"Both drawn towards theatre that is heightened, wacky, and above all magical, we wanted to tell a story close to home about the disordered eating that affects so many people in our lives and around the world (over one million people in Australia alone)." We chat with Pear-Shaped co-writers, Miranda Middleton and Ziggy Resnick, just one week out from their world premiere at Theatre Works.
Q: What is Pear-Shaped about in a nutshell? A: At its heart, ‘Pear-Shaped’ is about the relationship between Frankie and Kayla - a somewhat estranged pair of siblings who are trying to salvage the relationship they once had. Charting the effect that Kayla’s eating disorder has on her connection to family and culture, it is a non-linear, genre-bending piece of theatre that traverses the past, present and an imagined space somewhere in between.
Q: How did this collaboration as co-writers come about?
A: We met working on Miranda’s original adaptation of ‘Amélie’ at NIDA (which Ziggy starred in), and upon graduating into a Covid-riddled world, started dreaming into what our next artistic collaboration could be. Both drawn towards theatre that is heightened, wacky, and above all magical, we wanted to tell a story close to home about the disordered eating that affects so many people in our lives and around the world (over one million people in Australia alone).
Q: Pear-Shaped interweaves scenes from Lewis Carroll’s classic books to tell a new story. What drew you both to Carroll's stories as inspiration for this work?
A: Throughout the writing process, 'Alice in Wonderland’ revealed itself as the perfect metaphor for the non-sensical ways in which eating disorders manifest in people’s brains and bodies. The constant changes in Alice’s size, characters’ fascination with food, as well as Lewis Carroll’s wonderful wordplay and surreal style, have given us a sometimes dark, sometimes delicious theatrical world to play in.
Q: What does co-authoring a play entail?
A: As Ziggy likes to put it, their brain works in squiggles, while Miranda’s brain works in lines. Co-authoring the play has allowed us both to bring our strengths as writers to the (Mad Hatter’s) table and given us the privilege of having another person to rein the other in, pull them out of a rabbit hole, or give them a loving kick up the bum. In other words, co-authoring this play has meant millions of voice messages, thousands of drafts, hundreds of zoom calls across border lines, many a lockdown walk, a few tears, and a LOT of silliness.
Q: What have you most enjoyed about the development and rehearsal process so far? A: For Ziggy, the highlight has been finally being in the room with our other amazing actor, Luisa, and allowing the words that we’ve lovingly laboured over for three years come to life in unexpected and wacky ways. Similarly, Miranda is relishing the process of working with the rest of the talented creative team to support the cast’s tender and hilarious performances through design, lighting, video projection, and original composition. It’s very much a co-parented theatrical baby now and that’s extremely exciting for us.
Q: What kind of conversations do you hope a work like Pear-Shaped will ignite amongst theatregoers?
A: Eating disorders are a taboo subject, even in 2023 - despite their alarming prevalence. ‘Pear-Shaped’ doesn’t give any answers but it aims to question the world's skewed perceptions of “wellness”, dieting, exercise and body image. We’re using humour, specificity, culture and theatre magic to give audiences a nuanced and true-to-life glimpse into an incredibly complex and individualised illness. Ultimately we hope that ‘Pear-Shaped’ inspires people to get help if they need it, and have the tricky but vital conversations that Frankie and Kayla spend 75 minutes trying to have.
PEAR-SHAPED by Miranda Middleton & Ziggy Resnick
5-15 April | Theatre Works BOOK HERE