This story begins in 2017 when I was working at Belvoir as a resident playwright.
This was a big deal for me, but I had massive imposter syndrome. I felt like I needed to prove myself by writing A VERY BIG AND IMPORTANT PLAY ABOUT THE WORLD.
In January 2017, the world was spinning on its axis. Donald Trump had been elected, and the whole concept of truth and post-truth was introduced into our vernaculars.
As a nervous writer trying to impress a fancy-schmancy mainstage company I thought I’d write a political play about post-truth – a world without lies.
Fast forward two years.
I’ve realised I’m not a fancy-schmancy political mainstage writer and I hate the play I wrote about post-truth. In refining my style (while growing up), I’ve realised that I’m silly and theatrical, I write comedy, I write about feminism and women and bodies, not about Trump.
So with this knowledge, I began the arduous task alongside my dramaturgical sidekick, Sarah Hadley, to shape this play into something that I actually wanted to talk about. I realised I had inadvertently written a play about power and control over bodies. Sarah and I then sculpted the play from a Trump-enraged drama to a futuristic sci-fi comedy about truth and bodily autonomy.
Have you ever felt like your body was at the mercy of everything and everyone? Like it’s not really yours?
I’m forever walking home at night with my keys between my fingers, which is not an unusual thing but it’s also not okay. The discussion of women’s bodies in the past few years is definitely more prevalent but you also can’t get an abortion legally in a gazillion places.
A woman’s struggle to contain her body is at the heart of I (Love) You. It runs alongside a search for truth and connection. In reframing the play over the last couple of years, I really wanted the play to be accessible to most people, which is why it’s mostly a love story.
Now I’ve learned to remain true to what I want to write, I’ve written a sometimes silly, odd world.
Our director Shannan Ely calls it “Twin Peaks meets Black Mirror, but funnier”, which I gracefully take as a compliment.
Through the use of repetition, questions remain unanswered but also allow the audience to look at women trying and failing at doing a thing. Just doing things, odd things in desperate attempts to have control over their selves, their bodies.
This offbeat “futuristic” genre has allowed me huge freedom as a writer to be weird but also to look at humans as odd and symbolic creatures. Because I have no idea about what the future looks like, I can shape the characters into whatever weirdos I want.
How to write a play you want
It’s often hard as a writer to be as prolific as your peers. But this whole process has taught me that it’s important to write what is important to you. It’s critical to reshape drafts and breathe life into old projects. Three years is a long time for a one-hour show to be made. But this play never would’ve come about unless I challenged myself to write something completely different and then turned it into something I loved.
What I’m hoping I have now is not only something that was enjoyable to write but something that connects with a larger audience.
If you have a body and you’ve ever told a lie then this play will have something for you. Better still if you laugh at odd things and imagine the world somewhere far in the future.