I’m an Australian writer based in Norwich. I came over to England to study a Masters of Creative Writing, where I studied under the mentorship of Steve Waters. After I graduated I had to figure out what visa to switch to, and I decided to go in for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, so I now run my theatre company, HACK Theatre, which is based at the (awesome) Norwich Arts Centre.
I’m their writer and company in residence and we do scratch nights together for emerging regional artists. I mostly write plays about politics, mental health and love.I’ve been shortlisted twice for the HighTide First Commissions; and I’ve completed writing programmes with PapaTango and HighTide, as well as residencies at The BFI; SOHO; SPILL; The North Wall; Arcola Theatre; and the Australian National Studio. Some writing credits include: Border Control, Clownfish, The Games We Played, Off Dereham Road.
Dysney Disfunction is coming to Assembly, what can you tell us about the show?
The show’s a heart-stopper. Disney’s what we 90s kids grew up with and we believed in happily ever after, now we can’t buy a house, our travel rights and desire to explore are being threatened by a government most of us didn’t vote for. We see our fave childhood characters like Miley Cyrus twerking – so this play is a massive shout out to my generation who believed in the fairytales and are still waiting to swipe right on our Prince Charming. But it also deals with the very serious matters of immigration and abuse. I was inspired by a lot of Banksy’s work demonstrating the Disney Princesses as victims of abuse. I believe that now the #metoo moment has hit, I feel a responsibility to actually explore the under-current of a lot of these fairytales and examine how we have tried to create our own love stories through facebook, insta, twitter etc., and expose some of the more pressing and hard hitting realities that are coming out now.
What’s the one thing about Dysney Disfunction makes it different from all the rest?
This play isn’t a typical ‘immigrant story’. It goes so much deeper than that to look at how we love and grieve and create our identities, escape our past and believe in a better future. As an immigrant, I’m often told that I should write about Australia and cultural differences between there and Britain, my identity etc. This play totally goes against what people sometimes want stories to be about and what audiences may want to hear- to open us up to what we should actually be hearing from under-represented voices on our stages.
What inspired you to write Dysney Disfunction?
After spending nearly 4 years in the UK, my visa is expiring in October. I had an opportunity to write a three minute piece for the Soho/Barbican stage at the Walthamstow Garden Party last year, and I had just seen Katie Bonna’s play, All the Things I Lied About, and I knew I wanted to deconstruct the notion of love. Seeking inspiration from Disney seemed the truest thing to me, as that’s exactly what I’ve done in my relationships – based love off Disney and Friends and realised it was really f’ed up… So I decided to write this seedling of an idea, I had no time to get an actor in, so I figured, I better do it myself.
What’s the most challenging thing about performing in Dysney Disfunction?
I’m not really a performer… so that’s kind of extremely challenging. So delving into performer mode after a morning of re-writing, is a real shift in mind and body. The show is incredibly energetic and deals with a lot in a very short space of time, so hitting the ‘heart beat’ (as David, my director calls it) can be a real challenge, but it’s the most rewarding thing when you know you’ve hit those heart beats and you’re able to land them in front of an audience. From an introvert to getting onto the stage… that’s a pretty great feeling.
How does it feel to be at Assembly?
It’s a dream come true. The whole HACK Team have been welcomed so brilliantly and we really feel like we’re part of something big. It’s a great community, and Assembly have done that. It’s the whole team’s first Edinburgh show, so the fact they have programmed us feels really special and has inspired us to challenge ourselves and the piece. So yeah, it’s awesome.
What would you say to people thinking of coming to see Dysney Disfunction?
Come in with an open mind and heart and get ready to laugh and hopefully see yourself on stage. It’s an empowering piece that will inspire and challenge anyone coming to see the show to think about themselves, their relationships, and their worlds and how we create stories.
Dysney Disfunction is at Assembly Rooms 2nd – 25th August (not 14th)