Concluding the season for the inaugural Poppy Seed Festival is Vicky Jones’ award-winning hit The One – a viciously funny new play about Harry and Jo, a couple trapped in a violent and destructive cycle of co-dependent love and lust. Winning the Verity Bargate Award for new writing and premiering in 2014 to rave reviews, the show is 65 intense minutes of sex, violence and snack food and brutally asks ‘in the warfare of modern relationships, what are the rules of engagement?’ Beat had the chance to sit down with performer Kasia Kaczmarek (TV’s Wentworth) to have a chat about Fire Curtain Co’s new production at fortyfivedownstairs and what makes it such a fascinating show.
Set over one night, Kaczmarek explains that the show explores the dysfunctional relationship between a couple. Influenced by Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, “it’s about how two people who are completely addicted to each other, but are also incredibly damaging to each other, and how they function.
“It shows how female characters can exist on stage in a way that is still really engaging,” notes Kaczmarek of the shows importance. “In terms of the actual themes, it addresses taboo subjects like consent in relationships, violence in relationships, the line between consent and sexual assault and victim blaming and I think it will inspire conversation. I think it’s important in that way because it will make people talk about that stuff and make them go ‘Oh shit, when that person in that relationship did that to me, maybe that wasn’t okay and maybe I don’t always have to say yes, or maybe, when someone tells me about how they’re feeling, that the best response isn’t to go ‘Hang on, maybe you did something wrong’. I think that this show will definitely cause a lot of conversation and that there will be a lot of people that will be very offended, which is kind of exciting.”
With Poppy Seed being a brand new festival, Kaczmarek is incredibly excited to be part of such an exciting new initiative. “For starters, without massive government funding, I can’t imagine how I could potentially could have afforded to put on a play at fortyfivedownstairs, which is an incredible venue. It’s also been really lovely working with the other producers and getting to know the other artists and how they do things and just being able to go ‘Oh, have you guys thought of marketing this way’ or ‘We did this with our set’. It’s nice because, as artists, we often work in isolation until we go to see things and this has allowed us to interact while we’re still in the creative process.”
As a regular performer in Melbourne’s independent scene, Kaczmarek has a clear passion for what it has to offer both its creatives and its audiences. “I love how innovative it is and how you can see people really taking risks and experimenting. I also love how supportive we are here – I feel like Melbourne audiences are so willing to give something a go and to just go see a show and accept that it’s fringe and not to go ‘oh well this isn’t good enough’. I’ve just been up in Sydney and companies have to work a lot harder to win audiences over. There seems to be a vibe there where audiences are like ‘I’m here, entertain me’, whereas here people kind of go ‘I’m open’. I think that encourages more risk-taking and encourages more interesting work.”