Playwright Lally Katz will kick off the LOCAL programme at Metro Arts with 'The Eisteddfod', set in the suburbs of Australia with darkly funny undertones.
'The Eisteddfod' navigates love, longing and ambition through the eyes of orphaned siblings Abalone and Gerture as they construct a world of dysfunctional fantasy after the death of their parents.
Here, Lally Katz talks more about what to expect in the show.
Tell us a little bit about ‘The Eisteddfod'.
I wrote 'The Eisteddfod' in 2005. A long time ago! I wrote it for Stuck Pigs Squealing Theatre Company, who I collaborated with very closely. I was living in London at the time and would send them scenes and then they would send me emails asking for more scenes or giving me instructions. None of us quite knew what it would it would be, we were just following our instincts and what we wanted to make.
Some of your work tends to have quite dark themes that are confronted in a way that is quite the opposite to that. Why do you do this?
It's not really deliberate. I guess to me life is a mixture of dark and sweet and kind and cruel and funny. So that's what my imagination reflects. In my experience, the saddest things in life are also the funniest things. I've also found wonderful things follow terrible things. I don't think there's really any rules, but that's the pattern I've often read into my own life.
Where did the idea for this show come from?
The Director of the first production, way back in 2005 wanted to do a show about an eisteddfod. I didn't even know what an eisteddfod was. But I had always been super interested in ambition and also in creating your own world through imagination. A lot of the kinds of romantic relationships I was having during the time of my writing it also became a big inspiration. It came in lots of little ideas. Dreams, a painful end to a relationship, hearing a fire alarm going off all night, conversations, stories from my neighbourhood growing up.
Lally Katz - Image © Heidrun Lohr
Who is the ideal audience for ‘The Eisteddfod’? Who would it mean the most to?
That's always hard for me to say. I wrote it when I was 25, so maybe there's something about that age that it will speak to. But at the same time, to me, there's never really an ideal audience – all audiences are ideal.
Can you draw on any personal experience in terms of the plot or even any of the characters?
I always thought of the two main characters being a little bit like two different parts of me. Abalone, the brother is full of bravado, ambition and fear and Gerture, the sister is full of longing, aching and desire, but then ultimately, ambition too. There are parts of it that are just lifted out of my dating life back then. But a lot of it is the conversation going on between two halves of my head at that age. And other parts are sad stories I heard growing up in my cul-de-sac.
Is there a certain way you’d like audience members to feel what leaving ‘The Eisteddfod’?
I hope they feel like they've been somewhere interesting and been with characters that they liked and who made them think. With anything I ever do, I just want the audience to feel they've come on a journey.
In turn, what have been some of the greatest rewards seeing the show grow and become what it is now?
It’s an incredible honour for me that a play I wrote thirteen years ago is still capturing the imaginations of theatre makers. It means the world to me that they are inspired and want to put all the blood, sweat, time and tears into it that I well know a play will take.
Describe the show in five words.
Surreal story of love and ambition. That's six. Sorry!