After seeing Merciless Gods some years ago in Sydney, Rosie was thrilled to ask questions of writer, Don Giovannoni, ahead of the show's Melbourne opening next month. Read about the process of bringing this show back to the stage, its importance in 2019 and why audiences need to see this show, below:
Don Giovannoni, writer of Merciless Gods
For those who don’t know much about the show, what is Merciless Gods and how did it come to fruition from Christos Tsiolkas’ book of the same name?
Merciless Gods is a play I adapted for Little Ones Theatre. Director Stephen Nicolazzo approached me to turn the stories in Christos’ collection into a play. We’ve adapted eight stories in total, retaining the power and humanity of Christos’ writing, while filtering it through our lens.
Audiences may remember Merciless Gods from its run at Griffin Theatre (Sydney) and Northcote Town Hall (Melbourne) in 2017, where it opened to rave reviews. Why has Merciless Gods come back to the stage?
We were so delighted with how audiences responded to the play, in both Melbourne and Sydney. It really connected with people. I think it offers a view of Australia that you don’t get to see very often, you meet people and hear stories you rarely see on stage. Christos’ writing is so remarkable – brutal, human, beautiful, tragic – that you are completely absorbed by the worlds he creates.
How do the stories in Merciless Gods translate to a 2019 audience? Do you think these themes and stories will continue to have relevance to an Australian audience?
I knew we were on to something special when people started approaching me in the foyer after the show saying ‘that was me up there; that was my story’. These were not typical theatre-going audiences, either. These stories are relevant because they champion the underdog, the outsider. Australia is full of people who are ignored, in whatever way, by society – whether because they’re queers, or migrants, because they speak another language, or their bodies are not desirable to the mainstream. The stories are deeply human, too – tragic and brutal, at times, but underpinned firmly with humanity.
Why is it important to tell and retell the experiences of queer and immigrant people in Australia? How can we use theatre to share those stories?
There’s power in seeing yourself on stage, in hearing your stories told; there’s power in hearing things you haven’t heard before, seeing the world in a different way. Theatre lets us re-make the world, over and over again, offer different perspectives on things, re-tell someone else’s truth.
Why should audiences see Merciless Gods?
You will see a vision of Australia you don’t often see on stage, in worlds dreamt up by one of our most treasured and potent writers, performed by award-winning actors. It’s an absolute ripper, promise.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream show/role to perform?
I’m not an actor, but I dance with Body Electric, and that’s about as much performing as I can muster.
Plays or musicals?
Plays, but if anyone reading this wants to commission me to write a musical, then definitely musicals.
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m working on a few new things; some plays for children and some for adults.
You won't want to miss this show, running between 6-10th Feb at the Arts Centre Melbourne. Click here for info and tickets.