22-26 September in the Basement Studio, Auckland
Spiritual Poppy Meadowsong and pocket rocket Amy Miller, recent drama graduates hoping for the big break, are flatting together in Auckland when they wind up being called back for the same part. Who will win? Who will DIE? You decide, the blurb rather alarmingly tells us. I met co-writer Lucy Suttor for a chat to find out whether art is imitating life.
Suttor and co-author Frith Horan, a great friend, graduated from Toi Whakaari two years ago. They have decent agents, and like their characters have been flatting in Auckland ever since, doing nanny jobs, ushering jobs, and bar jobs to pay the bills while waiting for the call to audition for telly, or an ad, or anything where you actually get paid. In the meanwhile, they are doing devised theatre, film shorts and now this. Working in theatre keeps you sane. You find you have so much to say surrounded by so many people in the same place.
Too frantic with all the jobs to do much together, they have had the rather ingenious idea to take turns writing the play, reading what the other did before, and then continuing the story. It all sounds a bit theatresports, a bit Whose Line is it Anyway? I can see the advantage of it, though. No need to worry about how to bring all the strands together, just leave it to the other one. The director, another friend and recent graduate of Unitec, Lewis Gregory, has fleshed out the script which has then been re-edited and developed in rehearsal. It all seems very collaborative and positive.
If she and Frith were up for the same part, would they help each other prepare?
'We would’, she says. The play doesn’t seem to be based on her real experiences at all.
‘Don’t get me wrong’, she says, ‘the business is hugely competitive.’ Frith and I have just decided to be really open with each other and support each other. This play explores what happens when that competitiveness rises to the surface and things turn into chaos.
‘Are you exploring your dark side?’ I ask.
Suttor looks a bit uncomfortable to admit a dark side, and really if there is one, it is hard to detect: she just seems lovely. I ask if it is a black comedy? ‘More chaotic than black’, she says.
The first night is sold out already, and I am looking forward to watching it. The acting world is particularly competitive, but dealing with your friends’ successes when there are limited interesting jobs out there, is a universal problem and can get more intense with time, not less. I leave Suttor pulling a script out of her back. She is preparing an audition piece for a paid job. And yes, Frith is up for the part too.