"It is really important to me that our culture in Australia is getting fresh audiences in all the time to experience storytelling..."
Last time Kate Mulvany teamed up with writer/director Anne-Louise Sarks, the result was Medea, a bold reimagining of Euripides' myth played out in the next room, while two children, Leon and Jasper, play before us. Recently playing at Gate Theatre in London, its season was extended by more than a week the day before Mulvany and I chat.
"You know what, I didn't realise until yesterday, I had this moment of sitting down and looking at Annie-Lou and saying, 'So when Jasper...' and then realised normally when I started that sentence I'm talking about a completely different production. I wrote Medea first, and in that we got our boys, the actors, to chose their names themselves, so it was a happy accident."
This time around Jasper refers to Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey's widely successful 2009 novel about a murder and small town racism. A film adaptation commenced production in WA last month.
"It breaks my heart when there are not enough outlets for children and teens and families to come and enjoy that craft."
Mulvany was presented with the proposition to adapt the novel by then Artistic Director of Barking Gecko John Sheedy, who directed the premiere of her adaptation by the company last year.
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"As soon as John put it in my hands I knew that I'd had a glorious gift given to me, but also a very important job to make sure that it's accessible to everybody and its beautiful reputation. I've probably read the book even more times than Craig's publisher now!" Mulvany jokes.
Accessibility was of particular importance to Mulvany, who has relished the opportunity to write for and as younger voices in previous works, like Sydney Festival co-production Masquerade, based on Kit Williams' picture book.
"It is really important to me that our culture in Australia is getting fresh audiences in all the time to experience storytelling, the most ancient craft in the world. I'm lucky enough to have it as my job and it breaks my heart when there are not enough outlets for children and teens and families to come and enjoy that craft, because you never know who's out there — there could be another me out there!
"I grew up in country WA where we got very little theatre and thank god someone bothered to come to us one day because that was the day I went 'I want to do that for a living.'"
That company was Bell Shakespeare, where Mulvany is now, fittingly, a Writing Fellow.
"The town I came from was so diverse, just a melting pot of cultures and personalities, and a lot of drifters, a lot of blow in and out with the seasons sort of people, so growing up in those sorts of towns, you're surrounded by storytellers, you're surrounded by stories from all over the world, from all walks of life, and it's only now when I walk around certain suburbs of cities and it just feels so white toast, and I'm so glad that I came from a place where stories were in the soil.
"I could keep writing about West Australia until the cows come home."