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'Minus One Sister' marks debut of a new theatre collective

Minus One Sister is the debut production from a fresh new theatre collective S.A.L.T. We sent some questions across to the creative team behind the show and they send us back a transcript of their answers. Have a look at what they had to say.

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OUTinPerth: Tell us about yourself, and your role in the production.

Emily Stokoe: Hey, we’re all gay!

Riley Spadaro: Emily, I think they want to know more about us than that.

ES: Okay… Hi, I’m Emily, I am the Producer and Production Manager for Minus One Sister… What do I do? Look, I am either in a theatre, at a festival, in a park, or on a couch with my grey hound. I produce, I production manage, I stage manage… I recently worked with Barking Gecko on My Robot… what else have I done?

RS: I’m Riley, I am the director of Minus One Sister. I am a recent graduate of WAAPA and I am about to start a Master of Fine Arts in Directing at NIDA. For the last year, I have done a bunch of work across Perth… I was the Assistant Director on Trouble in Tahiti for Lost and Found Opera and An Almost Perfect Thing for The Blue Room Theatre. I have just come back from Sydney where I worked as the Assistant Director on Barbara and the Camp Dogs for Belvoir (which has been nominated for Best New Australian Work at the Sydney Theatre Awards!). I have also interned with Performing Lines WA and worked with Playwriting Australia… That’s my whole CV, is that enough?

Alex Turley: I’m Alex, I am the Composer and Sound Designer for Minus One Sister. I do a lot of work in the music industry – I try to involve myself in projects which are as diverse as possible. I work with all the orchestras, and I work with contemporary musicians and classical musicians – I really try to spread myself across the board. I am really passionate about making new interesting vibrant contemporary art.

ES: Do you do much theatre work?

AT: I have done some work theatre, but I haven’t worked on a production of this size.

OIP: Who else is involved in your show?

AT: We have assembled a team of vibrant, young WAAPA grads.

RS: I have fallen madly in love with everyone who is working on this production… The cast are utterly extraordinary – Skye Beker and Stephanie Somerville are two women who I have been desperate to work with for a long time… and Isaac Diamond and Phoebe Sullivan are beautiful. And Jessica Russell – our Movement Director – is a pocket-rocket, she has been brought such an incredible energy into the room.

ES: Do you know what is interesting? We have assembled a really strong team of women – we have ten women and four men in this production.

RS: Absolutely – almost all of our designers are fiercely talented women (Kaitlin Brindley, Kelly Fregon, and Phoebe Pilcher) and Jessie Atkins, our Stage Manager, has been a dream… And you two have been pretty excellent.

OIP: What is Minus One Sister about?

RS: Minus One Sister is a new(ish) play by Anna Barnes which was first produced by Griffin Independent in 2015. It is a contemporary take on Sophocles’ Electra for a post #MeToo, post-Weinstein, post-Brock Turner world. It looks at the abuse constantly levelled against women, and the language and structures that are used to enable and sustain patriarchal violence.

ES: It follows the same story as Electra.

RS: Dad kills Daughter, Mum kills Dad, Sister hates Sister, Brother kills Mum.

ES: They’re a happy family… and it’s wrenched into the present where bloodshed and violence go hand in hand with iPhones, Instagram and goon.

AT: It’s actually really fun – it touches on rape, murder, suicide, bulimia.

RS: It does have some difficult themes to digest, but Anna Barnes’ razor sharp (and often hilarious) writing stops it from ever feeling too heavy. It’s sure to pack a theatrical gut-punch.

OIP: A lot of Fringe shows are filled with mirror balls, juggling and hula-hoops, this sounds like something much darker. What attracted you to this production?

ES: I was under the impression we were having mirror balls, juggling and hula-hoops.
[Laughter]

AT: How did the production come about?

RS: What happened was, I found the play and I read, like, the first 2 or 3 pages… and then, that night, I went out for dinner with Emily.

ES: We went to Francoforte… and it was really delicious.

RS: It was really delicious.

ES: I think I had the kale pesto – big fan.

RS: Anyway, we were having dinner and I said “I have a play that I want to direct and you’re going to produce it” and Emily said “what is it about?” and I said “I have no idea, I have only read the first few pages and it’s really good”. And now we’re here.

AT: But what attracted you to it?

RS: The writing – it’s killer.

ES: And I think it offers a really unique point of difference in amongst a festival which is traditionally light- hearted entertainment.

RS: Absolutely.

ES: And I think The Blue Room Theatre has brought together an incredibly exciting program of work for Summer Nights.

AT: Yeah, they have programmed some fascinating work. Emily Steel’s 19 Weeks in the COMO Treasury pool, and Soho Rep’s Oliver Award-winning Fleabag.

ES: Also Isaac and Phoebe Pilcher are working with Lazy Yarns to bring you Less Light, a show entirely in the dark.

RS: There’s a lot of great work happening in the Studio Underground this season. The Wind in the Underground directed by Lucy Clements, which received glowing reviews when it was presented at the Old Fitz in Sydney earlier this year… and Mel Cantwell is back working with iOTA and the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra.

ES: WAYJO!

RS: Yes, WAYJO! They’re working on Slap and Tickle… and then there’s us!

ES: And you can see all the shows in one night – it’s a great opportunity to make a night out at the theatre and see a double or even a triple bill!

OIP: How has the rehearsal process been so far?

RS: I have felt incredibly supported the whole way through the rehearsal process. It has been a blessing to have all the collaborators in the room throughout the process, making the show a really shared vision. Everyone has come to the table with their absolute A Game, and we have been feeding off one another the entire time. A room of constant “Yes! And…”

AT: I came in a bit later in the process – by the time I joined everyone had a very clear understanding of what the production needed to be. So, from my seat, it has been quite easy to slide myself into the rehearsal process and just do what I do.

RS: It has been really wonderful to have Alex in the room. His design has really informed the shape of the show.

OIP: This is the debut production for SALT. – what types of shows will you be putting on in future?

RS: Hopefully good ones.
[Laughter]

RS: I would love to direct something by Patricia Cornelius or Michelle Lee next… or Kate Tempest or Alice Birch! Who knows? Watch this space.

ES: Come see Minus One Sister!

RS: Please.

Minus One Sister is on the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre as part of Fringe World until 3rd February. Get tickets at Fringe World.   

OIP Staff, images by Marshall Stay showing Mitchell Burke, Skye Beker and Stephanie Somerville


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