The Other Side of 25 at the Old 505 Theatre and Adelaide Fringe Festival
Earlier this week, Carly spoke with Becca Hurd, creator and star of the one-woman show The Other Side of 25. This one-woman show premieres in Sydney at the Old 505 Theatre before heading to Adelaide Fringe Festival next month. Full of humour, music, and a few tears, too, 'The Other Side of 25' explores a woman's discovery of what you gain through what you lose.
Have a read of the full interview below:
Photo credit: Paige Driscoll
What inspired you to write ‘The Other Side of 25’ – where did the story idea come from? What is your writing process in starting a new piece?
I’m not quite sure where the premise of The Other Side of 25 came from – likely my immense fear of giving birth and raising children. I feel so far from being ready for those life milestones like getting married and having kids, and I think all of those anxieties channelled into my writing and suddenly this piay became much more than just a story about surrogacy. It became a story about growing up. 25 is this arbitrary age, yet, for some reason there is so much pressure to have your life figured out by age 25. I just turned 25 a week ago, and I think this play came out of a subconscious Becca freaking out about that, essentially.
The writing process that I learned from Stephen Sewell this year at NIDA is to sit down for a long period of time, write whatever comes into your head, and don’t read it over. And that’s what I did with this play. I put all of my own thoughts and anxieties about growing up and having children onto the page, and then this character Amory emerged from that and this story started to form.
Why will this story resonate so well with contemporary audiences? Who is this show written for?
This story is for everyone but I’m anticipating it resonating most with people aged 23-33ish. This story is about a character who’s a mess. We’re all a bit of mess, but Amory’s the type of mess that makes you feel better about yourself. She’s struggling with this notion that she should be an adult and have her life figured out by her age, and she doesn’t. And I think that’s super relatable. Then Amory gets thrown into a pretty unimaginable situation and we get to watch her struggle through that. We get to cringe, and cry and laugh with her because she’s wading in the same waters that we do, she just finds herself a bit deeper than most.
People say that you should ‘write what you know’ – in what ways has this text been inspired by your own experiences of being in your 20s?
I’ve never experienced surrogacy myself, but my older sister did just have a baby this year. So through her, I’ve gotten a taste of how challenging early motherhood is, and I asked her a lot of questions while writing this show. There are a lot of monologues in the show where Amory is unabashedly ranting to the audience about relationships and sex and family and though Amory is not me, a lot of what she says is inspired by my own thoughts and experiences. In the opening monologue, Amory talks about how when she was a kid she would faint a lot. Growing up, I had Vasovagal Syncope and fainted in reaction to stressful triggers all the time. So there’s lots of stuff like that in my writing. As a writer and comedian, I tend to write pretty close to myself.
I love the idea of your protagonist writing funny songs to get her out of sticky situations – what sorts of things is she able to sing away and how is it that she gets stuck in this particular situation?
The beautiful and talented Sally Alrich-Smythe helped me out with music in the show and, Thank God, because I wrote a character who sings and plays guitar and I didn’t know how to play guitar at the beginning of this process. I’ve been learning, though! At the top of the show Amory sings “The Condom Song” where she tells her boyfriend to “wear a fucking condom, you stupid dick.” (Sorry - am I allowed to swear here?). She sings songs to get what she wants, and we learn that she’s been doing that since she was a little girl. The first song she wrote to her parents was called “The Puberty Song” where she’s pleading with them to let her go to puberty class because “boobs and dicks and sex and alcohol” are things she doesn’t know about but wants to learn.
The songs are a fun way to show Amory’s struggle to distance herself from things she doesn’t want to deal with, but you can’t just sing your way out of hard situations in life. Amory needs to face her fears and her problems, especially once she becomes her sister’s surrogate and has a human being growing inside of her.
Why should Sydney theatre-goers make sure not to miss this show?
First of all, to support indie theatre and new writing! Second of all, to support women in theatre! Our team is made up almost entirely of female-identifying creatives and this is a very female-centric story we felt compelled to tell. Third of all, because it’s friggen hilarious and you will love it!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Ooo! A one woman show I saw at Edinburgh Fringe this past year called Build A Rocket. It was beautifully written, performed, and designed. Actually, shoot, I also am OBSESSED with the play Gloria by Brandan Jacobs-Jenkins after seeing it at the Goodman theatre in Chicago.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Thailand! I’ve always wanted to go.
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Filming and editing travel videos.
What’s next for you after this show?
Oh man. We are performing TOSO25 in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne and then I am hopefully taking it to Chicago!
The Other Side of 25 opens at the Old 505 from February 5th to 9th. Following the Sydney Season, the show will tour to Adelaide for the Fringe Festival from February 21st to 24th at The Loft A Club. Get your Sydney tickets here, and your Adelaide tickets here.
Photo credit: Julia Boyd