IIdiko Susany

Ildiko Susany is an actor and writer. A View From Moving Windows is her first Augusta Supple production. Ildiko has written, co-produced and performed in her first full-length play, The Day the Galaxy Inevitably Exploded and Died for the Sydney Fringe Festival 2012 and will be touring with Bell Shakespeare Company in 2013. She has written reviews for Artshub, will participate in Griffin Theatre’s Story Lab Program, runs a blog project Making It. and has been a guest blogger for the Griffin Theatre Artist Blog. You can view the rest of her biography here.

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

I’ve caught a fair few trains in my time. And buses. And trams. I must admit, I do love accepting lifts! Sometimes I’ll even get behind the wheel myself. I’ve caught trains across Queensland, Sydney, New York, Vancouver, London, Europe and Japan. Sydney is a fascinating place. It’s big, it’s bustling and it’s brimming with a most magnificent diversity of culture and art.

I remember my first train adventure in Sydney well – I decided to road trip it with two friends overnight from Brisbane to Sydney and we were on the road within two hours of our initial brainwave! We parked in a random suburb that I had never heard of before, Pymble, at about 7am, tired and excited, and then caught a train into the city. It was the first time I had ever seen a double-decker train in person. I was amazed (and easily impressed as it might seem) by what to me was such an incredible feat of transportation design! I couldn’t even imagine such a high density of commuters to requisite such a stalwart machine. In Tokyo, maybe. That was seven years ago. It was a great adventure and one I still look fondly on today. Our 24-hour whirlwind adventure!

And now? Well, for the past few weeks I have been rehearsing for A View From Moving Windows, an engaging melting pot of stories that weave together the personal, the whimsical and the very curious aspects of life through the lens of train travel. As part of my rehearsal process (and for practical reasons too) I have been catching the train to and from Parramatta for nearly every single rehearsal and performance so far. These train trips have given me the chance to learn lines and stare wistfully out of the window, to admire the buildings, the people and the landscape with nothing but the whir of the train and my own thoughts to keep me company. I have been able to observe my fellow commuters and witness some very interesting moments of human connection: the tough chick, who, whilst endeavouring to impress her friends picked on a younger girl for simply being intrigued by the ‘cool’ older kids obnoxiously lording over the train carriage; the friendly woman who helped out a visiting businessman from Newcastle; or the desperate woman at Parramatta station crying and pleading into a payphone to not let her go to jail because she had a kid, before fleeing hurriedly to the platforms. We never can tell what might happen to us in our day and how people, how humans can surprise us, enrage us or even, enlighten us. There were some very serious moments to witness, dramatic ones, humorous ones as well as the gloriously mundane. These moments have been very beautiful, interesting and revealing, and I guess, are part of what makes A View From Moving Windows feel like such a personal experience filled with something familiar, something extraordinary and something relevant to everyone!

Yet despite all of this, despite the interactions I have noticed over the past month, despite my own thoughts that have carried me from Central to Parramatta, one of the greatest and most magical parts of this wonderful, crazy, moving process has been the delightful and surprising opportunities I’ve had to bond with my fellow cast members. On the train. A friend of mine likens these sorts of situations to ‘speed dating’. You are brought into a close situation with someone that you don’t know very well and have only a short time to get to know that other person, to ask questions, learn something new and fresh and interesting and to offer something great and valuable too! It’s been a whole lot of fun! Whether it was running frantically with Helen and Min – in inappropriate shoes – for the next train back to Central or embarrassingly getting myself caught in the ticket barrier with Alex looking on, I’ve had a great chance to get to know a bunch of wonderful new people and form some really positive relationships offstage. The cast and crew on this project are absolutely delightful and it has been a great experience getting to know them all. Come see their work, it’s beautiful and thoroughly engrossing. And the writing is poignant, sweet and funny.

I have loved my train trips. I love my train buddies. And I love the chance to perform for the first time in the beautiful Riverside Theatres in the bustling, beaming and ever burgeoning cultural hub that is Parramatta! This show is about people, the little experiences, and the connections we make with those around us. As my character in John AD Fraser’s About Face says: “it’s closer to the heart…” So catch the train, grab a loved one, or heck, why not start up a conversation with the commuter nestled beside you on the peak hour train – whatever you do, make the trip to Parramatta and get some culture in ya!

Alison Rooke

Today’s blog post is by Alison Rooke! Alison wrote ‘In the key of E’ for A View From Moving Windows. There is the opportunity to talk to Alison, and other A View From Moving Windows writers, at the Writers Q and A. This will be held tomorrow after the performance. Make sure you’ve booked your tickets!

We were all about trains.

Separate tracks carried us toward a city lit up by beauty and shameless self-promotion. Locked in silver carriages hurtling though places I would never visit, I’d primp and preen as if a hair out of place or a skirt not sitting perfectly on a hip would be the deciding factor in whether you loved me or not, noticed me or not.

In a class at the end of the tracks, I’d sit behind you, staring… that neck, the brown and white striped jumper you’d wear when it rained, the way you played with your hair, curly, twisting and pulling. I’d wish we could board a train and go to all the places in my head, where I was different and you loved me.

