The subject of fertility is one that is rarely brought up in conversation within Australia. When Emma Wood set out writing Water Child, she aimed to address the quiet stigma that surrounds the issues of fertility problems and miscarriages, and instead instil the suggestion that it is okay to talk about it.
Wood has a strong background within both acting and directing. Despite never having a desire to be a writer, she found herself sitting down and coming up with the first scene of Water Child on the spur of the moment. “I literally just woke up one night and sat down at the computer and wrote a scene,” she said. With a penchant for dialogue, a strength of any stage production, this spur of the moment writing led to numerous awards for the finished piece. “Maybe it came out as a play rather than a book – somehow the dialogue came naturally to me.”
Water Child focuses upon the stigma of miscarriage and fertility – topics that many find uncomfortable or uneasy about bringing up, even many who have experienced them. “So many people have issues and don’t speak about. The play tries to depict how they feel and don’t wish to speak about it – others around them are uncomfortable and you just don’t talk about it. I’ve seen people on social media go on more about the death of a dog than the loss of a pregnancy.”
Wood’s continues with the story of her own miscarriage, which allowed her a deeper understanding of what numerous women go through every day, “It was only when I had a miscarriage that I realised how many were struggling with it, I become part of almost a silent sorority. It’s shrouded in shame and secrecy; it’s a real grief – a very common grief. “
The themes of Water Child follows this: a couple that find themselves unable to conceive, and the hidden guilt and shame that it carries with it. The struggles that the characters within the play go through are intended to replicate that of so many individuals in real life. “I deliberately end it on a vague note with no clear resolution to whether there will be a child in their lives. Because couples can go on forever trying, it can bring trouble to them and cause issues. I know of people who have literally stopped speaking to friends who have children because the grief is too much.”
As a first play, Wood’s has clearly triumphed with Water Child – and the resounding success of her second play, Mr Bennet’s Bride, proves that it wasn’t simply beginner’s luck either. Opposite the rather emotional story of Water Child, Mr Bennet’s Bride is instead a comedic drama, intended as a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and focusing upon both Mr and Mrs Bennet and the odd, mismatched couple they make. “It’s really great. It’s so much fun to see and to act in with such good characters to play around with. To write them as young people was just so much fun.”
Wood’s currently has a third play she is working on – another comedic drama titled The Third Act. With a protagonist in her 60’s, this one gives Wood the chance to really focus on what she wants to achieve with her writing, “I started writing because I wanted to write some better older roles for older woman. My real goal is to write empowering roles for women of all ages.”
Water Child is being presented in Melbourne by Pawprint Productions from 1st – 9th of September at Crossroads Uniting Church. Tickets can be purchased here.