In late 2018, MWT’s Brooke Fairley interviewed the six MWT writers whose work had been selected for The Melbourne Monologues, which ran from 27th November – 2nd December at La Mama Courthouse. Below, these writers talk about their writing, their creative process, and the inspiration for their scripts.
Q & A with BRUCE SHEARER ‘Angry Dancing’
Q. Bruce, is it your preference to write monologues or do you typically write in other styles?
I like to write poetry, plays and short stories, but I have always enjoyed writing monologues as well. It is an interesting challenge portraying theatrical works with just one actor. I find that the material often selects the form and it is also interesting to adapt material into other forms.
Q. There’s something primal about Angry Dancing. Where did the concept of catharsis through dance come from?
Dance opens up all sorts of theatrical options when it is combined with the spoken word and in this Monologue it is all about letting go into the healing of the dance.
Q. Rawl is a flamboyant character. Do you expect the audience to feel confronted or encouraged by his rhetoric?I want the audience to feel the power of Rawl and the willingness of the character to challenge, confront, tickle and test them, while teasing out and exposing some of their own issues.
Q & A with ALISON KNIGHT ‘The Unspeakable Beauty of Falling’
Q. Alison, what is your preferred style of writing?
I’m not sure I have a preferred style. I range from quirky comedies to darker psychological pieces, usually laced with a liberal dose of black humour. This monologue, however, is more reflective in style and not at all funny – or at least I hope not!
Q. The Unspeakable Beauty of Falling is a thought provoking monologue. What inspired it?
I was fascinated by the 9/11 photograph of the Falling Man, haunted particularly by the contrast between the aesthetic qualities of the shot and the reality of the Man’s appalling experience. When he leapt from the North Tower, he knew he would fall, but did he still hope to evade death somehow by flying? How could I relate this to my own experiences and to those of others?
Q. You draw parallels between abandonment and falling. Where did this idea come from?
As a child, I longed to fly, though even then I realised flying offered both the promise of exhilaration and the possibility (probability?) of falling, of failure. I wanted to explore this duality in both literal and metaphorical terms. It’s about having the courage to take a leap irrespective of the outcome – and sometimes you’re left to face the challenge on your own, without a safety net. I find a certain beauty in heroic failure.
Q & A with NEIL McGOVERN ‘Sometimes’
Q. Sometimes is a very lyrical monologue. what inspired it?
A touch of my lips, as I began to drift, and to think, and to realise just what I was doing.
Q. Is it fair to suggest that it is about the desire to connect deeply with other people and a reluctance to admit to this?
Yes. I’d say the desire to connect deeply with yourself and with other people, alongside the fear
of being mis-understood. A touch of the lips can be a reminder that, essentially, we are sensual
beings but, unfortunately, sensuality can be a mis-guided term for some…sometimes.
Q. The character in Sometimes is entirely without description. Is this because you want it to be open to interpretation, because you can imagine almost anyone having those desires, or for another reason entirely?
Again your question makes a great answer for me. I believe there is a touch of sensuality in all
of us, which is interpreted in the various ways that each of us have.
Q & A with BROOKE FAIRLEY ‘3 out of 9’
Q. This is a rich and energised piece of writing. It has a poetic, spoken word quality to it. Is this your usual writing style?
No. Well, sometimes. Admittedly, it wasn’t by design, it just kind of happened that way. When I realised that there was potential for alliteration and rhyming etc, I just went with it.
Q. Your protagonist is a cat. Was it a challenge to get inside a cat’s head, or did it come easily to you?
She’s some kind of hybrid, perhaps human examining life through the prism of a cat. It’s pretty abstract, and best not to consider too literally. I’ve had a cat who had kittens. I know how they behave, so I suppose it was quite easy.
Q. What has writing this script taught you about yourself, the things that give you pleasure and the things you think you need?Writing gives me pleasure – when it works! It’s taught me not be self-conscious about writing truthfully, that I need a new pillow, and that I can pull writing out of my a#%e at the last minute when I put my mind to it.
Q & A with CHRISTINE CROYDEN ‘The Diamond Bracelet’
Q. Christine, what inspired you to write a period piece?
The Diamond Bracelet is a monologue from my new play UNDERGROUND, which is opening on International Women’s Day in 2018 at Gasworks in Melbourne, then touring. It’s part of Nancy Wake’s backstory, set during WW2 in France during the German occupation. Sabine is a German undercover agent and cabaret artist, who has been sent into a French Resistance circuit to gather information and kill.
Q. Your character Sabine in The Diamond Bracelet could be painted as villain or victim. How did you imagine she might be interpreted?
Yes, she is an ambivalent young woman living during one of history’s darkest periods. And as she was born German she’s on the wrong side of history but she is a thinking, feeling human being, and I want to explore the complexity of that.
Q. Your use, and choice, of song is an evocative tool. Do you often use music in your writing?
Yes. I always use music and lyrics in my plays and I enjoy writing lyrics myself. Marlene’s Dietrich’s version of ‘Falling in love again’, written by Friedrich Hollaender, is one of my favorites from this period. A period that I have spent many years researching both the history and music of, especially in Paris last year while I was working with a French theatre company. The title of the song in German is ‘I am, from head to toe, ready for love’, which I prefer as it is more present and passionate, but it will be sung in English for this production. I am very much looking forward to seeing what Elizabeth Walley, our director, and her daughter Isabella Gilbert do with this piece.
Q & A with MARTIN RICE ‘The Charon’
Q. Death and the death of a loved one is such a difficult topic to consider as deeply as you have in The Charon. Was the writing process a difficult one?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult. After the death of my Father, I felt that there were many positive experiences to be had from seeing death up close and that I wanted to express that. I hope the monologue comes across this way.
Q. There are so many metaphors in The Charon that fit together so nicely. Where did the idea of the beard come from?
As a bearded man myself, I had written a little about the subject but everything seemed to fall in to place after I read about the ‘Charon’ the ferryman of Hades who transports the dead across the river styx. It fit y purpose nicely.
Q. Alex is very introspective. Is this typical of the characters you write or a by-product of the theme of the piece?
I think a lot of my writing is introspective, but Alex is certainly so. This also has to do with trying to make sense of death, and also as a result of the monologue being made up of different parts from a much longer piece.