Sport for Jove and She Said are the companies that are bringing to life a story inspired by Australia’s very own settler history.
The play ‘Fallen’ follows the journey of six women and their promise of a second chance in Australia. Through the exciting, boundary-pushing play we learn what cost this desired clean slate comes at for each of the women. The idea to create this story was sparked by an interview heard by Seanna van Helten, the play's writer. She used that and began her own research.
“I first heard about the history of the home (Urania Cottage) through a radio interview. The home, which Charles Dickens founded is often seen as side note in his biography. It’s never really been an aspect of large interest,” she says.
“It caught my attention for two reasons. The first being that here is house that is full of women with secrets they have to keep in order to have this clean slate. The other aspect was the Australian connection. Once I started doing the research I started to think about what it would’ve meant to these women to immigrate with the hopes of a fresh start, but in order to have that they had to give up their past and never speak of it again. Which I think is almost impossible because our past always come back to us.”
Seanna is not only the writer but also the co-director of the company She Said. She explains why this story is perfect to showcase the company: “The piece has been a long time in the works and I think it’s a good example of the company. The story is driven by the idea that there is always an overlooked perspective. This play uncovers the home and discovers it only through the eyes of the women. The majority of the cast and crew are women."
Image © Sarah Walker
"This story shows the diversity of Australia that hasn’t been told, we want to reshape the industry. 'Fallen' is perfect for the company, because it explores the journey of these women and the oppression that is structural which makes it so much harder to break from.”
As this is a new work for the company and actors, Seanna has a real passion in her voice as she talks the important and collaborative relationship between all parties.
“It is very collaborative. Because it’s a new work I’m at a lot of the rehearsals. I’m there a lot more and for longer periods of time because we are still in the development phase. During the development I really value the actors' contributions to their characters. The questions they have raised are very intriguing, and have helped shape the characters and give them a real voice. We have been very blessed to find such amazing actors that help shape the company.”
With the play opening shortly, Seanna talks about her hopes for the audiences: “I hope that it excites people and it’s something they have never seen before. It’s a play just about six women which we don’t often see even in this day and age. I hope it opens the doors to what people think about stories and how we tell Australian stories. I also hope it encourages people to re-think our Australian history.”