Simple Souls opens this week, the latest from subtlenuance productions, writer/director Paul Gilchrist found some time to chat about the play and what we can expect from his latest piece.
Joy - tell me – what is Simple Souls about in a nutshell?
Paul - The play tells the story of Marguerite (played by Madeleine Withington) a contemporary woman who looks at the world around her and questions its sanity. So much anger! So little depth. She gathers a motley group of non-actors (played by our troupe of very talented actors) and rehearses a series of satirical skits she hopes will slice into the troubled heart of modern society. But can you fight fire with fire? Anger with anger? For as Marguerite questions those around her, she is questioned in turn. Perhaps only the simple minded can accept a stupid society, but Marguerite begins to realise a very different type of simplicity is possible.
Joy – do you see social media as a largely negative aspect of life? If so, specifically how so? Does social media have any redeeming qualities?
Paul - Social media is a good servant and a bad master. Use it to build a world of connections and it’s well employed. Use it to throw stones and you (and everyone else) would be better off if you took your eyes off the screen and got reacquainted with the richness of real Life. Too often online commentary is like the abuse shouted by the drunken passenger of a passing car: violent, anonymous and cowardly. Simple Souls tries to come to terms with the current cult of anger, offering a playful antidote to the contemporary belief that rage makes right, that somehow your anger is a gauge of your commitment. As Marguerite quips in the play, “I don’t need my heart surgeon to be angry. I just want her to have a steady hand.”
Joy – Who is directing this time?
Paul - Me – but I’ve surrounded myself with a brilliant team. I’m looking forward to exploring this piece in Top Shelf, Fringe HQ. I love working in non-traditional spaces. I feel they suit subtlenuance’s aesthetic style – the Teatro Povero – the Poor Theatre. We privilege acting and the script, and eschew excessive reliance on technology. If you’re seeking to share something soulful, there is often little place for the slick and soulless. Our very well received Cristina in the Cupboard was originally produced in “a corridor” (to use the words of a respected Sydney director.) Top Shelf at Fringe HQ is no corridor, but a beautiful eclectic space; the perfect setting for Marguerite’s journey to discover true simplicity, and a place for some everyday magic.
Joy – what (if anything) do you want audiences to take away from the play?
Paul - Being comic magic realism, I hope audiences take away joy inspired by laughter. I also hope we can share a sense of wonder, for magic realism jettisons trivial truths in the pursuit of greater ones. Yes, strange and marvellous things happen in the play – I can’t tell you what, it will ruin the surprise – but they happen to remind us that all that has been, is not all that could be.
Simple Souls starts this week at Top Shelf, Fringe HQ is Kings Cross, see sydneyfringe.com for tickets.