Esme O’Rafferty has a chat with Ebony Andrew and Melanie Thachankary from the cast of Sightings about their experiences making the play and its inspirations
So, I’ve read a little bit about the play, and it seems quite feminist.
Ebony: I wouldn’t say that’s it’s feminist, but we are all females—the cast are female, the directors—and we actually had three writers and they’re all female as well. So anyone who’s had a mum, or knows a woman, can relate to it, but it’s not a girly play.
Melanie: Yeah, it’s not about “girl power”. It’s all just life. It just follows a day that these girls have had, how they choose to deal with situations that they’ve been presented with, and just how you tackle life.
So is it sort of a “day in the life”, then? How does it work?
M: I would hope that it isn’t a day in the life…
E: It’s a night.
M: One girl in particular has been through quite a hefty crisis… and it’s basically about how these girls comfort their friends and share with their friends and see the power of sharing stories and storytelling.
E: It’s like the events that make you up, kind of thing—like “don’t let this define me”.
So how the idea for this play come about?
M: It’s probably important to say the company we work with [Massive Theatre Company] only deal with new work, so they don’t do any work that’s already out there. Traditionally they come from a background where the cast will create the work based around our personal experiences and what we’ve been through in life. Recently they’re going through a shift where we’re starting to get writers to write the stuff for us, but that’s still coming from a new place and from our experiences.
E: Yeah, we’re 100% involved in that process. They gave us the idea of what they were going for, we shared our stories for about an hour and a half each, then the writers went away for two months, constantly asking us questions.
Would you guys say that you’ve learned anything from your characters?
E: Definitely, yeah. For me, my character is this kind of tough girl who’s quite feminist, her mum has passed away—she’s dealt with a lot of stuff, and her friends haven’t, so she’s a different level of maturity and deepness.
E: Yeah, woke. I wasn’t very involved with politics, or the wider world—I didn’t really think about it that much. I’m super into it now. I love it. I’ve learnt that’s it’s okay to be involved at this age.
M: I’ve learnt heaps from mine as well. She’s lived a really long, hefty, full, loving alive life with all sorts of ups and downs, loss and love and all that stuff, and she doesn’t let anything faze her. When she’s in a moment she’ll embrace it, but equally she will come out it knowing that’s 10 times better and has learnt so much and is ready to tackle the next thing in life. It’s hard sometimes, to make the decision to come out of a shitty situation better than you were.
Is there anything in particular you want people to know about Sightings before they see it?
E: The show isn’t cliché or cringey. It’s real. We feel every moment.
M: It’s real and it’s raw and it’s raw in the sense that you’re seeing people really go through [emotions]. Although there is a moment where we confront a situation that is common for females, that’s not the focus of the show.
E: I feel like we want guys to come and watch it more than girls, you know? That would be awesome for guys to come and see it.
Sightings is being performed at Queen Street’s Q Theatre from 24- 28 July, Whangarei’s Forum North theatre from August 1-2 and at Glen Eden Playhouse as part of the Going West Festival on September 7.