Home. Friday 29th May. 2015. I’m sitting on my couch. A fire is burning. A pot of tea brews. “Turn pot seven times. Strain. Add milk. No sugar”. Cakes are cooking in the oven. I love baking. It makes me feel at home. The HOME team has been exploring home and what it means for five years now, although I have been making homes all my life. I move furniture on a weekly basis — a change of furniture is like a new house I think as I move our bedroom furniture into the lounge room (just for fun)– what it does is awaken me. I see things differently. I notice a painting I haven’t noticed in a while. I see the sunlight through the windows differently–but today I am not moving furniture. I am drinking tea and I am baking as I contemplate the upcoming few weeks.
We have just finished our first week of rehearsal, to reacquaint ourselves, and rewrite some of the script HOME. The last time I performed HOME was in July 2012 when we were part of the La Boite Independent season. HOME has been lucky, it was birthed at Metro Arts in the city, moved up the hill to La Boite and has now crossed the river to the new Studio Theatre at The Greenhouse, our QTC home. It has been developed in Chicago, Mexico, Brisbane and Perth.
Leah Mercer, our long term collaborator, lives in Perth so we have to be very strategic regarding rehearsals. Leah came to Brisbane last week and we worked on HOME at Metro Arts, where my company 4change is Company in Residence. This is the first time we have tried to co-direct together. Usually Leah is director (Leah directed HOME at La Boite and Eve at Metro Arts) and I am writer/performer. But each time we do shows we like to shake things up a bit and learn new ways of doing things. I think it is working well, though the final week will be handed back to Leah to make the final decisions as I concentrate on my performance.
HOME could never have been created without the liaison between Leah and myself. We are so different, yet seem to bring out the best in each other’s work. Leah is calmer than I am, so her calmness and my enthusiasm complement each other. We question each other’s choices, we unpack conflicts and we celebrate successes. It is not always easy, with such distance between us. Invariably we struggle, yet the struggle seems to result in work that is rigorous and challenging.
Leah returns in July to rehearse for two weeks before our two week season. Bev Jensen, our visual artist has created a truly sensational set. It is made of perspex and projections and at the end of the show we invite the audience to come and wander through it, touching and appreciating the hundreds of hours that have gone into the engraving and etchings. The set is an art installation and would be equally at home in an art gallery. But we are lucky to have it in our QTC Studio for the month of July.
And i am once again working with my youngest son, Travis who returned from studying in Spain so he could participate again in HOME. It is a joy to work with him. He is such a generous actor and we have a great short hand. He has been working with me in various shows much of his life so we are used to playing on stage together. This season of HOME sees him rewrite most of his social and political monologues that he delivers throughout the show, as a counter balance to my domestic stories. I love what he has written…I think you will too.
These next few weeks will be spent learning lines, planning our HOME workshops (come on, I dare you! Enrol in a fabulous few hours of deliciousness!) and getting ready for moving into the theatre space, alongside our other commitments. Productions are never done in a vacuum and my husband Bill will be as involved in the show as he can be, helping me remember my lines, making me green smoothies and generally nurturing me in-between his corporate meetings and working trips. As you can read between the lines, my theatre work is not a separate beast. It breathes beside my private life, enriching and counterpointing, challenging and creating cacophony at times. But always welcomed.
The HOME team has been warmly welcomed into QTC as we prepare for our audience: an assortment of teas have been tested by Deidrie and Shari, along with little cakes and biscuits. We are all excited about hosting our audiences and I am hoping that QTC’s subscribers are well aware that: “This is your show. Your time to perform if you want to–no pressure, only if it feels right.. Come and relax and be nurtured for an hour or so”. We can’t wait to welcome you, our first audience members, to drink tea with you, laugh with you and share your stories. Bring your friends. After all it is a family affair!