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In conversation with April Albert

"Sometimes it was dialogue that I as a Mum found incredibly difficult to have with him, but through the process of creating this show we have had it, on and off stage." Writer, producer and performer April Albert on her auto-fictional play Beast In The Room, that features April and her teenage son showing coming to Theatre Works 20 - 28 March.


Q: Without giving away too many spoilers, what is Beast In The Room, about?

 

A: Beast in the Room is an exploration of loss, hope and a mother-son relationship. How do we tell our stories to the next generation? The story explores themes of transformation, resilience, and the search for utopia amidst darkness. Through a blend of auto-fictional storytelling, theatrical devising, and conversation, the audience is taken on a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of how individuals cope with loss and find solace for the future generation. It highlights the spirit of connection of a real life mother and son relationship, something rarely explored on stage. Ultimately, it shows the power and vitality of the human spirit and asks what are the enduring and tangible imprints that trauma leaves behind?

 

Q: What inspired the creation of Beast In The Room?


A: Beast was inspired by a few things, a real life tragedy that happened to my family, wanting to do a project with my child, and struggling to parent the last decade whilst so many traumatic events happen around you. I was ultimately trying to talk about my own trauma together with the collective trauma of the world. I grew up in the theatre and was always doing shows with my father, who is a director. Artistic processes are incredibly important and beneficial to children (and all humans) and I wanted my child, who is not a performer, to experience those processes with me.


Also, I could see the sort of patriarchal wall that a lot of boys going through puberty in Australia seem to get...that window when kids go from being really open and vulnerable to starting to build up defences and the arts can help to break down those walls and help create healthier, more open dialogue. Sometimes it was dialogue that I as a Mum found incredibly difficult to have with him, but through the process of creating this show we have had it, on and off stage. Jule never showed a lot of interest in performing, but he wrote a lot and told funny stories as a little boy, so it started there and has grown and emerged as he has grown. He just turned 17 and we are finally telling this story together.


Q: What has been a highlight about the development and rehearsal process so far?


A: Definitely working with my son and so many talented people who have helped support us in the telling of this story. It takes a village to raise a child and it has literally taken a village to raise this show! My creative team are so talented and this show has helped me to trust my intuition even more. I have surrounded myself with the right people and it has fallen into place. But the stand out highlight for me, was finding the joy in the telling of it, because it is a dark tale.


Q: Can you provide some insight on what it has been like to wear the hat of writer, producer and performer (all at once)?


A: Yes, don't do it kids!! It is tricky because ultimately, there is no one better to talk about or produce my work than me. But this is my third show and somehow it has been the most difficult. The other shows, it was just me, we took our time with creating them, they had the right life cycles. I could leisurely take them on tour and it wasn't that stressful...but because my child is with me for this one, I have had another level of worry and anxiety....am I giving him agency? Is this too dark for him? Will he learn his lines? How will he react to a sea of people when we are on stage? The list goes on and on. But also, at every turn I have needed to come back to trust in what my team (and many helpful artists along the way) and I have done. We have built this show around him not being a performer and created a safe space and he has thrived in it so far. 


Q: What do you hope people talk about on their way home from seeing Beast In The Room?


A: The power of love, the importance of telling our stories and the importance of listening to each other.





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