Here we are…

January 2015 is finally here – a big Happy New Year to you all!

Elphie gives notes after a rehearsal

Elphie gives notes after a rehearsal

When Lily and I went to Hothouse Theatre in February 2014 to undertake ten days of creative development on My Pet, My Love, we had no idea that a year later we would be putting on a one man show in the Midsumma Festival. Well, here were are and our show opens in less than three weeks!

We’ve been rehearsing like mad, with help from Lily’s new daughter Elphie (she’s a great assistant director, who very rarely spits the dummy!) and have two incredible designers on board, James O’Donoghue, lighting and sets, and Jai Leeworthy our sound designer. We are also very fortunate to have secured the La Mama Courthouse which is the perfect venue for our piece.

I am very excited to be sharing My Pet, My Love with an audience as this piece has been a long time in the works and one that is very personal to me. A lot of people have asked me what the piece is about and it’s difficult to answer that in one sentence.

In 2005, my Nonna began to forget things and in 2007, she was diagnosed with dementia. In 2012, she died, a shell of her former shelf, in the dementia ward of a nursing home. These events, and the impact they had on my family were the inspiration for this show.

I saw the effect my Nonna’s dementia had on my father, and then in turn, on me and so many questions started going through my head. What if my father develops dementia? Will I be as strong as him? What if I develop it? Or my partner? My friends joke that I’m forgetful and have early onset dementia, but what if there’s some truth to it? It’s a terrifying thought.

My Pet, My Love tells a number of stories. It is the story of an elderly gay couple whose relationship is affected when one develops dementia and the other becomes the carer. It is the story of a child who discovers death for the first time, and it is the story of me, a 30 something grappling with my own fears of growing old.

So, if I had to sum it up in a sentence – My Pet, My Love is a one man show about fish, forgetting and the fear of dying single.

La Mama Courthouse

La Mama Courthouse

Tickets for the show are on sale now and can be purchased via the following website – http://lamama.com.au/summer-2015/my-pet-my-love/

I hope to see you there

Rob

 

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Lizards and deer and bats…oh my!

It’s been a bit quiet on the MARC Up front recently while Carly and I not only focus our energy on other things, but also try to find the right project for MARC Up to bring to audiences next.

However, the last few weeks have been very exciting and inspiring. But let’s rewind a bit shall we….

About 3 years ago, whilst still at drama school, Lily Fish and I created these two characters: An old man and an old woman, who were saying goodbye to each other for the last time. Goodbye due to death, goodbye due to illness? That wasn’t clear, but there was something that we connected to, me especially. Six months later, Lily and I along with Glenn Luck (who accompanied us on guitar), performed a 10-minute piece My Pet, My Love at Short and Sweet Melbourne at the end of 2011. This piece told the story of an elderly couple and how their relationship is affected as he develops dementia. We then went into further development, this time with Michelle France taking over Lily’s role in the piece and Lily Fish and Rachel Torrance coming on board to give an outside eye and help us shape the piece. Michelle and I spent hour upon hour in the rehearsal room, playing with ideas, and text, and keys and jars and water until we were happy with our second version of My Pet, My Love which we performed as part of La Mama Explorations in October 2012 again with Glenn Luck (this time accompanying us using glass, metal and water!)

But for me, that still wasn’t enough. There was still something more that needed to be said. There was still some reason why I couldn’t let this story go. For those that don’t know, my personal connection with this story stems from being directly impacted by dementia. My Nonna suffered from dementia for a number of years and I saw how it effected not only me, but my father (her son) and the rest of my family.

So, last year after a lengthy application process, we were awarded a residency by Hot House Theatre in Albury as part of their Month in The Country program. What this means is that we were given two weeks accommodation at a farmhouse in Albury, that had an adjoining rehearsal studio and nothing but open space to let loose and create. This time it was just me and Lily Fish, and we went there in mid February 2014 with the goal of creating a skeleton of a one man show. And that we did!

The benefits of leaving Melbourne and going out to a secluded farmhouse were incredible! The countryside was beautiful, the wildlife was a plenty and it was the perfect setting to create. During our time there, the ideas and inspiration would flow, then we’d hit a rock, which would only encourage us to explore deeper. We laughed, we cried, we  scared each other, we sang songs, we came 4th at a local pub trivia night, we ate a lot, and without the distractions of life back home (I rarely had phone service, let alone access to Facebook!) we were able to go deep into this subject matter and create a piece of theatre that I am really proud of.

For any theatre makers or writers out there I strongly recommend applying for the Hot House residency – As long as you can handle the locals – lizards, snakes, spiders, frogs (in the toilet), deer (the cutest Bambi-like deer ever in our front yard!) and bats (that somehow got into the house and would fly around our lounge room every night) – then it’ll be an inspiring two weeks for you.

So the piece is not yet ready for an audience. We still have a lot of tweaking, and we need to get some feedback (and some money!) before we put the show on, but it’s an exciting time. So watch this space…

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