That Thursday. My mind a bubble of you, the sound of you laughing at a joke I’d made in class. You’d turned, nodded once. I smiled, looked away. You saw me.

That Thursday I caught the wrong train.

I was thinking about all the different platforms and suburbs that your train carried you past everyday and before I knew it, there I was, sitting in a carriage, on a train drifting past all those same stations. Your train.

My cheeks burned, my head buzzed. Your train smelt like coffee and burnt sugar.

Sydenham station. Sitting on the platform waiting for my train to arrive, to transport me back to where I belonged. Your face, your face, your face.

Your face in front of me. On the train, in front of me. You looking out the window. Looking at me on the platform. You right there.  A sign. You saw me. You smiled and

raised a hand as the carriage eased out of the platform headed for beachside suburbs. I nodded once. You saw me.

You first kissed me on a train.  A kiss so startling I laughed out loud into your mouth. You took the laugh in. Absorbed it, covered it with belonging. Your eyes opened a little wider and I loved you.

A row of carriages took you away. A thick and heavy summer night. The interstate rail line at Central, tracks nestled beneath a canopy of goodbyes. You, bouncing on your heels in excitement … me, gulping down fragments of empty.

The train sat, watching our farewell, quietly aware that it was about to carry you off to new stations, new experiences. Places you didn’t want to see with me.

You kissed me quick. You took none of me in. You nodded once and then you were gone.

We were all about trains.

Melissa Werry

Today’s blog post is from Melissa Werry. Melissa is writing all the way from Paris where she is trying to turn herself French, one stripy shirt at a time. Read more about it on her blog: Turn Me French.

Mind The Gap

Melissa Werry on a train in Florence.

Australians like to think of ourselves as a patriotic country. We enjoy our own national holiday, we boast our own breakfast spread in the colour and consistency of tar, and many of our citizens sport large Southern Cross tattoos in places that the nationals of other countries would describe as obnoxious or more simply, unattractive.

But compared with its European aunts and uncles, Australia is still in swaddling clothes. With its relatively brief lifespan, modern Australian society has not developed a sense of national identity as strong as those who trail ancient histories. To define “Australian” is a difficult thing to do, because we do not have the benefit of the tens of centuries that some other countries have to develop our understanding of self.

Some would argue – though probably not the residents of Villawoood – that this youthfulness and ultimate lack of defining culture allows us to spread our arms wide to accept change and difference in a way that those with more deeply entrenched national identities cannot. But with all my depth of experience after one week in France, I am beginning to think that the reality is quite the inverse: perhaps the stronger a national identity, the more shock absorbent it will be. Perhaps an older nation will experience less identity insecurity, and engage more authentically with others.

How did I reach this conclusion? By catching the train every day. In the carriages of the RER from Thorigny to Paris L’Est I see Arabic women with glittering hair veils smiling at little white babies in the seats opposite them. And old ladies in pink tweed who offer handkerchiefs to young black men in basketball caps and chains who worked up a sweat to make it through the automatic doors just as they were closing. And African men in suits who leave their cards with young white students in search of a job. And teenaged girls sporting leopard print pants and bright pink hair who allow gray haired women to laugh at them as they overhear their phone calls to their mothers asking them to turn on the washing machine.

I won’t pretend I haven’t seen the pictures in newspapers of young Maghrébins setting cars alight in the street, or heard the debates on the laws against the burqa or the future survival of the French language. But that is not the France I have seen first hand. The French I see in the carriages of the RER are not scared of the gap. They don’t mind the gap. In fact they seem not to notice it.

Writers Q & A

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

Are you interested in writing? Want to know more about more about A View From Moving Windows process? Then you should definitely come on to the A View From Moving Windows performance on Wednesday night (24th of October). It will be followed by a Q & A session with our very entertaining writers. Make sure you book early as this performance is likely to sell out fast!

Book tickets here.

 

Pictures from A View From Moving Windows

 Here are some pictures from A View From Moving Windows.
These amazing images are by the incredible Marnya Rothe.
Make sure you’ve got your tickets

Pip Smith

The amazing Pip Smith, founder of Penguin Plays Rough, has written us a blog entry!

