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  • Writer's pictureLihong

Until Death

It's been a week since the last run of Until Death, an original play about how a couple, Nick and Chiara, are driven into a battle for the ashes of their unborn child. It has been a very long process for the collective, as we navigated the complex process of devising a play. In fact I think it's been almost 9 months, the time it takes to carry a child to term.

Every time Lisa screams "What's the plan? I'm just trying to get through this week!", it rings a little too true. I was indeed just trying to get through the days as they rolled around.

Lisa feeling misunderstood and alone

When I was a teen, resources were limited and my world was small. I was definitely a "difficult" teen. The play required me to find and augment this side of myself, and it was challenging primarily because I think I've been trying to leave that part of me behind. It felt so vulnerable and naked to be portraying the ugliest aspects of our selves on stage. It makes me wonder... can we only deliver our best performance once we've made peace with the parts of ourselves we judge and dislike?

My stage debut in kindergarten (I think)

I had a chat with an actor friend who told me that they got comfortable with being this vulnerable onstage by approaching it as spending some time with their inner child. I took it literally and created a photo album of myself as a child and my family. I realised how rarely I looked at these old photos. How disconnected I felt to that same girl separated from me by time and heartache.

During the process of preparing for the show, I also started working part time at Native bar. I like Native's business model - sustainability is a core framework around which Native is built. I immediately found lots of similarities between hospitality and theatre, especially with the need to relaxed and alert at the same time, to perform and yet be aware of what was going on behind the scenes. Preparing intensively for one moment of impression.

But it wasn't till we bumped in and did transitions in the performance space that I realised the waitressing and bartending helped tremendously with the efficacy and economy of movement that was needed in transitions. Move fast but don't rush. Rest when you can.

This play is about grief and loss, and although the most obvious loss was that of Chiara's unborn child, every character also has some form of loss that makes me want to turn on therapist switch and have them hold each other's hands and talk about their specific loss. Instead of shouting at each other and isolating themselves in their cocoon of pain.

We had a temporary home. In the set, the space, our cast and crew, and in my character. Then we move on.

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