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BWW Previews: THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE at Cookery At Girls' School

Vivienne Walshe tale of teenagers in rural Australia comes to Fringeworld Perth before heading to Melbourne Fringe

BWW Previews: THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE at Cookery At Girls' School Following a muted 2021, Perth Fringeworld is all set to burst back in 2022 with a dazzling array of acts from around Australia and the world. As always, though, there will be a swag of local talent on display too, and the Fremantle based Feet First Collective will use local actors to stage an Australian play called THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE. Director and Feet First founder Teresa Izzard took a break from rehearsals to discuss the show and what Fringe and 2022 has in store.

"Without getting too much into it, it's a show about love," said Teresa on the story of THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE. "There's a touch of the classic two lovers from different sides of the tracks, but it doesn't follow the classic and focused storyline from there. As the performance goes on layers are removed and find out more about the characters, more about how they got to where they are, and they find out these things about each other." Whilst the play seems to follow a cliched love story at first, there are in fact classic themes in it, and in some ways it is an allegory of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In the myth, Orpheus travels to the underworld to reclaim his love, and can leave with her on the condition that he not look back at her until they're back. "There's no mythical gods or powers in the story, so I wouldn't say it's based on the myth of Orpheus. In the play, Chloe and Chris aren't just from different parts of town, they're from entirely different worlds. The play does a lot to explore how two people from the same place can lead two entirely different lives and have entirely different understandings of life. The boy, Chris, is from wealth and privilege and knows he need only turn up to succeed. The girl, Chloe, has had to fight for everything she has, and she's lost a lot of battles along the way. The classic love story simply says the two will accept all these things and live happily ever after, but what we see is the two of them both grappling with their own identity and views of the world and how pursuing this love will alter that. On one had there is this touch of the mythical, Chloe is from the underworld if you will and Chris is very much from the overworld, but this struggle within them both is very real."

BWW Previews: THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE at Cookery At Girls' School

Whilst Izzard has a wealth of experience in most facets of theatre, she is a movement specialist and this features in her role as director. "There's performances where I will just focus on movement, but this isn't one of those. I don't want to just be a movement director and miss out on all the other parts of the show. I was drawn to this script primarily by the words and as I began to unpack the play I began to see what would need to go into it and what the performers would need to do. For some scenes I have spent time ensuring the actors are conveying in their movements that extra bit to convey more feeling." Of course, THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE is still a theatre piece rather than a movement piece. "It's theatre and it has all those parts that I need to think about as a director," said Izzard when considering the scope of the piece. "We are fortunate at Feet First Collective to have Donald Woodburn as vocal coach, and he is a big proponent of the power of words. He's worked with the performers too to ensure that how they are speaking is adding another layer, and as I said it was the words of the show that drew me to it in the first place. It really works well though, especially for a setting like Fringe. We don't want to be setting up and packing away an elaborate set for every show, so we can allow ourselves to be minimalist with props and backgrounds if the performers are making their actions and words are powerful. It makes it cheaper, too!" she added with a laugh.

Indeed, portability was another of Teresa's considerations when she decided to take on THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE. The show was originally set for a run at Melbourne Fringe after running in Perth last year, but last year being last year put a stop to that. The show is once again booked to go to Melbourne Fringe, with a lot more optimism surrounding it this time. "Obviously having to cancel the show as well as the tour is a kick in the guts that we all felt. We had a successful tour in Adelaide Fringe in 2020 of another show so we were excited to take this further too. Being able to come back to it and get excited again has added to the show though. We've had more time for rehearsals and discussions and we're all really excited to finally get it out there."

THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE is at Cookery at The Girls' School as part of Perth Fringe World and runs from February 8th through 13th. Tickets and more info at Fringe World Perth.

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