Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Woo Hoo, Donna!!!!

7-ONs wonderful year just got a bit more wonderful. Our Donna won the Griffin Prize 2013, with her play, Jump For Jordan. Of course not all of us could be there to cheer her on – if we can just nail a 7 in Brisbane and Perth we’ll have the country covered! – but we hear from Our Vanessa (also on the shortlist for the Prize) that Donna delivered a corker of a thank-you speech.

And, when perused, it is…so here it is for the rest of you. Some really great points, well-made.

"Jump For Jordan is inspired by a real experience which excited my abiding interest in themes of migration, displacement, exile, and clashing cultural expectations. However, I was equally curious about the anxiety and paranoia that gripped my friend, and how assumptions, internalised racism and moral panic could eclipse actual events. For this reason, Jump For Jordan is also set within the main characters’s fluctuating levels of consciousness: memory, reconstructed family history, paranoid fantasies, and insomnia-induced conversations with the dead. 

The main character is a would-be archaeologist. But her dream of unearthing antiquities in the Middle East has been derailed by the disturbance caused by anxiety and family conflict. In Jump For Jordan, I wanted to explore dramaturgically this idea of disturbance by embedding it within the form, so I structured the play as if it was a disturbed archaeological dig site; strata of occupation collapse in on each other; that is, scenes are constructed from layered fragments, from non-sequential story shards that intrude upon others and that span a period of thirty years. There are a hundred story shards in this play - that’s a lot of plot - but Jump For Jordan is primarily a language-based play, using associative and dialogic structures to create comedy, dramatic irony, connective comment between and within the scenes, and to unify the fragments into a poetic whole. It is also a bi-lingual play written almost entirely in English, with Mara’s wilful mistranslations causing further disturbance as the narartive unfolds. 

Why did I write the play like this? Because of my passion for treating form as content, as important as content, as invested with values and force. When content is woven into the form of a play, I believe that such plays can support greater complexity and work viscerally upon an audience. 

I wanted to tell you all that because I want to repeat a remark that David Berthold rmade in his blog this week and say that playwrights are not merely content providers. I’m paraphrasing Peter Craven now by saying that one can ask two questions: what can the play do? or, what can I do to the play? I love his first question - what can the play do? - because it understands that a play is an open system... working hard, on many levels, with many strategies, in different ways, in different productions. And to throw my own comment in here about the adaptation debate, I just want to say that for me, the difference between an original work, and an adaptation, is terror. Adaptations don’t scare me. New works do. And I applaud Griffin for supporting me and so many other playwrights, supporting our ambitions and our lurch into the unknown to come back with a play born of this place and time. " Donna Abela

p.s. and while we're about it, check out Donna's article in The Guardian Australia .

1 comment:

Karin Mainwaring said...

Thanks for this Donna. I particularly enjoyed reading your comments on the development and structuring of your play.
Your right too about "terror" being a travel companion on an original work. Keeps you sharp I find!
Cheers, thanks and congratulations
Karin Mainwaring