In his novel The Reader Bernhard Schlink writes: “The tectonic layers of our lives rest so tightly one on top of the other that we always come up against earlier events in later ones, not as matter that has been fully formed and pushed aside, but absolutely present and alive.”
This insight into memory combined with my interest in fantasy and intimacy, and How to Humanely End your Marriage was born.
Humanely is a 30-minute play that follows Luke and Fea – a couple who have decided that their teenage love is the only way they can find happiness, no matter who it hurts.
Today, we live assaulted by messages of self-improvement, better endings, crazy chances and miracles; we live our lives in fragments on about 10 different types of screens. Contemporary relationships exist on more levels than just standing in a room talking to one another, so I decided to try to make this play an experiment: a collage of emails, texts, receipts, one-sided phone calls, voicemail messages and naturalistic scenes that reflect the ways we communicate now.
To bring this whirlwind world to life is Madeleine Humphreys – a wonderful director I’ve worked with several times before. The adaptations I’ve developed with Maddy in the past – Salem and The Yellow Wallpaper – have both had a mix of live performance and multimedia that reflects Maddy’s interest in creating beautiful and suspenseful theatre that’s still primarily focused on psychology.
We’ll be bringing that manifesto into the world of How to Humanely End Your Marriage. Because in a play that’s about fantasy, technology and isolation – it makes sense to have a little bit of technology in there.
Luke and Fea are unhappy. And they shouldn’t be. They have the jobs, the money; they read the books and wear the clothes and see the movies and have the friends – but they’re missing something.
How to Humanely End Your Marriage is about loss and longing – nostalgia for the things that came before. It’s about the stories humans tell themselves in order to feel whole. It’s about trying to chase a neat, happy ending – even when we exist in a world that’s a whirl of bits and pieces, fragments, contradictory feelings – and messy, unpredictable people.
As Joan Didion says, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live”. The only thing is, they’re not always the right ones.
How to Humanely End Your Marriage plays in The Gallery, Bondi Pavilion, July 24-28