An intriguing and amusing look at the world of children’s entertainment, Permission to Spin puts a very real and dark spin on the business of entertaining the kiddies. Writer Mary Rachel Brown tells me about her inspiration and some little known but darkly funny industry trivia.
Joy – This sounds like an amazing and funny play, I was hooked from the first line of the blurb: A black comedy for anyone who thinks children’s music is torture (which is me). What was your inspiration?
Mary – I read an article in the Guardian about how music can be weaponised, you have to come to the play to understand what that means. There is a dark side to the seemingly innocent children’s music industry, as a writer I seek out contradiction, this story is loaded with it. In terms of personal experiences, I spent a few years performing in a formatted kid’s show that went on the road, so I have some insight into the children’s entertainment industry. I had a friend that went out with the CEO’s of a record label, we had some wild nights out. Those nights informed some of the dialogue in the play.
Joy – Have you directed before? I realise you are of course co-directing this one, and are in very capable hands with Dino, but is this a daunting task?
Mary – I didn’t underestimate the task of directing, and it was as challenging as I anticipated. When writing I am queen, I can boss fictional characters round. I decide what they want and how they go about getting it. As a director you have to draw from the real-life actor’s instincts, that’s where the gold is. You are there to help them find their way as opposed to telling them what to do. Too much perception is death to the actor director relationship.
You have to exercise a great degree of curiosity and patience. I think the biggest attribute that serves both the writer and director is a sense of burning curiosity.
As a writer, my normal mode of operandi, there is more room to daydream, in fact day dreaming is part of the job. The directorial focus within a contained rehearsal period left no room for day dreaming.
Joy – I am a huge fan of Spinal Tap and that kind of rock/pop mockumentary, but they tend to be few and far between – any thoughts on why?
Mary – I think rockumentary is characters driven. At present, with the birth of all these new TV platforms, the focus is narrative. So I think it is just not in fashion at present. I love ‘Spinal tap’ too, I love anything that goes all the way up to 11!
Joy – I am going to venture into the archives now: why the Datsun 120Y? Why not the ubiquitous 180B? (side note, I briefly had a 180B while at university in Canberra, until it shit itself, which explains the odd spark of interest).
Mary – You answered your own question here. The 180B is a shit-box of a car!
Joy – What is next for you?
Mary - ‘All my Sleep and Waking’ at the Old 505 in November. Produced by Apocalypse and directed by Dino. I am going to focus on re drafting and getting the right frock for opening.
A big thank-you to Mary Rachel Brown, and good luck with frock shopping and chookas for opening this week, for more information on Permission to Spin see: https://www.redlineproductions.com.au/
above image by Robert Catto