A Rabbit For Kim Jong-il asks the question ‘is it possible to forgive great crimes?’ And if it is not, ‘how then can we live?’ Sitting in the matinee on Saturday as details of the attacks in Paris were flooding news sources, forgiveness felt further away than ever, and ever more necessary.
The season at the Stables finishes this Saturday and we move out to Riverside Theatres, Parramatta for a week. So Kit Brookman’s text will be clanging around in my head as, like everyone else, I digest the reportings of actions and reactions around the world. The words of a fictional world are wrapping themselves around the words of a real world. The power of writers, be they playwright or journalist to shape our stories, to provoke our politics, to analyse our past and imagine our futures, to record ideas, is never more apparent than in weeks like these, and yes, there are far too many weeks like these. Aftermath weeks.
As I hear President Hollande declare “France is at war” I also hear Mark Twain’s voice “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.” Now I know Twain is not an Australian writer, but the quote came across my desk last week on the cover of a play by a young Australian playwright trying to write about Afghanistan. I want you to know that I am reading the works of so many playwrights wrestling with the big questions of our times. Our playwriting community faces the hardest of all challenges – to understand the world we live in now and transmit that understanding to us in a story that can be told on a stage.
I want you to know that playwrights are not avoiding the times we are in, but that the process of reflecting our times is hard and long – I am receiving ideas, I am reading drafts, I am hearing readings, there are workshops happening. The plays will come to the stage when they are ready. When we talk about developing plays that is the process we are referring to. Thank you for all your responses to our season of plays this year – your responses are part of the process of forming the next season and the season after that. From Caress/Ache, to The House on the Lake, to The Bleeding Tree, to A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il, 2015 has been a great conversation between Australian playwrights and the audience they are speaking to – you. If forgiveness seems impossible this week, hope does not, as long as this conversation continues.