Last week I attended the first performance play-reading of My Strong Female Ego, created by Micharne Cloughley, the National Library of Australia 2016 Friends Creative Arts Fellow.
The evening unfolded like this:
Following Micharne’s interesting and witty explanation of the creative process behind the play, the performance captured and held the attention of the audience for its full 75 minutes duration.
Actors, Karen Vickery and Amanda McGregor, provided a credible – and at times amusing - banter of comparative views in their verbatim portrayal of the Australian feminist women that Micharne had identified and chosen from Hazel de Berg’s extensive collection of interviews held by the National Library of Australia.
As the play progressed through 11 scenes, Micharne (from an unobtrusive, yet visible, postion to one side of the stage) relayed to the audience, in one sentence, the topic for each scene.
At the start of each scene, Micharne then played a 10-second snippet from the recording of the introduction of the original de Berg interview, which identified the interviewees she was using for that scene. The actors entered the scene by speaking along with the introduction, which allowed them to then seamlessly step out of the interview and into character. The introductory interweaving of the interview recording with the performers’ voices was therefore a particularly strong element and the interwoven verbatim selections created a strong sense of character and conversation between characters.
The content of the play provided those members of the audience, who were not familiar with them, with a great insight into the de Berg collection and a taste of the scope of the interviews; but more importantly, it highlighted the views of, and actions taken by, women (and men) who were committed to the cause of feminisim at that time in history, and interestingly revealed that the views held by opposing parties were sometimes actually quite similar in their differences.