In Conversation: Kirsty Marillier


Kirsty Marillier is the playwright of Griffin’s first Main Season production for 2022, Orange Thrower. With Orange Thrower‘s extended season wrapping up this Saturday 26 March, Kirsty has put together a handy bundle of books, music, art and beyond that inspired her during the playwriting process for Orange Thrower and continue to inspire her. Luckily for fans of Orange Thrower, Kirsty has shared her bundle of inspiration for audiences to explore to deepen their understanding of some of the themes and cultural phenomena that surround Orange Thrower, in her own words. Let’s dive in!

1.What We LoseZinzi Clemmons

I love, love, love this book. I read this novel around the same time as I started drafting Orange Thrower in 2018. It’s about a writer named Thandi, who is a mixed race young woman who lives in the States. Her mother is South African and her father is African American, and after her mum’s passing she begins to explore grief and her own sexuality at the same time as moving back home with her father. There are time jumps, it’s gorgeous. This is one of my top recommendations.

2. PassingNella Larsen

This novel was published in 1929 and has recently been made into a film starring Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson (available on Netflix). I haven’t seen the movie yet but have been meaning to!

3. Is God IsAleshea Harris

Is God Is is just an amazing play. There’s no direct relation to Orange Thrower here but I’m deeply inspired by Aleshea Harris as a writer. The play was on at the Royal Court (and I actually had tickets to that production before COVID happened!).

4. Lost in JunePip Millett

This album is really beautiful. It’s new-wave soul, it’s absolutely gorgeous and there’s one song in particular called Make Me Cry that makes me think about Orange Thrower all the time. I always listen to music when I write.

Pip Millett‘s album artwork was one of the sources of inspiration for the Orange Thrower photo, too! Our image is an extrapolation of this image of her.

5.‘Coloured’ Mentality

There’s a YouTube series called ‘Coloured’ MentalityThe series creators are these two amazing women from Cape Town who call themselves ‘Khoi Activists’ because they consider themselves to be of Khoisan descent. Their names are Sarah and Kelly and they describe themselves and the series as ‘a lesbian couple, trying to figure out their own complex identity as ‘coloured’ 20-somethings.’  The series is really informative and cool and they interview a bunch of really prolific people in South Africa, like radio presenters and actors and  writers, all of whom have very interesting things to say about the subject matter that Orange Thrower traverses.

6. TwilightGregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson is an American photographer who does tableaux of American homes and neighbourhoods. There’s a lot about the streets of Paradise (the fictional suburb of Perth in which Orange Thrower is set) that reminds me of these images. They’re always melancholic and surrealist and strange, but also about mundane domestic environments.

7. Not White Enough, Not Black EnoughMohamed Adhikari

This is an academic text that really helped me in my thinking when writing Orange Thrower. Recommended!

8.Drummies—Alice Mann

This is an incredible series of images taken by Alice Mann of South African drummy girls. Drummy is the colloquial name for ‘drum majorettes’ which I believe is a British tradition that’s been passed down and is quite prevalent in lower socioeconomic communities in South Africa because it’s a great way for young women to learn team-building skills and coordination. My mum did it and I did it as well—it actually used to exist in the play at one point! They’re sort of like marching band routine—it’s really kind of weird!

9. Because I Couldn’t Kill You—Kelly-Eve Koopman

This is a book by one of the creators of ‘Coloured’ Mentality. She’s written her own novel and it’s so beautiful.

10. Zara Julius

Zara Julius is a social practice artist, cultural researcher and vinyl selector based in Johannesburg. She’s a cool chick—she’s got a photo diary, she’s a DJ, she’s a multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker.

Two honourable mentions must go to Swing Time by Zadie Smith (just a great book from the OG) and Shining Star by The Manhattans (an absolute bop). Happy exploring!

Orange Thrower by Kirsty Marillier closes at the SBW Stables Theatre on Saturday 26 March, before enjoying a short season at Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta.