song that tastes like grateful. A song with your son’s eyes. A song with my laugh.

 

How many years now?

 

How many more?

 

To find the peace I came for?

 

From Her.

 

*

Another Dirty Thirty poetry prompt:

Day Twenty One

Write a love letter to an old flame.
The catch? To make sure it doesn’t sink to a sea of sappiness, try to use 1 or more of the following word/phrases in the poem:
poppy seed, bibliography, troubadour, skeletal, spinach, conjoin

Adopted #thedirtythirty #poetrychallenge #poetry

 

Adopted

 

He is –

 

 

Murky breaths and midnight toenails

Perfect Tai Chi in between the walls

Headlight free and Sunday solid

He bends I told you so’s into spoons

 

 

                         – made in his mother’s image.

 

 

Silent in a father’s absence.

Light feet on cold floors

Old dreams starting new wars

Nothing in a name –

 

 

He’d like to ask. He doesn’t.

 

 

– but shame. Woven into brickwork clusters.

Filling in cardboard carpets and red flags.

A dented screen, a captured queen.

A ticking secret on the other end of an Instagram like.

 

 

He swallows.

He bends.

He –

 

 

                   – is.

 

 

*

Prompt: Free write Friday.

And then #thedirtythirty #poetrychallenge #micropoetry

Day 14 Dirty Thirty Prompt was to write a tiny poem.

 

Your challenge is to experiment with brevity so much that it nearly destroys you.

 

Micro poetry is my favourite form. #tinytwitterpoem (s) being my medium of choice.

Today’s poem:

 

*

 

Still falling.

 

*

 

 

Day Eleven. #thedirtythirty #poetrychallenge

 

The heel holds the world together.

Sweat stained upper lip.

Moustache dream.

 

Fingers made into mountains.

Uncurl today.

This, then.

 

Eyebrows pierced, hungry now.

For laughter,

joy.

 

Knit watercolour

Made new.

 

Swelled sound mouths drown

Now.

 

We sleep full.

 

We weep.

 

I.

 

*

 

Day 11 Dirty Thirty Prompt

Write a poem about the Deadly Sin you feel you’re guilty of most but without telling us what it is.

 

So guesses- which Deadly Sin am I most guilty of?