Our April picks for tertiary study
Tom Healey - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
I can’t think of two more different plays – or writers – than Jenny Kemp’s Call of the Wild and Brendan Cowell’s The Sublime. Apart from their vast differences in style and content, a span of about thirty years separates these two plays, but they are both vivid and wonderful evocations of the experience of contemporary Australian life.
Kemp’s Call of the Wild premiered at the now-defunct and still lamented theatre company The Church which was based in Hawthorn Melbourne in the 1980’s. It was commissioned and performed as part of the then Spoleto Festival (now Melbourne International Arts Festival) and remains a seminal memory (a strange term in many ways to apply to this text) for many of us who were lucky enough to see its first iteration. The following text is drawn from Jenny Kemp’s website (http://www.blacksequin.com/call-of-the-wild.html) which is an incredible repository of all of Jenny’s work: “Call of the Wild examines the process of living, in particular the way a young woman and her mother inhabit her world. It seeks to explore the activity and creativity of the female psyche. The play recoginses her continual interplay between inner and outer worlds, between past and present, fear and desire, the actual and the imaginary. The text is the voice of the young woman: her learned, imagined, remembered and unspoken voices, and the voice of her desire.” Kemp’s work is always bold in its construction, rich in its imagery and magical to be in the room with. This is a visceral and poetic text, ripe for reimagining and reinvention.
Cowell’s The Sublime (which The Age described as “black and dangerous satire, not for the faint-hearted”) premiered at the Melbourne Theatre Company in August 2014. It was a run-away hit and, although its subject matter is fairly full-on, it drew audiences from all quarters of the Melbourne theatre-going public. It concerns an off-season holiday trip to Thailand which ends up in a fairly large mess, and examines the vexed question of the celebrity of sports players and what the rights and responsibilities of all concerned - the players, the clubs, the fans and the families - might be when that celebrity lands somehow in hot water. The script is fast-paced and muscular, its observations are intelligent and gritty and there are three wonderful roles for young actors.Regards,
Tom Healey, Literary Manager