Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club at Ensemble Theatre
This week Carly had the immense pleasure of speaking with with Liz Arday, winner of the 2018 Sandra Bates Director's Award, about her upcoming play reading - Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club. Feeling so inspired by the passion for female driven work in industry after this conversation! Thanks Liz!! Have a read below...
Liz Arday: Director of Killing Katie
It’s great to see a new play with an all female team – where did your involvement with this project begin?
Through discussions with Mark Kilmurry (Artistic Director of the Ensemble) around possible works to develop for a public play reading. Traditionally the Sandra Bates Award winners have staged an existing work for the Boatshed Readings but I was interested in taking advantage of the project to develop a new Australian play. Mark gave me Tracey Trinder’s Killing Katie to read and I fell in love with it pretty quickly. Its fast paced, incredibly funny, and boasts five multi-dimensional yet fundamentally flawed women - a rare gem of a piece! It’s also wonderful to have the opportunity to run a female only rehearsal room, and the space to safely interrogate the politics of female relationships - one of the play’s major preoccupations. In fact it’s the third female driven work I’ve worked on this year which is very exciting…girls to the front!
What can audiences expect from this new show? Are we getting ready for a comedy? A thriller?
A comedy! A very smart, razor sharp, laugh out loud female driven comedy.
Why is this new play perfect for today’s audiences? Are there themes throughout the piece that you feel really ring true to a 2018 audience?
I think we’ve been witnessing the rise of female voices in the media over the last few years and Killing Katie certainly adds to the chorus. What I love about this play is that it’s an intelligent and no-holds-bar critique of female social dynamics and how we’re re-defining our identities in a post #metoo world. I think the five women of the play are really well drawn and multi-faceted, and I love that they spend the play discussing books and ethics and politics and being strategic … and maybe a little manipulative too! But they have agency and big ideas and loud voices and it’s so wonderfully refreshing to be able to engage with female characters that exist beyond the kitchen, their children, and their partners.
Have any characters in this show left you with a message or a new thought? Is there a character that will be staying with you beyond the show?
I think all of the women in this play are so well considered and written in a way that they resonate deeply, and linger with you long after you leave the theatre. Each character is very identifiable, flawed but redeemable. What I think Tracey has balanced so perfectly in her text is the opportunity to confront the audience with a reflection of our less-then-desirable personality traits but presents them in a public forum where we’re allowed to laugh openly and collectively in a safe space and collectively acknowledge (and hopefully challenge) these shared behaviours and secret desires.
This year you received the Sandra Bates Director’s Award – how has your experience been so far? How have your experiences through this award shaped your directorial style and the way that you have approached this work?
.It’s been a wonderful year so far! It’s such a joy to be attached to a professional company as a creative for a full year and have the opportunity to observe the work of so many talented artists. I’ve just finished working on Unqualified, another all female comedy written and performed by Genevieve Hegney and Catherine Moore and directed by Janine Watson. These three women were absolutely formidable and inspiring to watch in the rehearsal room, and it was a delight to see their comedy resonate so loudly with audiences across the sold out season- solid proof that female comedy sells. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to be bold in the telling of female stories and be brave in the fight to have your voice heard on stage on your own terms, and I’ll definitely be embracing that lesson while working on Killing Katie.
Being an inter-disciplinary theatre practitioner, how do you feel that working across the industry influences your approach to new works? Being both a designer and a writer, where do you start when you get a new text?
It depends on the project, but I find that my first responses to a text are generally visual. I’ll usually see the physical landscape of the work, as either key images, colour pallets, textures, costumes, design features, how the characters move in the space etc. From there I start to engage with the characters occupying the landscape, their politics, their worldview and how they might connect with the intended audience. The visual languages of a play are just as important to me as the language of the text, so I’m constantly exploring how the two inform each other. I think also being a theatre maker interested in stories for Millennial audiences I have to filter the world visually, because that’s how we consume information, connect with each other, and make meaning.
What insight does this show leave audiences with?
I hope they see a reflection of themselves in the characters—even if it’s an unflattering one—and hopefully leave a little more aware of the way they interact and engage with other women. Lets lift each other up, not tear each other down!
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Tough question, there are so many! But I’ll have to say Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach at Melbourne Festival in 2013.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Fly to Beijing then take the Trans-Siberian railway all the way through China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan onto Moscow. I couldn’t think of anything more adventurous and romantic.
Plays or musicals?
Plays. I want to engage with the world not escape from it.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Travelling is my favourite hobby- going somewhere I’ve never been before and getting lost and out of my comfort zone!
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m directing another new writing project for the Sydney Fringe/Revolving Days called Everyone I’ve Ever Loved or Slept With or Both by M Saint Claire. It’s a beautiful, brutal and challenging work that abstracts love and relationships in the new millennium.
Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club is on at Ensemble Theatre on the 11th of August at 12:30pm, and will be followed by a Q&A with the creatives. To book tickets, visit https://www.ensemble.com.au/shows/killing-katie-confessions-of-a-book-club/