Posted by Melissa Zheliba
16. Sep, 2014
Simply put, she will fade at the finish is a play about you because it’s a play about people with issues and problems. And even though they might not be the same problems as yours, that treading water feeling when you know the tide is catching up to you is pretty human and universal.
The creative genius duo behind HerFirstMillion and the self professed “dramady,” she will fade at the finish is equal parts writer, Kirsten Field and director, Jessie Labiris. A team of 22-year-old Monash University students who wanted to be legit, so they got up and did it. I spoke to the girls about the play itself, and how two uni students found themselves putting on a production in the Melbourne Fringe Festival. If there’s a theme for this post it’s real life, everyday people doing substantial things. And it should make you want to go and see this play, but also empower you to make opportunities to do the things you want to do.
Kirsten posed it best when she said, “We’re never too old to learn, right? Or to remember what it was like to be so unsure about the world.”
The play is set in a self-help therapy group and is driven by a notion of dealing with persistent and arising problems. Where did you get this idea? Any experience or people that have informed the story?
Kirsten: It’s been a bit of a process, getting the play to this stage. It started as a series of monologues from three different characters, and then it evolved into a play that takes place in the one room and is really an ensemble piece. And a self-help group just seemed like a setting that made sense, with how messed up all of my characters seemed to be. The catalyst for the play, I guess, was sitting across from a flight attendant on a plane – this was a few years ago – and the way she was holding onto the armrests, gripping them really tightly. My mind automatically started jumping to conclusions, and I just imagined what it might be like to have a job as a flight attendant, but be terrified of flying. Not that something like that would ever happen in real life, but the play is pretty out there.
Is there some bigger picture context symbolised in the script?
K: Possibly? I think I tend to have too many grand philosophical statements in my writing, but I hope that these characters are people the audience can relate to, and that there’s something in the way they do and do not deal with their problems that the audience can take away from the performance. I hope people leave feeling better than they did before the play began.
J: Everyone will take away something different hopefully.
Who are your characters? What kind of people are they?
J: There are seven characters. Some with relatable problems. Some with more – unique – problems. You’ll love them, hate them, pity them, feel for them, agree with them, disagree with them, laugh with them and laugh at them all in one hour.
K: Ha – well, these are unstable individuals, to say the least. But I think there’s something entertaining – and maybe sad, too – about watching people try to hold it together when doing so is such a struggle. These are very human characters, and I think they’ve all made a lot of mistakes in their lives. And there’s something in all of them that wants to be better – that can see a better life within reach. But there’s also something in them that’s holding them back, telling them that reaching out for this different, better life is too risky and not worth it.
What is the title about? (Can you tell me without spoiling the end?) Why no capital letters? (It kills me).
K: Well, you’ll have to ask Jessie about that. I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to thinking of titles, so she was the one clever enough to come up with this one. I really like it, just because it seems to reflect the ambiguity of the play as a whole.
J: It was really hard to find an appropriate title for this play. We thought about it for ages. Then one day I looked up the meaning of the word fade and there it was. It was a used to describe someone fading at the end of a race. I thought it was so apt.
K: There’s no reason to say that if you start to fade at the finish, you won’t be able to make it to the end of the race. But there’s also a kind of foreboding there, the fact that there’s no question about it. She will fade at the finish. That part is set in stone.
How would you describe the genre of ‘she will fade at the finish’? Am I gonna laugh or cry?
K: Hopefully a bit of both? It’s far from a comedy, even with the melodrama in it, but I think some of these characters, and the fantastic actors playing them, are kind of hilarious. Our cast is definitely finding the humour in the play.
J: Mmm a dramady… That’s a drama cross comedy. I think it’s funnier than everyone else does, but I’ve just read it a few too many times… I think. But you’ll probably cry. I know I have a few times.
You guys are both Fringe virgins in terms of production, how has the process been? Is it what you expected?
J: Oh man. It’s been a shit fight at times. So many things to organise you just wouldn’t think of. Lighting, seating, promo stuff, comp tickets, normal tickets, programmes. It all takes so much time and effort. You can’t do it alone. I’m so glad I have such a great partner.
K: Producing is much more work than I thought it would be. It’s been difficult having to deal with all the administrative stuff, but it’s kind of nice not having to answer to anyone, too. We’re our own bosses, which is really great.
Kristen, how has it been having your script become an actual production? And Jessie, what is it like directing a script you haven’t written yourself?
K: It’s been really fantastic. I’ve had a few (much shorter) plays performed as rehearsed readings, and one proper production of a ten minute play, but it’s amazing to have this greater length of time to get to know the cast, and Jessie, and to be able to explore the play with them.
J: Yeah it’s strange for sure. I directed it in a rehearsed reading before the Fringe so I loved it before we decided to do it.
Biggest challenge/greatest triumph?
K: The biggest challenge for me is hearing certain lines from the play being read aloud, if they’re either totally cringe-worthy (some of those have been changed) or if they hit too close to home. And the greatest triumph is hearing a line read aloud that just works.
J: Just getting it into the Fringe was a struggle. Since then, we’ve had lots of other production-y struggles. I think the greatest triumph is still to come. The moment I’m sitting in the audience on the first night and the play has finished and hopefully the audience is clapping.
Is it first date appropriate? Can I bring my grandparents?
K: I…think it depends on the date? Some people might love it, but it is quite an intense play. And the same goes for grandparents. I’m sure if they’re fans of theatre, they’ll really enjoy it.
J: Yes and yes.
Ticket prices: Full Price: $18.00; Concession: $13.00
she will fade at the finish
Elevator Studios, Level 1, 2-4 River Street, South Yarra
September 23, 25, 26 at 9:30pm; September 24, 27 at 7:30pm; September 28 at 3pm and 7:30pm
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