Sarah Carradine is a director and writer, with works ranging from dirty underground cabaret to the stage of the Sydney Opera House. Her production of Romeo et Juliette for Opera Australia toured Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. She wrote and directed the chamber opera The Cockatoos, commissioned by Victorian Opera, which was nominated for an Australian Writers Guild Award. Her plays Barb and Richard were recently produced in Sydney. In 2015, she was Artist in Residence at Cascade Gorge in Launceston, working on her play Still Afraid of Water, which is in development with Blue Cow Theatre. She wrote and directed Perch, which had seasons in Cambridge, at United Solo Festival Off-Broadway, and in Sydney at Belvoir St downstairs. She has worked throughout Australia, as well as in London, Edinburgh, New York, Christchurch, Portland and Boston.
In 2016 writer/director/performance maker Sarah Carradine will be in residence developing and investigating her new performance work Dark White.
OKAY, WE’RE DYING TO KNOW ABOUT DARK WHITE. WHAT’S AT THE HEART OF THE STORY? WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO DIG INTO WHILE YOU’RE IN RESIDENCY?
The heart of the story is adventure and courage; women setting out into unknown space – geographic and imaginative – and bearing up to whatever they find there. There are stories of sadness, of resilience and powerful connections over time and space between the characters.
IS THERE A STEP BY STEP PROCESS BEHIND A SUCCESSFUL SCRIPT DEVELOPMENT? IF SO, WHAT IS IT?
All of the processes I have been through with my plays and opera have been different. However, what is common among them is a playful research process where I’m not quite sure what I’m going to get, but I plunge forward anyway. Rather like the women adventurers in Dark White.
YOUR WORK IS SO DIVERSE (DIRTY UNDERGROUND CABARET AT THE OPERA HOUSE?) IS THERE A GUIDING PRINCIPLE BEHIND EVERYTHING YOU DO?
I make work that has an overt theatricality. That doesn’t mean it is over the top, but rather that the work ignites in the live arena, and feeds on an exchange with the audience.
HOW MUCH RESEARCH GOES INTO YOUR WORK?
Some pieces, like my recent play ‘Perch’, were just waiting in the murky depths of my dreams, with others, there is an extensive research process. For Dark White, having the opportunity to study the Elizabeth Chipman papers at the NLA has been a rare privilege. She was the first woman member of the ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition). I’m also reading everything I can get my hands on about colonising Mars. The Falklands war is also a focus. (Bet you can’t wait to see the play now!)
WHO DO YOU TRUST TO READ DRAFTS, IF ANYONE?
My early drafts should not be read by anyone ever. They are a free place to play and find the language of the work. Once I am at the stage where an outside mind would be useful, and the work looks more like a play than an explosion in a spaghetti factory, I have two fellow writers I entrust with my work, both friends and colleagues of many years standing. I don’t send them the work so they can tell me how much they like it (though of course, I very much hope they do). I have a few of questions to ask them, and their answers are then useful for the redrafting of the work.
THEY SAY ‘WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW’. HOW MUCH STOCK DO YOU PUT INTO THAT? IS THERE AN ELEMENT OF YOUR REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE IN EVERYTHING YOU WRITE OR IS SOME WORK PURE DREAMING?
I put no stock in ‘write what you know’, that is what research is for. However, I do think it is interesting to ask why a writer wants to tell a particular story. For me, stories start from an image, or a fragment of plot, or a character, but always there arises a question that I then explore through the characters and the situations.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF CREATIVE ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?
I think it was the Goddess Nike who said – Just do it.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YOU STARTED OUT?
You find out what you need to know as you go along. That’s a wonderful part of this never-ending process of making art.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CHAT!