Perpetual Wake at Subiaco Arts Centre
From Australia's hottest theatrical outfit The Last Great Hunt, comes PERPETUAL WAKE, a brand-new comedy about the stories we tell to hide our shame.
Social media influencer Fiona West has written a stunning debut novel: Perpetual Wake. When career maker-or-breaker Paul Creel reads it, he sees himself reflected in shockingly accurate detail: He finally feels understood.
Impressed, he invites West for a “casual drink” just days before his review is published. But as they chat, he is humiliated to discover the book was intended as a hysterical satire! Declaring a silent war, he determines to bury the book before the year is out.
In this hilarious new work, the award-winning writers behind THE ADVISORS, FAG/STAG, GIRL SHUT YOUR MOUTH and MINNIE & MONA PLAY DEAD plunge the audience into a surreal and shadowy wilderness of truth, lies, and psychological revenge.
Rosie spoke with writer and Director Gita Bezard about the world premiere of her newest work and why she continues to push the boundaries in her plays. Read the full interview below:
Perpetual Wake is a brand-new comedy about the depths people will sink to in order to hide their shame. What inspired the creation of this work and why was it the right fit for your 2019 season?
We were devising around the idea of terrible people. Our improvisations kept coming back to a mother trying to get her son to take a family photo by saying horrible things to him and this lead us to ideas of shame. That story never made it into the show but the essence of it stuck. The story of the writer and the critic came from tiny stories we wrote to inspire us and we went from there. The way we program is to look at what work is ready to be shared with the world and it was time to put Perpetual Wake in front of an audience.
In a company that consistently pushes the boundaries of theatre and creates unique experiences for their audiences, how do you take the next step? Do you feel pressured to push your own boundaries with every new production?
We do like to push the boundaries but we also have to go where the work wants to go. We would never want to mistake boundary pushing for just being overly complicated. Sometimes all you want to do is tell a really good story and that is equally as exciting to us. We just aim for each work to be the best experience for the audience that it can be and that can take many forms. One of the ways we encourage this in the company is that when we pitch work we never question whether it’s possible or not, we trust that every one of us has to skills to make magic happen and we encourage outrageous experimenting even when it sounds impossible.
A lot of the work produced by The Last Great Hunt has a surreal aspect to it. Why is surrealist theatre such a successful avenue to discuss the dark and taboo? How does Perpetual Wake fit into this?
I often use surreal elements in my work because I enjoy lifting the audience out of the every day. It’s a way to look at people and ideas that unlocks them from reality, from logic and from the laws of science. It also lends itself to an aesthetic that is lush and gives designers lots of scope to play around in.
Perpetual Wake uses surreal elements including a stag that shames people to help illuminate the desires and failings of the characters. Audiences have a great capacity for puzzle solving and interpreting and I like to give them an opportunity to sit in something that is a little bizarre and different to their day to day lives.
You’ve written a lot of exciting works over the past few years, including Girl Shut Your Mouth, The Talk and The Advisors. What content do you find yourself drawn to in your writing?
I’m interested in writing fabulous female characters. Strong, weak, strange and complex women, angry, clever and stupid women, kind, joyful and hilarious women. I write parts I would find exciting to play as an actor and that I hope inspire the performers who take on the roles. I’m always hope to write about ideas that are relevant and political but also tell a great story and are entertaining.
What do you hope to achieve with Perpetual Wake? What conversations do you want to instigate?
Mostly we want people to come on a journey with these characters who are flawed and selfish and insecure and loveable. If it makes people think about how to let go of their own past shames, about how it might be holding them back and how much control they have over that, then that would be wonderful. But mostly I want them to sink into this world and be stimulated and entertained.
Lastly, as someone who loves the work of The Last Great Hunt - any plans to bring this to Sydney?
New shows are usually not in consideration for touring until they have premiered, so who know? It’s always a possibility!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
That’s an impossible choice but probably most memorable would be Nirbhaya the Play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Plays or musicals?
Plays with songs.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Quizzes. Walking in nature. Board games.
What’s next for you after this show?
Perpetual Wake is currently showing at the Subiaco Arts Centre until September 7. You can get your tickets here.