Freefall at PACT
An idyllic beach house. A burgeoning friendship. What Megan, Carmen and Millie gave Shane for his birthday was a holiday to remember. But the unexpected turn of events that follows will force this tight-knit group to question their relationships, friendships and future plans. An original and revelatory insight into the complexities of loving someone who sees the world so differently to us, Freefall asks provocative questions about love and death in a playful, candid and ultimately moving new Australian drama.
Rosie spoke to playwright Emily Dash about her new work and why we should be excited by PACT's 3x3x2 Festival. Read the full interview below:
What inspired the creation of Freefall, and what provocative questions do you hope to ask about love and death in this new work?
I wanted to represent diverse voices and stories, but initially I was interested in the dynamic between two people who love each other very much but are fundamentally very different in their approaches to life and the world - which is something I think a lot of people can relate to. It’s about how we compromise, and manage uncertainty. Love is beautiful, and challenging, but by no means simple - and nor is grief, so it was the best way to test that connection. In terms of the questions I am exploring, it’s about what is grief, how does it affect each of us, and perhaps more provocatively: how are we affected by the grief of others?
Freefall is not a true story, but it’s a very real story - and it’s a testament to hope, to honour a great many experiences and various people who are close to my heart.
The production of Freefall at PACT will mark the World Premiere of this new Australian drama. Why do you think PACT was the right place for your to develop and present this work?
PACT has always been a company that celebrates diversity, makes space for emerging artists to express themselves, and develop their own style. The legacy of then Artistic Director Katrina Douglas, the residency program was an amazing opportunity for me to find my voice as a playwright, and inspired me to blend more contemporary abstract elements into traditional theatrical structures. PACT took a chance on me, and I make the most of it every day.
Freefall is being presented as part of 3x3x2 Festival of New Works, a festival that supports the next generation of experimental performance makers. Why do you think initiatives such as this one are so important in fostering the emerging artist community?
It’s really important that emerging artists and creatives have opportunities - not only for high level professional development, but also to showcase that in front of a paying audience. I’m honoured to share the stage with the two other resident artists. The residencies were offered to us on merit, and something that makes 3x3x2 really special is that it just happens to be led by three women, including two queer artists, one disabled artist, and one indigenous artist. It showcases voices that are still not seen enough in the arts industry, and I want people to get excited by that.
3x3x2 describes Freefall as one of three boundary-pushing performances in the festival. How does Freefall push boundaries as a work? What do you hope to achieve with Freefall?
Freefall pushes boundaries in many ways - both in terms of style and language, and the topics it explores. I wanted to give different perspectives and start a conversation about things that most people shy away from - disability, sexuality, grief and mental health - and how they are interconnected. I have drawn from as much lived experience and consultation as I could in doing so, though I’m aware that I can’t represent everything. I’m excited to see what people think.
What has your experience as part of PACT’s two year residency been like under the mentorship of Lachlan Philpott and Alana Valentine? How have these mentors shaped your development as a writer?
I’d say that the mentorship aspect was one of the most beneficial and enjoyable parts of the whole experience, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I don’t take that for granted. Being able to engage with established artists like Lachlan Philpott and Alana Valentine in a professional capacity is invaluable. They are such different artists, and this diversity has helped me immensely. It would have been intimidating if they weren’t so lovely! Lachlan has been part of the journey at the beginning, and I had such a great connection with him as he encouraged me to keep momentum. Approaching Alana about halfway through the process, she offered great dramaturgical advice and knew the questions to ask to push me further and deeper.
My mentors are extraordinary artists, as well as exceptional people. Both have been great emotional support through an otherwise stressful process. They have made me a stronger and braver artist, and I hope our association will continue for a long time yet.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Prima Facie at Griffin Theatre
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Brisbane, Albury or Penang
Dream show to create?
I have a couple of ideas for shows that I want to create, but I’d love to be involved in another production of The Normal Heart
Plays or musicals?
It’s a close call - plays!
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Eating good food with friends, reading and watching trashy TV
What’s next for you after this show?
More playwriting - I’m keen to get started on my next few ideas!
Freefall opens at PACT as part of the 3 x 3 x 2 Festival of New Works on August 14. You can get your tickets here.