Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Archived

I (Love) You

"Have you ever felt like your body was at the mercy of everything and everyone?"

Playwright Eliza Oliver describes the process that saw her Trump-enraged drama morph into a futuristic sci-fi comedy.

Text size
Text size
Company: Old 505 Theatre
Add to favourites

“I’ve learned to remain true to what I want to write”

Date: 13 Jun 2019

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.

Bodily Autonomy

Have you ever felt like your body was at the mercy of everything and everyone? Like it’s not really yours?

Ohmygod same.

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.

The Future

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.

Content
Monkey Business
Add to favourites
ArchivedKings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney 14 Jun - 6 Jul 2019

Monkey Business

"I don’t know whether I should feel insulted or complimented": Jamie Oxenbould goes ape to play a frustrated actor with Hollywood dreams.

Gloria: High drama in Office Space
Add to favourites
ArchivedSeymour Centre, Chippendale, Sydney 6 - 29 Jun 2019

Gloria: High drama in Office Space

Just another day turns into something unforgettable in American writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Gloria.

Razorhurst: When Bad Women Make Good
Add to favourites
ArchivedHayes Theatre Company, Potts Point, Sydney 14 Jun - 13 Jul 2019

Razorhurst: When Bad Women Make Good

A musical set in the streets and brothels of underworld Sydney comes home, writes Kate Mulley.

See More

More to see

View All
City of Gold
Add to favourites
TheatreGriffin Theatre, Kings Cross, Sydney 26 Jul - 31 Aug 2019

City of Gold

Meyne Wyatt's debut play focuses on a young Indigenous actor struggling with being typecast in an industry with its own ideas of authenticity.

Omar and Dawn
Add to favourites
ArchivedKings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney 12 - 27 Jul 2019

Omar and Dawn

Omar, a first-generation Lebanese Muslim Australian, has been in and out of foster homes all his life. Then he is placed with 80-year-old Dawn.

The Happy Prince
Add to favourites
ArchivedGriffin Theatre, Kings Cross, Sydney 25 Jun - 6 Jul 2019

The Happy Prince

From Melbourne's Little Ones Theatre, an ode to romance in torturous and unforgiving times.

Things I Know To Be True
Add to favourites
ArchivedBelvoir, Surry Hills, Sydney 8 Jun - 21 Jul 2019

Things I Know To Be True

It is after midnight and the phone is ringing. Bob knows that someone he loves is in trouble.

Top