Friday, 23 October 2015

We Are The Ghosts Of The Future: Edith

"Edith": Where do you find a character? Oh my. I don’t know. I often have to wait until  a voice starts talking in my head. Someone who possesses a distinctive phrasing and the sense of a lived life flickering behind their words. after all these years, I get a sense of a very particular energy when the character concerned has potential for the stage.

Edith was like that. I’d been thinking about a time when I stayed with some friends in their house in the middle of a wood in Brittany. My friends are from Paris but their best friends in the neighbourhood were a wild-eyed Breton, Jean-Pierre, and his long-suffering, much younger wife, Lulu.

Jean Pierre inveigled us over to their place for ‘just one glass of wine” (+ cakes + ham+ dumplings + – well, you get the picture!) Jean Pierre and Lulu lived in a traditional Breton cottage with grey stone, low ceilings, thick walls and blue doors and windows, at the end of a long, winding, rocky forest road.

And I’d been thinking about World War One soldiers for a show I have on next year with the State Theatre company of South Australia, The Red Cross Letters

And I’d been thinking of my grand-father, who’d fought in that war and who, when he’d returned, alive and well,  and qualified as a surveyor, had taken his new young bride, my grandmother, Mabel, out into the bush with him to the survey camps in the mid-north of South Australia. Mabel wrote a memoir of her time in the bush. It’s evocative, practical, funny, and true, and I wish there was room to include it in this post. I think those three years may have been the happiest of her life.

But why all these things schlepped into Edith, a Breton girl who marries a wounded Australian soldier/surveyor and who ends up in a boarding house in The Rocks, I’m not quite sure. But I heard her voice one evening, and there she was.


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