World’s a stage for local storyteller

LOCAL playwright Alison Mann is making waves on the national and international stage with the assistance of local professional theatre company Blue Cow Theatre, bringing two of her works to new audiences.

One of Tasmania’s most well-known theatre writers, the New Town resident has used her position as Blue Cow’s writer in residence and opportunities from the COVID-19 pandemic to make the best of a difficult year for the arts sector.

Ms Mann has been selected to be a part of the Come to Where I Am program through Sydney based company Critical Stages Touring, in partnership with the London based theatre company Paines Plough.

The initiative asks regional writers to create a short video piece responding to the pandemic.

Ms Mann’s work is based on experiencing a family member undergoing chemotherapy during COVID-19 and is one of only 16 to be selected around Australia.

The idea juxtaposes Hobart – beautiful and protected by the worst of the virus by being an island – against the complexity of health care in a pandemic and a need to protect patients and frontline workers.

“Although fictionalised, it is based on an experience I encountered when assisting a family member going through chemotherapy recently,” Ms Mann said.

“The 10-minute piece explores the practical challenges of supporting a loved one when they are isolated in hospital for treatment and as their carer wanting to be with them.

“It’s very exciting to tell something with so much immediacy, there is a quick turnaround to complete the work from start to finish so I hope audiences will really relate to the currency of the story.”

The play will be produced as a video postcard, filmed on location in Hobart and streamed by Critical Stages Touring and Paines Plough’s websites.

The first set of stories are due to be launched on 19 August.

The work will eventually be performed on stage when touring productions return to venues across the country.

Critical Stages Touring chief executive officer Chris Bendall said that with so many talented writers all across Australia, this was an opportunity to highlight the voices of regional writers.

“Tasmania has such a strong pool of artistic talent to draw upon, and Hobart is one of my absolute favourite cities to visit, so I was very pleased to receive Alison’s terrific submission,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to sharing her beautiful and moving story, with her vivid evocation of the beauty and tranquillity of Hobart as a backdrop.”

Ms Mann’s work is not unfamiliar to Hobart theatre audiences, with her play ‘The Surgeon’s Hands’ developed through Blue Cow Theatre’s Cowshed writers program and performed in 2016 as a Blue Cow production.

The Surgeons Hands was also published by Brisbane’s Playlab as part of their online Indie Publications.

Alison is working with Blue Cow Theatre on finalising the script of her latest work titled ‘Amy’s Tattoo’.

The play is slated to be produced next year by Blue Cow.

“I’ve also been invited to attend the Women’s Playwrights International Conference in Montreal, Canada in 2022, where an extract of The Surgeon’s Hands will be read, I really hope I can get there to see it first-hand,” Ms Mann said.

Caption: From left, Blue Cow Theatre general manager Lucinda Toynbee Wilson and playwright Alison Mann.

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