GETTING TO KNOW: REBECCA DUKE

Rebecca Duke is a twenty-one year old writer and student raised in Tasmania. In 2021, she is starting her third year of a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics/ Bachelor or Arts at the ANU. She is also finishing off her resident artist term at Canberra Youth Theatre. In 2019, she was involved in both ATYP’s National Studio and CARCLEW’s Writing Place. Both residencies have resulted in Currency Press published anthologies featuring her plays. Right now she is working on two projects for CYT; a commissioned play with the mentorship of Mary Rachel Brown and a performance outcome alongside the other CYT residents. Her new play, Church Sweet Church, is a love letter to home.

Photo Credit: Adam McGrath

THE STREET TALKED TO REBECCA ABOUT FIRST SEEN DEVELOPMENT OF HER WORK, CHURCH SWEET CHURCH.

WHY THEATRE?

Unlike other forms of writing, my script isn’t the final product. The reason I love theatre is because there are so many other artists involved in making the production happen. It’s so much funnier getting to create with other people.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THEATRE AS A FORM?

The idea of my characters coming to life in real bodies is so inspiring to me. I love hearing an actor speak my dialogue. They always make it better than I ever imagined.

AS AN EMERGING WRITER, WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACING YOU IN DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR WRITING VOICE AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES?

There are very few opportunities and lots of talented people going for them. This is scary sometimes but I know it pushes me to be my best so it’s not all bad.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON YOUR ARTS PRACTICE?

Because there was such a focus on streaming theatre I had access to productions I never would have otherwise. Watching other people’s work teaches me so much about how I want my works to be.

YOUR WORK, CHURCH SWEET CHURCH, IS PART OF THE STREET’S FIRST SEEN 2021 PROGRAM. TELL US MORE ABOUT THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA.

A few key moments came together to generate the idea in my head.

My Mum’s friends bought a church which they wanted to convert into their home. I found this so interesting because in my mind a church is a very formal place whereas a home is where you can let yourself be flawed and human. I couldn’t stop thinking about this and started to wonder how the experience might be even more complicated if they had been a gay couple.

The second moment was when I was explaining to my girlfriend at the time that when you walk into a new place as a Christian you can pick out pretty easy who other people in your community are. She pointed out that it’s really similar for queer people. This moment was really integral in prompting my focus on community in the play.

WHAT THEMES ARE YOU EXPLORING?

There are some big themes in this play including; faith, death, sexuality, and community.

YOU HAVE BEEN DEVELOPING THE WORK WITH DRAMATURG EMILIE COLLYER VIA ZOOM AND WILL HEAR ACTORS READ YOUR WORK SOON. WHAT IS THE PROCESS?

Emilie has been so wonderful in her ability to open up my thinking about the play. I’m so keen to hear what the other artists involved think of the work. Emilie has been so wonderful in her ability to open up my thinking about the play. Every session is different and she pushes me a little harder each time.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS DEVELOPMENT WORK?

I’ve never done anything like this before so I really have no idea what to expect. I’m hoping to walk out of the development with a better play than I went in with.

WHAT KIND OF THEATRE DO YOU WANT TO MAKE?

I want my work to be serious, funny and romantic all at once.

WHAT IS INSPIRING YOU IN THE PERFORMING ARTS?

I’m so inspired by the work of other playwrights I know. There’s such exciting work being produced by young Australian playwrights. I can’t wait to see where all my talented friends take the future of Australian theatre.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AND WATCHING CURRENTLY?

I loved streaming the National Theatre’s production of Angels in America. It’s my favourite play and this version was so beautiful. I also just finished reading Fiona Wright’s Domestic Interior. It’s the best poetry collection I’ve ever read.