Playwright and author Hannie Rayson brings her sublimely comedic one-woman show, Hello, Beautiful! to Griffin this July. To find out more, we asked Hannie some questions about life, family and touring a solo show around Australia.
1. What’s been your most memorable performance to date?
My tour manager and I arrived on a Saturday afternoon at Lake Charm. The paddocks were shimmering with emptiness. There was a shop and petrol pump, but they were closed.
And yes, it did occur to me that we might have driven 298 km to the NSW border for the edification of three men and a kelpie.
But OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH.
Before long, an army of farmers’ wives arrived at the Lake Charm Hall. The jolliest, friendliest women on the planet, who laid out a fabulous spread of asparagus rolls, cream puffs, club sangers and every type of slice you can imagine. And when the historic curtain rolled up on the hall’s perfect little stage, the auditorium was bursting at the seams. There were even people bussed in from Cohuna!
Boort, Elmore and Heathcote were also contenders. I especially liked the day the sound desk caught fire.
2. What are you currently reading?
Australian playwright Alana Valentine’s Bowerbird – The art of making theatre from life. I’m loving this book. I feel so buoyed by it. Being a playwright is a tough gig. And yet…what a life we lead. I am so happy to be reading about hers.
3. You’re a frequent visitor to Sydney. What would be your ideal day here?
I have fabulous cousins who live in Sydney. Regardless of season or weather, they meet on the beach at Bondi at 6am and swim between the headlands. Then the swimmers decamp to a coffee shop for breakfast.
After that, I would take off on the Bondi to Coogee walk.
I would then drop by Performing Lines and have lunch with them. This is my touring company and I love them. They make lunch for each other, most days.
Then at night I would go to Griffin to see a play.
4. How was the adaptation process for the show? How did you choose which stories in the book would make it to the stage?
There are forty-three stories in my memoir and only eight of them make it to the stage. After my book was first published, I spent a year on the literary circuit, sort of “performing myself” to audiences from Perth to Cairns. I started to get an idea of what worked. That said, I’ve been a playwright for 35 years. So I do know a bit about making theatre. I surprised myself!
5. What’s your next adventure?
I’m meeting my son in Greece. You expect your kids to have different tastes to you, but when my son said his favourite place in the whole world is Greece, I jumped for joy. It’s mine too. I’m writing a film script set on a Greek island. So naturally I have to go there.