Do you have someone you can call at 2am? Many people do, many people don’t. But the question makes you think: who do I trust enough to show my vulnerability to?
Georgie Silk and Natalie Maria Clark have joined forces to create ‘2am Phone Call’, described as “a lucid dream reality about those people who matter the most”.
Hello Georgie and Natalie! Would you mind giving us a quick overview of what the play is about.
Georgie: The initial idea came from a 2am phone call. I was having a particularly bad night, I just got home from being out and needed to talk to somebody. And I knew my friend probably just got home from work, she was working nights, and I called her. I felt really nervous about calling her and crying to her. And I woke up the next morning and thought ‘Oh no did I push it too far’ because I just emotion-dumped on her.
It spiraled into this idea about how people would be willing to talk to us and help us through tough times even at 2am in the morning. I wrote my first poem about it the next day. After that, I wrote about five more.After three weeks, I pulled them out from under my bed and I thought ‘I could make a show of this’. And it was an important thing I wanted to discuss. I have never met Natalie before but I read the poems to a friend and they said you should talk to Natalie about this. So we met up and had dinner one night and she was keen to do a show!
Natalie: It’s interesting that the characters we created through the rehearsal process have become much more complex than the person you would phone at 2am. These characters have this thing that happens in an intimate friendship. You’re the cruelest to the people that are the closest to you. So there’s this complexity of what is going on between them, whether they care for each other or they’re conflicting. Or when there’s this natural drifting apart and people leave our lives. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is natural. It’s a very important thing to acknowledge as well. People can support us for a brief time and move on, and that’s fine.
Georgie: And people think friendships must last our whole lives.
Natalie: Yeah, but other relationships, like romantic relationships, can be very clear to define when they begin and end. We have a discussion to check in with our partner to see how they’re going, but we don’t do that with our friends. Maybe we should, to see if we’re still supporting each other the way we should. And like with a romantic relationship, maybe we can also think this relationship isn’t working anymore, maybe we should decide to separate.
Are rehearsals going how you thought they would?
Georgie: We started off with a whole lot of poetry and then we thought we’ll just make the poetry as a base, with minimal dialogue, so we started doing that show. Then we realised we loved the poetry, so we’re trying to find this middle ground, this blend between movement and story-telling.
Natalie: Part of the process of devising a show is that you keep developing as you make it. It’s quite different from starting from a script and then going forward. You’re creating every time you go into a space to rehearse. Inevitably, it’s in flux and shifts and changes as you go. But that’s where you find the hidden gems, the things that won’t have surfaced if you stuck to the idea you had in your mind.
Natalie, how do you craft these feelings into the choreography?
Natalie: The choreography we’re using is quite simple, beautiful and intimate. So one of the things we tried was starting with the idea of an embrace and then seeing how we push or pull against each other.
Georgie: We decided to create a concoction of both of our writing, bringing in Natalie’s poems as well.
Natalie: I’m a writer as well so when I work, I integrate words, character and dialogue into it.
The whole play has this air of vulnerability around it, and it’s almost taboo in our society to be seen as vulnerable.
Natalie: Yeah, there’s this feeling of just harden up and take it and hold it in,
Georgie: And there’s this whole idea of feminism. We’re making this female show, that’s about female friendships but also we’re trying to discuss feelings. We had a word count on our script and we actually realised the word ‘feel’ appeared 33 times. There’s this idea of how it’s getting really hard to say how you’re feeling, and how we’re not meant to say it.
Natalie: Another New Zealand playwright, Julia Croft, played on the idea of fact versus feeling. And if you feel something, it is a fact. If someone experiences something and they feel that way, that’s what happened for them. It can’t be denied, no human being should be denied their experience of the world. So it’s very important to acknowledge that vulnerability as it’s a huge part of how we experience the world.
Is it one of the main message you want the audience to take from the play?
Georgie: Yeah, it is one of them. Sometimes when I create theatre, I just have to put this thing out that I’m thinking about at the moment and hoping that someone else is going to pick up on even one moment and be able to relate. There’s a concoction of people in here. I’ve interviewed about 15 people as part of the process and I treasure it, because it’s not just me in here. There’s Natalie obviously, but there’s a multiple people. It’s quite special to be able to perform that.
Natalie: For me, the reason for coming on stage is that shared human connection. Any work of art, you hope the audience will identify with some aspect of themselves from it. That’s where you feel connected to the world, the people around you. Especially in today’s age with social media and things, you can feel very isolated. Maybe more now than ever. And theatre is a beautiful way of reminding people their experiences are actually shared by other people.
So what is your process before going on stage?
Natalie: I have a weird thing where I have to brush my teeth. I don’t know what it is, to feel fresh or something, it’s really weird.
Georgie: I have to go on stage with a full stomach. I can’t perform on an empty stomach. There was this time where I got half-way through a show once and I was starving. We didn’t have a half-time but I came off for a five minute break and I hadn’t eaten enough before the show. And I churn up so much energy, especially with my nerves. Our stage manager had given us donuts, so I ran backstage and was shoving two donuts into my mouth and went back on stage!
Natalie: I find that if I get really bad nerves, I lie down or get into a really low squat. Just lowering my centre of gravity really helps me feel more stable. Everyone has their things they do. And as a creator, if we weren’t performing this ourselves, there’s still this air of vulnerability. Almost more, when you hand it to the performers. I always feel like that when I create a show where I’m not personally performing in. You sit back on opening night and your performers are on stage, and you’re like please, please do it how we rehearsed, please do it good. It almost becomes theirs. You’re like a mother watching a child leave the home.
There’s a lot of vulnerability in being an artist, but it’s almost why we do it. It’s how we grow and develop as human beings. I think people don’t do so well when they hold onto their ego and can’t push past their vulnerability, because they’re not making the work for the work, they’re doing it for themselves.
Thank you so much to Georgie and Natalie for speaking with us and telling us more about the play!
nzgirl was able to attend the opening night and we have to say, Natalie and Georgie are amazing playwrights and performers.
The set made use of Basement Theatre’s unique layout, with Georgie leaning out the fire exit to listen to a forlorn voice mail left by a friend. It tore at your heart, making 7pm feel like the recklessness of the early hours of the morning. Highly recommended!
Georgie and Natalie’s play ‘2am Phone Call’ will be showing at Basement Theatre in Auckland from 14 to 18 November 2017. Find out more and book your tickets here.
As told to and edited by Lidya Ke