Director's Notes - The Mares

Kate Mulvany has reimagined a foundation myth, blending narratives from across Greek mythology to give us a new version of Demi-Gods and indomitable Queens, in order to re-examine the most ancient of battles: the battle of the sexes. 


Placing warrior women at the centre of the story, imagine, Kate proposed, if these legendary figures had existed and were brutal, fierce, trouser wearing, spear wilding, loyal, protective beings who offered a sanctuary to women, away from the confines of gender and from gender-based violence? And what if their notoriety extended so far and wide, that men desired to fight, abduct, conquer and kill them, to prove their metal and claim their stakes as the toughest of them all.  


And then, Kate asked: what if, in 2019, female identifying folk knew about, and could draw from these legends? Imagine if we could harness the mighty power of these women, because it existed within us, an ancient power that stemmed, deep, from the fury and strength of those who had come before? Imagine if we’d known about them all along? If we worshiped and paid homage to them?  What power would that hold for us today? How high would we hold our heads, knowing that we had arisen from these fierce warriors?  


Interrogating the origin of these myths and being asked to reengage with them in 2019 has been a sobering experience.  Just like our sisters who came before, our sisters today continue to live within the shadow of men. To lay a claim on these legendary figures, to bring them to the stage and breath life into them through the body of the actor, has been a great gift, and a thrilling opportunity to unpack, question and dismantle the gender binary.


Kate is one of many great writers carving out space through story to refocus the female identifying experience and address the ongoing confines of masculinity and femininity. In the long tradition of feminist theatre, Kate has exploited the full power of theatre, so we may bear witness to some shameful truths about what we do to each other and the great power imbalances that still dictates our existence.


I want to thank Charlie Parkinson (ex AD of TTC) for commissioning Kate for this work, having identified the need to do so when he could not find a play fit for the best female actresses in this State to perform. I want to thank the cast, Jane Longhurst, Jane Johnson, Mel King, Ben Winspear and Sara Cooper for their unwavering belief in the power of the writing, and their willingness to put all of themselves into the material. The creative team, Jill Munro (set and costumes), Jess Dunn (composition) and Nic Higgins (Lighting) with the support of Max Ford who’ve worked tirelessly to deliver a cohesive and evocative world for us to live out this story. And finally, I want to thank Adam (Gus) Powers, TTC’s Artistic Director, who’s quiet dedication and constant support and encouragement, has allowed us all to bring out our best, for you, our audience.


Enjoy The Mares.  

Director's Notes - Random

I’ve decided to start logging my director’s notes here.

these are my directors notes for Random by debbie tucker green which played at Downstairs Belvoir, November 2018.

I first came cross random on a hot summer’s afternoon in London in 2009. It was my first time at the National Theatre Bookshop, and I was surrounded by all the best new plays that Europe had to offer. Something drew me to debbie’s play random. I recall a quick flick through its pages. I was struck by the play’s form – a monologue poem for four distinct voices, Sister, Brother, Mum, Dad – to be performed by one black actress. I made myself comfortable on the floor and read it. I recall being completely caught up in the quotidian lives of this very relatable family. I also remember the lump in my throat as a random act of violence shattered the humdrum of their ordinary lives, altered forever between breakfast and lunch. My impulse to stage it kicked in immediately. I walked to the counter, paid for the play, and wrote an email to Zahra back home. I said ‘I’m sending you a play. We’re doing it.’

A year later, we were touring random to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Though our little independent production punched way above its weight, nobody really saw it. The show was relegated to ‘theatre for young audiences’ – often where the best, most innovative theatre is happening – but where only those lucky kids with devoted drama teachers get to experience it. Eamon Flack was one of the few general public members who came along to support this work. Sitting among rowdy Year Nine students at the Sydney Opera House, Eamon got to know and feel for this British-Caribbean family, and he and I have been discussing bringing this show back for general audiences ever since.

debbie tucker green (who spells her name in lower case) is Britain’s leading black female playwright. random was her response to what was considered an epidemic of teenage knife crimes in London between 2007 and 2008.

All too often in Australia we hear of the king-hit that ends a young man’s life, or the brutal knife attack between teens, or the one too many (young) women raped and murdered on our streets. Often the coverage of these tragic events is brief and, when it does stir the public’s interest, it’s usually because some politician has loaded it with prejudices by pointing the finger at a cultural group and their often-tenuous association to ‘gang violence’.

The power of debbie’s random lies in her capacity to cut through the noise and ‘issues’ with compassion and empathy, utilising the full power of theatre combined with soaring poetic writing to encapsulate the very essence of senseless loss for a family and a community. We bear witness to something too familiar, anew.

It is a great privilege to return to this work, which, 10 years on, still speaks with fierce immediacy, passion and clarity of vision.

Leticia Cáceres, Sydney, Australia.