Sarah Hamilton and Andi Snelling have both been performing in the Melbourne theatre scene for years to rave reviews and awards. In the lead up to their opening of their upcoming shows, Maggie Journal had the chance to sit down with these two talented women and discuss their love of theatre and the awesomeness that is Melbourne Fringe.
Andi, what was the inspiration behind your Fringe show Dear Diary and what is it about?
I’ve been wanting to do a one woman show for a lot longer than my consciousness has realised – I think my sub-conscious has been saying for a while ‘you should do a one woman show’.
I lived overseas in Europe for 7 years and when I first came back, I did that whole thing of stay with your parents. Part of that was being back in my old bedroom and discovering old things such as a case full of all my old diaries. At the time, when I first saw this old box, I thought that I didn’t actually want to read them. It was only for some unknown reason at the start of this year, I just suddenly had an urge to read them.
Literally, after reading the first page of the first one, I thought that this could be a show because how rare is it to be able to step back into your past and to have such uncensored access to your past.
The show is about our endless search for identity and, how we, as humans, are constantly trying to work out who we are. I have the same questions now that I had when I was 9 and I find that fascinating.
Sarah, can you tell us more about your show They Saw a Thylacine which premiered at Fringe in 2013 and is opening at Malthouse Theatre this September? What inspired you and Justine to tell this story?
Thylacine is a two-handed story telling show, created and performed by Justine Campbell and myself. It’s based on the last Tasmanian Tigers. Justine and I were drawn to telling a story about extinction and a story about women who fought against the discrimination of their gender.
The stories we tell are drawn from true events. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with the thylacine. I grew up in Tassie, and spent summer holidays in the bush collecting suspected thylacine droppings. My grandpa found a drowned thylacine on a beach when he was four. My great, great aunt photographed a thylacine, and the images now haunt museums. My parents swear they saw one cross a road in the 80s.
What is it you love about theatre?
Andi: I love the immediacy of theatre and I love the fact that you really do feel your mortality when you’re on stage and if anything goes wrong, there is nothing I can do about it. There is something really exhilarating about that and it’s a feeling that I don’t really get from any other aspect of my life.
Sarah: I love stories. I love the power theatre has to make us laugh, think, care, and provoke us to create change. I love that theatre can host big conversations. I love that theatre can be magical, pretend, silly and profound. I love the relationship between performer and audience. Theatre moves me and challenges me to be my best.
What do you think makes Melbourne Fringe as special as it is?
A: First of all, the fact that it’s in Melbourne! I find Melbourne, even when compared to other cities in the world, really has it going on in terms of theatre culture. So I think that Fringe time in Melbourne is a little bit more extra special because it’s the one time that you get everyone coming out en masse to embrace all that is Melbourne independent theatre. I like that there are little pockets of Melbourne that come alive – the Butterfly Club where I’m performing has 23 shows in that venue alone and it makes me feel that I get to be part of another mini hub. It really is a time when anything goes.
S: Melbourne Fringe has had a profound impact on my journey as an artist. I have made two new works for the Fringe – and felt supported and challenged to take risks. The staff are artists themselves and are so generous with their advice and guidance. The forums are outstanding and really taught me how to be a producer, which fostered my courage and drive to take my work interstate and overseas. Melbourne Fringe is such a great platform for bringing artists together, while Fringe Club provides an excellent place to network, dance, despair and celebrate. I’m all gushy now. I love the Melbourne Fringe.
What are you most looking forward to seeing in Fringe this year?
A: Gorilla, Lovely Gorilla because Michelle Nussey has that perfect mix of sly comedy and grounded storytelling. Oh, and I get what it’s like to work at a zoo.Welcome to Nowhere because just look at that list of incredible playwrights! And Wash Your Kids in Orange Juice because my childhood!
S: I can’t wait to see Michelle Nussey’s play Gorilla, Lovely Gorilla. Nussey is such an enigmatic performer. I am fascinated in the subject matter too – ‘what dilemmas do homo-sapiens face as they both love and kill other species that share the planet?’