NEON Festival has always been a bastion of innovative theatre, and this season features some of the best female actors and creatives in Melbourne, including Tamiah Bantum, Kasia Kaczmarek, Chloe Greaves and Elbow Room Co-Director Emily Tomlins.
Tomlins is one of the brains behind We Get It, a world premiere created for the NEON season, and Pop Culture-y chatted to her about the show, NEON and the state of independent theatre.
First up, tell us a little about We Get It. It’s an interesting take on gender in the theatre and gender anxiety. What prompted its development? (I imagine that the way that the media constantly pits women against each other was an inspiration!)
We Get It talks about something that has always been a concern to us as a theatre company, and myself as a woman.
It’s a conversation that has been had before, but it needs to continue. The media is at saturation in terms of pitting women against each other and negative or unhealthy representations. But it isn’t new of course. And the art form we love the most, theatre, is also guilty of it.
So, we’re going back to the classics, the heroines of theatre that we love the most. The women who have never had a full voice and we’re going to give them an arena style modern treatment.
Tell me a little more about this “battle royale”. Which characters are involved, and is there actual physical fighting, or would telling us spoil it? At the risk of stepping on your point, did you have a favourite character?
I can’t tell you that! Spoilers!
As far as favourites – no, I can’t pick one. They are all fascinating, and severely limited in their action.
This is what we want to talk about…
You’re collaborating with a lot of great creatives – how was the process of building this show with so many talented people? Did you find that the finished show was different from the original idea as the different collaborators brought different things to the mix?
The finished show is always different from the original idea, but that’s what makes it so exciting!
We are incredibly lucky to have an extraordinary team of designers, consultants and performers.
This year’s NEON festival is stacked with incredible female-led shows, including Shit and Calamity. Have you managed to see any of them? Any recommendations?
Yes! The line-up this year is really exciting. We’re in very good company.
Calamity was great fun and dealt with some issues that align closely with the ones we explore in our show. If you missed it, you missed out.
Shit is up next and I must admit this is the one I have been particularly excited about. Marcel and I are both big fans of Patricia Cornelius and Susie Dee. I imagine it will be honest, raw and important theatre. Everyone must book for that one.
And finally, Elbow Room is doing really well – have you already got new projects lined up? What do you think of the state of independent theatre at the moment?
We always have things on the go.
We are already gearing up for 2016, but later in the year we are remounting a show we created last year and taking it to Brisbane for the independent season at La Boite.
The independent scene in Melbourne is incredibly fertile and also beautifully supportive. I think we’re very lucky to have this community of artists sharing with and challenging each other.
What scares me is that some of these companies may feel an inability to keep creating and producing work because they are not being recognised as valid or eligible for support by our government.
We Get It plays at The Lawler – Southbank Theatre from 9 – 19 July, 2015. Tickets are $25, and you can book by calling 03 8688 0800, or online at www.mtc.com.au. For more on Elbow Room, check out Elbow Room Productions website.
On Sunday 12 July, there will be a post-show NEON CONVERSATION, Doll Parts: Feminism and Theatre in an Era of Borrowed Prestige. The panel includes Elbow Room and Clementine Ford.