"It’s an amazing time for queer and female representation because we’re fInally are at the helm of own storytelling, which means we have this ever-expanding multiplicity of complex characters showing up and subverting everything we’ve been conditioned to expect from them." Playwright Amy May Nunn (Theatre Works She Writes and Associate Artist alumni) tells us about their latest play LEMON TREE ON DREG STREET slated to premiere at Theatre Works as part of Midsumma Festival.
Q: What can you tell us about the play?
A: It’s bitter-sweet, dreamy and very heightened! I like to think of it like an adult storybook. Kind of like A.A. Milne but with queerness, gentrification and swearing. You’ll meet a host of larger-than-life characters living in a ramshackle house on the outskirts of a city that’s slowly but surely being gobbled up by developers. Each of them is grappling with the idea of home and family in their own ways. At the centre of everything is this strange and I hope unexpectedly tender wedding between a woman and lemon tree.
Q: What inspired you to write this play?
A: Like a lot of people, I was prone to fits of intense nostalgia during the lockdowns, so this play emerged from a very heart-stricken, hazy, backwards-looking place. I was living in Collingwood at the time, which has been totally subsumed by gentrification, so those themes started dripping into the world, and from there an exploration of home, family and belonging came into focus. It’s a love-letter to a misspent youth, to places we make sacred, queer family, friendship, endings, and beginnings.
Q: What has been the highlight of the development process so far?
A: The brilliant Miranda Middleton led a development that culminated in a beautiful staged reading earlier in the year, and seeing those characters come to life with the insanely talented cast she put together, was totally electric. It gave me such an invaluable burst of fuel to go back and knead the script.
Q: What interests you most about the representation of queer and female characters in your work?
A: It feels incredibly exciting and important to use the agency we’re starting to have to illuminate a whole spectrum of stories and characters that have literally been kept in the dark. It’s an amazing time for queer and female representation because we’re finally are at the helm of own storytelling, which means we have this ever-expanding multiplicity of complex characters showing up and subverting everything we’ve been conditioned to expect from them.
Q: What can you tell us about the integration of poetry, music, ritual and revelry in the show?
A: The play is inherently poetic, but not necessary in the ways you might expect. Literally, in the sense that characters occasionally burst into poetry, but there’s also poetry in the whole atmosphere of the play. It’s a kind of a hodgepodge of textures all woven into the lining of the world. Miranda has done such a beautiful job of seamlessly integrating those elements to create something truly original and joyful.
Q: If there was one wedding guest you could invite, who would it be?
A: I think it would have to be one of the many queer-coded characters from Sesame Street, which feels weirdly connected to the world of Dreg Street. I’m going to say Big Bird, because I personally think of them as a queer icon and I think they’d fit right in. Also, I’d love to hang with them after a few prosecco’s. LEMON TREE ON DREG STREET
By Amy May Nunn 27 January - 4 February Theatre Works