Introducing writer Fleur Kilpatrick. In 2014 Fleur completed a dramaturgy internship with Melbourne Theatre Company and received Best Emerging Writer, Melbourne Fringe for The City That Burned. As well as a playwright, Fleur is a passionate director and arts commentator, presenting regularly on RRR’s Smart Arts and contibuting to Dancehouse Diaries, Archer Magazine and the Audio Stage podcast with Jana Perkovic.
Fleur’s play Yours The Face has been presented at both the Adelaide Fringe and Perth’s FRINGE WORLD. The story of a photographer and a model coming together to create one perfect image, the work is partly inspired by Fleur’s own experience as a model. Read on for more insight into Fleur’s writing and this captivating one-person play.
How would you describe your play in one sentence?
It is the story of a photograph and the many thousands of words it does not say.
Yours The Face is about beauty and ugliness as seen through the lens of fashion. How has your experience as a model and your director Sarah Walker’s experience as a professional photographer informed the work?
Two key things from my experience as a model have found their way in:
Firstly, I know how fake a photo can be. I don’t just mean photoshop. Image manipulation begins before the shutter even fires. It is about the way a model holds their body during a shoot, the way they’ve changed their diet leading up to it, the way their makeup and expression become a blank canvas for someone else’s art. Which leads to the second thing: I know the passivity required of a model. Emmy is an incredibly passive character. She has strength and darkness within her but overall she moves through life as she’s been taught to move through a photoshoot: with cool detachment.
I think Sarah’s visual skills as a photographer have a massive impact on the show and how it is presented. It is beautiful and every moment looks like a picture. She and the actor, Roderick Cairns, were also able to carefully choreograph the photography scenes with an acute awareness of the camera and what a photograph would expect of a professional model in that moment.
Who is your favourite playwright and why?
Patricia Cornelius because have you seen her work? Have you heard her poetry and how it erupts from ugliness and bravado? Have you seen how hard that woman fights in every aspect of her work and craft? I’m so proud of Australian playwrights and so, so proud that someone like Patricia is screaming out in such a uniquely female and Australian way.
What fuelled your decision to have your two characters played by a single performer?
The instant I started writing Yours the Face, I knew it was “a duet for solo voice”. There are many, many reasons this appealed to me: I think it physicalises their loneliness, how they are two parts of the same world and how being cruel to each other only further isolates them. Peter, the photographer, cannot view Emmy as a person. To him, she is only beautiful and, despite his loneliness, he is disgusted when she reveals what is going on inside her head. This kind of objectification is damaging to both men and women.
Most importantly, without make up or costuming I wanted to try and turn a male body female in the eyes of the audience. We make no attempts to hide the actor’s maleness but I hope that over the course of the play people will begin to view him as a woman. Hopefully they will question how they look at and treat women and their bodies.
This work was produced at Perth’s FRINGE WORLD Festival at the beginning of the year. What has it been like to remount it for FLIGHT?
This is an incredibly demanding show for the actor. It is precise, physically demanding, emotionally complex and requires an immense amount of intellectual engagement. Remounting this has meant an enormous amount of work for Roderick and Sarah. It isn’t just a case of polishing it back up. They are still finding new things at each rehearsal.
This will actually be the third season for Yours the Face and this is the first time we have had a decent-length rehearsal period. This has meant that I’ve been able to play with some re-writes that I’ve wanted to do for a year and a half. It was wonderful to have reviews and audience responses to help me as I’ve re-interrogated my own work.
Why do you write?
I write because I have to and because some stories feel too urgent to leave unsaid. Because I want to make people feel things and think things as hard as they can. I write because I’m angry, happy, sad, frightened, aroused and excited about the world around me.