"Angsty, energetic, a slap to the face and a punch to the gut", WHAT OF IT? opens at Explosives Factory next week. Playwright and director Rebecca Fingher joined us to break down her gender-swapped and highly energetic comedy, playing from 20 August - 9 September.
Q: What was the catalyst for creating What of It?
A: I remember having my morning coffee whilst reading an article in The West Australian about six private school boys who had beaten a 21-year-old man into a coma just to steal his shoes. Like what? Did I just read that right? I was 20 when I began writing WHAT OF IT and I was already scared of most of the men older than me. Now it felt like I had good reason to be scared of the ones younger than me too.
I was consuming a lot of theatre/art at that time that was telling me how hard it is to be a woman. Like, duh? I am one. I know! And I can admit that those works were, in their own right, fantastic and necessary, but I was craving something that was bit less apologetic and got to the crux of the problem. To me, WHAT OF IT is exactly that.
Q: What are some key themes explored in this work?
A: I have a fundamental belief that everybody is trying their best. I am; you are; the person you pass on the street is; the person next to you on the bus is; everyone. I also believe that trying your best looks different to each individual. Every character in this work is doing what they think is right. They’re trying – whether that looks like taking up space on the street, or getting a shag, or holding their friends as close as possible through the means of subjugation. Of course, I believe very strongly that certain actions are completely wrong and inexcusable, but what I’m asking in this work is how can we help these people who don’t know any other way to be? How can we help them be more than the kid that steals shoes? That harasses others? That takes more than they give? How can we help them be more than that?
Q: What's been a highlight of the development and rehearsal period so far?
A: Well, rehearsing over zoom has been chaotic. But! Even still, everyone has developed such an incredible bond even just being on camera, so I can only imagine what this is going to feel like when we are all in a room together. Honestly, the performers are sensational, and their work ethic has been out of this world. Just watching them laugh and play with the text and come up with new ideas that we hadn’t seen in the original version has been overwhelmingly exciting. There’s a buzz in the air in every rehearsal. I can tell that these guys (and myself) can’t wait to light up that stage. We know what we’ve got is something special and we can’t wait to share it.
Q: How would you describe your work's aesthetic?
A: Angsty, energetic, a slap to the face and a punch to the gut. The text is rhythmic, poetic, and casual all at the same time. You’ll be laughing one minute, and on edge the next. Honestly, it’s overwhelmingly raw and real. It’s like taking a person you’ve passed on the street for a minute, and then getting to see who they really are. It’s filled with empathy, whilst also not holding back from asking more from all of us.
Q: If you could invite anyone to What Of It, who would it be?
A: Females and people in the queer community will froth this work. However, I’m also really keen to see some more young cis men walk through those theatre doors. Don’t be scared, you’ll love it – it’s for you too. If you like to laugh and cry at the same time, then this work is for you (yes, young cis men – you’re allowed to cry too! Wild!). I don’t think you’ll see another work like this for a while, and I think that shows from selling out our season in Perth through word of mouth alone. So, if you’re tossing up whether or not to buy a ticket – I’d grab one sooner rather than later. I promise it’ll be worth it.