Traverse theatre is a two-sided experience.
By its very nature, the audience sits parallel to each other on opposite sides of the stage. For an audience, it can be exciting to see the reactions and experiences of others. But for an early-career director like myself, it becomes an opportunity to view the other side.
Opportunities are scarce at the moment for creatives, let alone for artists like myself that have graduated from their drama courses to even fewer opportunities than normal in the last two years. So when the opportunity arose to Assistant Direct The End Of Winter, I leapt at it for numerous reasons.
The first was simply to watch the incredible collaboration of Kate Gaul, Jane Phegan and Noëlle Janaczewska after their acclaimed first production, Good With Maps.
Watching them at work on the first day was a unique reflection on the past, on the history of cold on their tours, and on the years of stories that had led to this day (a story, for example, about a bottle of scotch made from the waters of Antarctica). From this I knew there was a beautiful history of friendship and trust that would inform the bringing this next story to the stage. I felt very privileged to witness it.
The second was the writing.
New Australian stories are thriving at the moment, but this was the first time I had read such a personal story of climate change and loss. The writing reveals an intimate connection between the individual and this global issue we’re facing. And our minds are constantly brought back to this in the rehearsal room. How do we connect an audience to an issue our politicians won’t acknowledge? How do we build collective responsibility for the loss our environment is facing? Connecting the power of storytelling to our global issues seems to be a good start.
In the rehearsal room, conversations keep circling our experiences of winter in Australia. Our stage manager Fiona Harding shares her childhood experiences of rural NSW and mountains now devoid of snow. We wonder what’s next?
But as we share these stories, and we battle the difficulties of Covid-19, and the more important climate battle that is to come, we know that this story is at least a good place to start.
The End Of Winter plays at SBW Stables Theatre, February 2 – 14