Lindy Timm got the inside scoop on Rachel’s production, Art House.
Tell us a little about the story line of Art House.
Art House is the story of two sisters – Charlie, a talented artist who fakes her death in order to become famous, and younger sibling Viva, who becomes her only lifeline to the world outside. The play takes place inside the space in which Charlie is hiding and begins after her “funeral”.
This is the world premiere of Art House. Is it daunting to debut it at a prestigious cultural event like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
It’s daunting but exciting. I think for any new playwright, the premiere of your first play is going to seem like a dream and nightmare at the same time. Whether the play is opening in Sydney or Edinburgh, it’s scary. A few years of my life poured into this liitle piece of writing that is finally going to be seen and judged by an audience. Of course it’s amazing to have it open on an international stage, but in some ways I’d be more nervous if it was opening on my home turf in front of my peers. There’s something about being an anonymous foreigner that makes it easier for me to be brave and take creative risks.
This is the first full length play you’ve written. What drew you to transition from acting to writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I contributed as a writer to the SBS cult comedy “Life Support” and devised work with other actors in Paris when I studied with Philippe Gaulier. Acting is just another form of story-telling and at some point I realised that’s what I loved most about being an actor. I came to Art House at a point in my life when I was incredibly frustrated with the two “me’s’ that exist as an artist- the creative soul and the pragmatist who pays the bills. I couldn’t reconcile the battle between them. I saw a painting at the National Gallery in Canberra that had been hung just after the artist had died and I was incredibly frustrated by the idea that you have to die in order to make money from your art. I started to write Art House and moved to Paris to study with Gaulier. That winter, I got really ill with bronchitis, pneumonia and a swollen disc in my spine and was bed-ridden for almost a month. I wrote most of the first draft during that period of isolation and thus began the Art House journey.
Was writing the play a difficult or lengthy process?
The first draft was mainly done in that month of sickness. But it’s been through six drafts, a couple of readings, three moves across three continents and four years since then. I’d leave it for six months feeling completely overwhelmed, and then come back to it. It’s been a long, joyful, horrible, wonderful learning curve.
What excites you about the UK theatre scene?
The immensity of it. There are so many theatres with so much going on. There’s a larger population which supports a bigger theatre community. And therefore, there’s greater variety across every level – mainstream and fringe theatre. I think this allows artists to take risks. The support and development of new writers in established institutions such as the Royal Court and Soho Theatre is also really impressive.
Art House runs from 30-31st July at the Old Red Lion Pub Theatre, Angel and from 7-31st August at Zoo Venues, Edinburgh Fringe Festival.