The female experience is “a total driver of my work,” says Michele Lee, the writer of Going Down.
“I’m completely motivated to write works for women, about female experiences, with interesting female characters,” she says. “I think I would struggle to do anything else. My casts are all female, and I’m looking at things that are uniquely female, especially at that intersection of race and gender.”
Starring Catherine Davies, Going Down draws heavily on Lee’s lived experience. It tells the story of Natalie Yang, a young woman who has just published her memoir, Banana Girl, a sexually explicit look at life in millennial Australia. It isn’t the heart-warming migrant story people expected.
“It is very much celebrating what it means to be a young woman living in the modern urban environment. It’s an exciting place for young women but there is so must frustration, too. There is too much to do … but we still want to do it all.”
The pressures Lee’s character deals with – professional, family, romantic – are not uniquely female, “but I feel the play would have an obvious appeal to women,” Lee says. “It is speaking to the culture, and about how women navigate the environment.”
Prior to writing Going Down, Lee says she imagined the idea of “a non-white Sex and the City”.
“I think I was preoccupied with sex at the time because of my memoir Banana Girl,” Lee says. “I explored sex very overtly in the book but there was a layer of things I felt were unfinished and that led into Going Down.
“What has remained from the Sex and the City idea is a protagonist who is a writer like Carrie Bradshaw, very interested in modern relationships and sex. She is ostensibly me because she is Hmong and she has written a memoir called Banana Girl, which is about a young woman having lots of fun and lots sex through dating websites. It’s quite funny to look back at now because I’m in a contented long-term relationship with a baby.”