Pretty Fly for a Dead Guy at Shopfront Arts
What happens in the zombie apocalypse, stays in the zombie apocalypse.
What if sexism turned out to be a full on medical disease? First your flesh starts to rot, then your eyes fall out, and you’re left covered in blood, limping around muttering #notallmenarezombies.
Written and Directed by Shopfront Member Lily Hensby, 'Pretty Fly for a Dead Guy' mixes end-of-the-world-sized special effects with camp aesthetics and B-grade horror tropes to create a zombie film live on stage. Rosie spoke to Lily about Shopfront's members program, theatre after the #metoo movement, and what exactly a zombie cinematic experience is. Read the full interview below:
I want to start by congratulating you on getting this opportunity! For those who aren’t familiar with Shopfront member productions, can you explain what the process is and what made you want to pitch your work here?
Thank you! So, Shopfront offers a plethora of awesome opportunities for young and emerging artists across Sydney and NSW. The members production is a program specifically for Shopfront members (which is a totally easy membership to gain) who get to pitch their ideas for a show and if that is successful you get to work closely with a mentor and have your work get its own season at Shopfront. So my pitch night consisted of everyone sharing their ideas and snippets of their work. Then those ideas were passed onto all the workshops Shopfront offers and those artists voted on their favourite idea. I’d been involved with Shopfront for a while before pitching my work so I knew the theatre a bit too well and wanted this work to find it’s first home at Shopfront.
Pretty Fly for a Dead Guy explores sexism in a creative new way that immerses us in the terror that many women experience. What inspired you to create this work, and why did you choose to make this production so cinematic?
Yes! It comes as a direct response to the #metoo movement and Time’s Up! Both these movements came (at least for me) as a huge sigh of relief to know that not just myself has had experiences that have made me feel yucky. I guess my initial idea for the gross people to turn into zombies was my feeling of wanting to rip their guts out for mistreating women for so long. The cinematic aesthetic we’ve been working with has always been my go-to choice as a theatre maker. As much as it feels like a movie, it’s also funny as hell. There’s a certain camp-ness to my script that lets us laugh along with the ridiculousness of this particular zombie apocalypse.
I’d love to know more about this ‘zombie cinematic experience’. What can audiences expect from this production? If you’re scared of zombies and all things horror, will this be a truly terrifying experience?
I tried to adopt as many zombie horror cinematic tropes as I possibly could. The opening scene feels quite close to the opening of Scream with Drew Barrymore on the phone. I have an incredibly talented tech team who have dedicated countless hours to create lighting designs and soundscapes to capture the aesthetics of a horror movie including jump scares. I hope it won’t be too terrifying but just enough to get you to feel a bit irked about the ideas within the play.
You’re currently being mentored by Declan Greene, a talented theatre maker in the Australian arts industry. What has the mentoring process been like for you, and how has it helped you develop as an artist?
An angel! Declan has been mentoring me mostly on my writing process. The last time we met up I was able to collect three whole pages of notes that have become almost like my playwrights Bible! He is extremely generous with his time and also said it was funny which is like the biggest compliment ever! There are a million things that I’ve learnt over this process especially as a writer. There is always room to make cuts and changes to a script, even in production week. Just keep editing!
What do you hope to achieve with Pretty Fly for a Dead Guy, and what do you hope audience will leave the theatre talking/thinking about?
I want the audience to have as much fun as the actors do. We have been incorporating special effects into the choreography of the show which has been the most fun and messy strategy I’ve used to date and audiences in the front row may get wet. I hope I can communicate a message to the men in the audience. It would be awesome to have even one of them recognise themselves or some of their behaviour in the male characters and understand that even the little mistakes can be huge to someone else.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death by Nakkiah Lui.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
New York City baby!
Dream show to create?
Gender bent Back to the Future.
Plays or musicals?
Reading lots of Caryl Churchill at the moment and I recently saw Book of Mormon which was THUMBS UP!
What’s next for you after this show?
I have to write a thesis for my honours degree at UOW! Yikes.
Pretty Fly for a Dead Guy opens at the Shopfront Arts Co-Op on May 2. You can get your tickets here.