Backstage

Interview with Bridget Mackey | Playwright Kindness

Kindness Playwright Bridget Mackey
Kindness Playwright Bridget Mackey

This July-August, some of Australia’s most innovative emerging playwrights will premiere at Theatre Works as part of FLIGHT Festival of New Writing. A new initiative, developed in partnership with The Victorian College of the Arts, FLIGHT is a mini- season of Australian works by writers who have completed the VCA Masters In Writing For Performance, led by acclaimed dramaturg and writer Raimondo Cortese of Ranters Theatre.

Meet our first writer Bridget Mackey. Bridget’s new work Kindness will premiere this Friday 31 July as part of the FLIGHT Season.

How would you describe your play in one sentence?
Kindness is a meditative black comedy about an older woman’s relationship with a group of city office workers.

How has your ongoing collaboration with director Kate Shearman helped shape Kindness?
Kate went through the graduate directing program at the same time I did my Masters. Because Kate has been with Kindness from its very first draft she has a deep understanding of my vision for the script. I have to say it has now become OUR vision for the script, as well as co-director Alice Darling’s. Kate has directed a number of readings of Kindness both at VCA and since graduating. These readings have been invaluable to my ongoing writing process because I have had feedback about how my ideas translate from the page into performance. Kate is sensitive to the tone and shape of the text and this understanding has allowed me to keep refining Kindness in the lead up to Flight.

Who is your favourite playwright and why?
It’s not very cool to say this, but my favourite playwright is Samuel Beckett. I love Beckett’s commitment to stage imagery. When I think of Beckett’s plays three strong images stick in my mind: the tree in Waiting for Godot, the garbage bins in Endgame, and the lips in Not I. I’d like to write plays that get into people’s brains like Beckett’s stick in my mind. I know this is what some people find frustrating about him but I love how open to interpretation his texts are. I worked Front of House on a production of Waiting for Godot and saw the show about a dozen times. One night, an audience member came up to me and said that he learnt more about himself watching Waiting for Godot that he had out of years of therapy. Finally, I like Beckett because he divides people so wildly.

You’ve spoken of your interest in the plot happening outside of the scenes in your play. Why is this?
My script, along with the work of the creative team, suggests plot through the characters’ behaviour on stage. I invite the audience to approach the text in the way that they might watch a dance performance, in that they are present and in the moment with the performers on stage. I’m also interested in what the audience can bring to a performance from their own life experience and I’m hopefully creating some space for them to do so.

What do you consider to be an act of kindness?
Mostly we go through life focusing on our own immediate needs. Obviously in a big city like Melbourne, we need to act this way to keep our sanity because you can’t give your money to every homeless person, or take the time to talk to everyone you pass in the street. Regardless of this, I think that a real act of kindness is when someone breaks out of their bubble and makes the effort to share a moment of connection with a fellow human. I don’t think we do it enough, and it is difficult to do! (Have you seen the way train carriages fill up? No one wants to sit next to someone if there is a space for them to sit on their own… we maintain such an illusion of distance from one another.)

Why do you write?
I watch theatre because it makes me feel less alone in my experience as a human being. I write for the same reason. I think existence is weird and that human beings are bizarre creatures and I want to share my experience of this with you. Maybe you feel the same way as me about things or maybe your experience is completely different to mine… how weird is that?

Kindness Season: July 31 – August 9, 2015 // Click here for tickets and information
Follow the development on Kindness on tumblr