Allee Richards‘ stagewriting debut 'Plastic’ will be performed as part of a double bill with Theatre 451 in April 2014. She spoke with Writers Victoria theatre intern John Back about writing for stage for the first time and the transformation of text to speech.
Why is theatre important to you?
I’m passionate about stories so I love theatre, literature and film. Theatre is particularly awesome because it requires a lot of creativity on the actors' and viewers' part to believe that a stage, one corner of the room you are in, is a different place entirely. This is especially the case in low-budget theatre, where sets are basic at best.
What kind of journey led you to write your first play ‘Plastic’?
‘Plastic’ was originally written as a short story. I turned two of my short stories into scripts when I saw Theatre451’s call out for submissions. ‘Plastic’ is a much stronger story with just dialogue and without inner-monologue. Since the short story was written in first person originally, I feel like it wouldn’t have been published had it stayed as text on a page.
What is the experience like as a writer when your words are being spoken by someone else?
At first I found it jarring because the script was being read faster than I had imagined it would be. But the director and actors had their motivation for doing it this way, so I got used to it. I’ve been in workshops before where people read your work and give you feedback; sometimes people can take a different meaning from your work than you intended. After a workshop you have the ability to redraft something and try to force your exact idea on a reader, but I see ‘Plastic’ as the director’s project now, not mine.
Theatre 451’s performances take place in fairly alternative venues. How did that change your writing?
Originally ‘Plastic’ had three different settings. For Theatre 451 it has been narrowed down to one: a young girl’s apartment. I’ve been told the girl will be wearing pyjamas. I think this invites the audience to picture the home setting just as adequately as if there was a designed space with a couch and a kitchen sink.
Your advice for someone thinking about writing for stage?
Watch lots of theatre and write down everything your friends say.
About Allee Richards
Allee Richards is a first-time playwright with an upcoming production with Theatre 451. Her essays, reviews and interviews have been published in ‘The Victorian Writer’, ‘Farrago’, ‘Lip’ mag and on the New South Wales Writers' Centre and ‘Meanjin’ websites. She is currently working on a second playscript.