Our June picks for tertiary study
Tom Healey - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
Both of the plays I am recommending this month are from Melbourne-based writers, though of very different generations and styles. Rashma N. Kelsie’s Melbourne Talam was a runaway success when it was premiered earlier this year by the Melbourne Theatre Company’s education department. As I write, it is completing a regional tour. Richard Murphet’s elliptical and haunting tone poem for the theatre, Dolores in the Department Store was written nearly twenty years ago for the then graduating students of the Victorian College of the Arts.
Rashma N. Kelsie is an Australian-Indian playwright. She trained originally as a television journalist and scriptwriter and has many works, including a book, published and performed. Over the last couple of years this play was workshopped and developed by the MTC through the excellent Cybec Electric series and then given a full season in the Lawler Studio. The work is set in contemporary Melbourne and examines the experience of three immigrant Australians waylaid at a train station. Three actors play a variety of roles and the writing is naturalistic with loads of recognizable and funny types. The characters around whom the main stories revolve are Sonali, Poornachandra and Jasminder. Both Sonali and Poornachandra are ‘on the run’ from their families but are starting to experience intense loneliness and Jasminder is carrying the entire hopes of his family on his back. This is a beautifully observed and very accessible piece, written by and for artists of Austraian/Indian background.
Dolores in the Department Store is an entirely different proposition. Written in 2000, this is a deep meditation on the nature of marriage and identity. As both a writer and a director, Richard Murphet’s body of work explores the inner landscape of human experience. If he has written a naturalistic character-driven piece, I am unaware of it! Delores delves deep into the dreamscape of everyday life. The mis-en-scene morphs from suburban family home, to television studio, to the department store of its title. This is a post-dramatic, highly stylized (and stylish) text that would suit actors and directors with a bold vision and a desire to go somewhere unexpected. Dense, poetic, whimsical and occasionally frightening, this is an intense and rich theatrical experience.
Tom Healey, Literary Manager