03 August 2015

The Container Festival: interview Fleur Kilpatrick

A play reading
The Container Festival
3 August (tonight)
Monash University, Clayton Campus

Guest blogger Chris Edwards

Fleur Kilpatrick, serious playwright

Tonight, I'm not missing the reading of Fleur Kilpatrick’s Blessed. I’ve been looking forward to this since getting a sneak peek at the script earlier this year. Fleur’s show Braves was my favourite piece from the first Container Festival back in 2013. (SM: mine too.)  Her writing finds the poetic in the mundane and the specificity of character in the act of storytelling. I’m excited.

Last week Fleur generously took a few minutes out of her ever-so-slightly hectic schedule (she currently has Yours the Face  at Theatre Works as part of the Flight Festival, and is in rehearsal for two other shows, one as director and one as playwright, both of which will appear in this year’s Melbourne Fringe) to talk about Blessed and The Container Festival.

Chris: Where did Blessed come from? What was the impetus?

Fleur: The very first impetus was a song by a band called Elbow, and specifically just this line – Jesus is a Rochdale girl, forty-four CDs, got a house that you can smoke in – and just this image of this holy being with a house that you can smoke in was actually the jumping off point. But it very quickly became about poverty and about escape… and about the budget. Early last year the budget came out, the first Abbott government budget, and it just really struck me that not only is the gap between rich and poor getting bigger, no one gives a fuck anymore? They’re just like “Yeah that’s a thing, some people are really rich and some people are really poor, that’s Australia now!”

So when that happened that became a real focussing point for me for Blessed, this sense that there’s other people living a suburb over, and they know we’re here, but they don’t give a fuck. Yeah I think that was the starting point.

C: So then how did that, going from the budget to this tale of poverty and…

F: Sometimes you’re really lucky and the characters walk in and just start talking, and these two did. So I say it started from that song, it literally started in an exercise that myself and some playwrights were doing where we’d play a song and then have five minutes to write based on a thought that came to us. And I heard that line, imagined a couple where one of them is turning into an angel in this shitty house, and then I just wrote the first scene almost in its entirety, almost exactly as it now stands. So the fact that the characters came along so easily, and were so vibrant from the beginning really really helped and that’s rare. And I am so grateful to them for that in a way, because a lot of plays you have to fight for, but this one, it was just… honey. Onto the page. For a good eight hours on that first day, and I ended up with the first three scenes. Which are pretty much what they were when I wrote them that day. I now understand what they mean, in a way that I didn’t then… that felt like such a gift, just like ‘Here we’ll give you this one’.

C: So then, why The Container Festival?

F: I think the festival is wonderful. I think there’s something really beautiful about creating work in tiny spaces, something that’s very much about you and your audience and the relationship between you and your audience. And the Monash community means a lot to me, and has been incredibly supportive of me and my work, and so the idea of getting to share this new thing eight months before the rest of Melbourne will see it was really lovely. 

C: Do you still consider it a work in progress? Because it does have the forum after it as well-

F: The forum isn’t so much about me getting feedback, it’s a bit more about us talking about the process of what it’s like working on new writing as a director and writer team. Which makes me feel like an arrogant dickhead to be like “I’m not gonna get anything out of this” because I’m sure I will and I’m sure people will give me feedback that will mean a lot, but it’s not my main aim. My main aim is just to hear it with these voices and to let Danny [Delahunty; the director] play and to share it with this community in this forum that I really love.

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