Wake in Fright is a physical, traumatic, violent work. How does it feel to perform something with this kind of energy?
It’s actually really fun. I think some of the aesthetic choices we’ve made, in terms of the style of presentation, the way that we’ve chosen to enter into a storytelling mode – one actor, one voice – have made it so I could just fit really comfortably inside a type of storytelling that feels very connected to the audience.
Does Wake in Fright make you see the evil inside yourself?
Confrontation inside the theatre is useful, but some people don’t like it, they like to just come to the theatre and be presented with something and feel nice, and there’s absolutely room for that sort of performance. But I think our show facilitates a process where people come and self-reflect about where they sit or about seeing a different experience of what it means to live inside of Australian culture.
A lot of our responses to the material and things that we were intrigued by were about notions of Australian mateship and benevolence and how that fits inside of the reality of living here. The myths that have been sold to us and the myth that we get told about Australian culture actually sit in quite stark contradiction to what the reality is of living here.
In Wake in Fright the protagonist John Grant finds himself in this town, in this culture, and he’s trapped there trying to leave and the people are “helping him” on his way out of town. Actually, everything that they do is a negotiation where he has to sacrifice or kill off parts of himself — all of the help and benevolence is conditional; if you want our help you have to join our culture.
Those sort of things have a lot of resonances particularly for immigrants in this country or people who are on the fringes and might feel as though they don’t fit or belong into a narrative that has been sold to the society as “this is what our culture looks like” or “this is what it feels or sounds like”.