Putting the Nation on Stage

Creative Futures : Erin Taylor

October 16, 2018

Erin Taylor from our Creative Futures Program takes us behind the scenes with her experience  of the rehearsal room for Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam.  

To work on the first production of a new Australian play is a rare gift. This one feels especially so as it is  a play full of tenderness and love. In many ways I am surprised that it has pushed its way to the front of all the plays competing for programming. It does not shout loudly for your attention on a zeitgeist issue, it does not stamp its feet with frenetic energy, rather it unfurls, like the memory and grief that it explores, gently at first, before snatching your breath away.

When I was approached to come aboard I had to think long and hard about this. Do I really want to spend all this time thinking of death and grief, a topic painfully close to me this year? But in meeting Darren Yap I was assured. He is a Director of exceptional sensitivity and care, for the work and for his team. The great Australian playwright Nick Enright, friend of Darren’s, suggested that the novel would make a good play. He was right.

And so we begin and, like all productions, we tell stories of our own experiences as we start to understand the play and its characters. In this case the stories are of grief, of nursing those close to us in their last days, of the fractured and fragile nature of loss and memory. We have been lucky to have Grace Truman in the cast whose experience of grief is recent and real, she offers her perspective with stunning clarity (do watch her show ‘Amazing Grace’). The salient fact that her character is named after a wise owl escapes no one.  To balance this we add levity with competitive board games, Darren’s unique metaphors and most importantly fart jokes. Always fart jokes.

This week we move into the theatre. Which can be a tough and tense week, but the love for this play, for Stevie & Peter’s words, from all the creatives is keeping the tiredness at bay.

I have learnt immensely from this generous creative team that collectively has wrought this production with much care and precision. Max Lambert, on the sound design team said sagely this week ‘The work must be its own reward.’ Meaning that the labour of love that is bringing new work to the stage must satiate you, the labour, not the fame, not the riches that will most likely never come. And for me, being a small part of this beautiful play, being locked in a rehearsal room for weeks, getting to know some talented creatives, some fart jokes- yes, this has been its own reward.

 

Erin Taylor is a Dramaturg, Director and Theatremaker. In 2018 she directed Everything You Ever Wanted by Rachel Roberts for the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and A Girl Is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride for KXT. In 2017 Erin was a mentee in Melbourne Theatre Company’s Women In Theatre Program. Her directing credits include a sell out return season of SLUT by Patricia Cornelius at The Old Fitz (nominated for a Sydney Theatre Award 2016) and BU21 by Stuart Slade at Old 505 Theatre in 2016. As a Dramaturg Erin works regularly with Playwriting Australia (PWA) as a Script Assessor and has read for Sydney Theatre Company’s Patrick White Award. A Graduate of the University of Wollongong Faculty of Creative Arts, Erin established the arts Collective Rue de Rocket with fellow graduates.

National Theatre of Parramatta is committed to capacity building in Western Sydney and has launched a Creative Futures Program for creatives, production and back stage opportunities. The scheme provides on the job learning and networking opportunities, enabling each participant to advance their careers within their nominated field.