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

About three hours ago I was on the train coming back from the airport. At central, this guy in a suit sat next to me and started talking just as I was punching out a text. He said, “I have just realised my job doesn’t make me happy.” His eyes were slightly yellow, and i wondered if he had been drinking. I said, “what do you do?” “I look at discrepancies between shipping lists. Logistics. I work for a Korean company. I want to work for an Australian company. In Korea we have it all wrong. In Australia the emphasis is on being happy and relaxing. In Korea the emphasis is on being strong.” I said, “I’m not sure you got that right – about Australia.” At Wynyard, an elderly businessman sat next to us, so we had to squeeze right up against the window. I asked the Korean man, “When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?” He leaned in towards me and whispered, “a monk”, I said “sorry, what?” he said “a monk.” He lifted up his wrist and showed me the bracelet he was wearing. “I’m Buddhist. When I was younger, I visited a temple and saw Buddha’s face. It made me so calm. His face – it wasn’t warm or cold.” “It was neutral?” “Yes. Are you a Buddhist?” I said, “No. I’ve never really understood the whole ‘letting go of desire’ thing. It’s always struck me that desire can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Desire can motivate you. And attachment. Attachment to your children, surely that’s a good thing.” He said, “I see what you mean, but I think you’re confusing desire and compassion. Love and attachment. You can watch your friend die and you feel a great amount of distress. You watch a beggar die and…” He shrugged “maybe you feel bad only for a little while. You think your friend belongs to you, but he doesn’t.” I was stunned. How did he know Tim had just died? “So, what’s your major?” He asked “I’m sorry?” “What do you study?” “How did you know I’m a student?” “I can just tell.” The businessman sitting next to us shifted his newspaper, pretending to read it, but he hadn’t turned the page in some time. After a pause I asked, “Well, can you quit when you go back to Korea? Can you become a monk?” He said, “No. My family.” “Ah, I see.” “My family cause me distress.” “Distress??” “They want me to have babies. But I don’t want to marry.” I said, “Oh yes! I know about that.” And we sat in silence. At North Sydney the aisle of people re-configured itself with muted apologies. As we passed the next stations, he told me about the moon, that at the full moon you can attend tea ceremonies in temples in Japan – and that when you drain a cup, you clear your mind. He told me he’d studied martial arts in Hong Kong because he loved Bruce Lee and that he’d visited India and learned that they came up with the number 0. He told me that a mango grows the way it grows by a chance meeting of sun and rain and other things, and that it also starts from zero. That everything is a product of its context. We were standing by the pond at St Leonards station for about 5 minutes while he started telling me that we are cheated by the world because we can’t see the stars during the day, even though they are there the whole time. I’m not sure what he meant by this, but he was so illuminated by what he was saying I decided to walk with him in the direction of the place he was staying. Turns out he was also staying in Greenwich. He told me that heaven is right here, and that you shouldn’t turn the past into a cliche, and that our minds are full of the future so we miss out on the present. He turned and asked me, ‘do you believe in platonic love?’ And I said, ‘yes.’ And he laughed and said, “Ah! You understand!” When we reached the intersection of Greenwich Rd and the Pacific Hwy I had to leave him. We shook hands. He asked me my name, I said “Pip” He said, “I am Rocky. Rocky Mountain,” and he walked down Greenwich Road.

Rocky Mountain, thanks for the excellent conversation.

Sam Atom Stewart

Sam Atom Stewart has written us a blog post on this special of special days! Sam is a writer who currently living in the south west suburbs, and keeping a daily commute that stretches to Bankstown & the city, Sam is a well established train commuter and has loved watching ‘A View From Moving Windows’ develop, bringing poetry to to the often mundane experience of rail travel. 

Trains are impassive. They don’t wait and they’ll take their time if they need to.
They are a number of adjoining boxes with rules that deliver you places. Sometimes when they promised they would.

I don’t drive a car. And I have a lot of places to be that expect things of me. So I live on trains.

Almost every day I embark, quickly sniff out my territory, and dutifully wrap my bubble tight around me. My smart phone, bag and parcel, blank face bubble which shields the primal part of my brain that hates this. All the closeness to other strange animals I don’t know and can’t truly predict. And then I am mostly switched to another channel for the majority of the journey. However, intermittently, I do notice something worth seeing. Someone’s sparkle peeks through to touch me. Stimulate my curiosity. I think it’s easy to fall in love with people on trains. Momentarily. Get taken by a certain angle of them.
The carriage is a strange place. A war zone at times. Of egos. Of social acceptances.  What is acceptable to you? Will you eat? Drink? Conduct your mobile conversation? Clip your finger nails? What’s your limit for PDAs? If you’re both quiet… how far will you go? Would you have the gall to light up?

It is a shell of a place. You fill it with yourself. All your moods and thoughts and dramas. And everyone else’s’. But, stand or sit next to the right person and something interesting might happen.

I had a day like that. A  moment. Just this year. A journey with someone special.
So. There we were. Standing. Facing each other in the crowded space. And we stood. And we shook with the vibrations of the carriage. Then one smiled and the other stepped closer, their bubbles merging.

Hands lightly resting on hips and wrists. Forehead on forehead. And… lips, just so damn gently, on lips.

My eyes lock on your eyes. Then close. Catching the moment just as it is. Breathing into it. Opening it up. Growing a tentative landscape around it. Delicate. Soft. Unfolding and building.

And I can feel it. Deep and wide and tender. All the love my heart thinks it’s capable of. What is this? Is this the train? Is this you? Is this us?

My mind wandered to our cell mates. Their scandalised looks? The clack of the train on the tracks. But then I let them fall away. Our world is better.

We are the pulsating core of this moment. We become everything. This moment is made of cinema. Breath and touch and time ebbing away by inches.

We have stations only. Stanmore… ”(breathe in…) ”Newtown… ”(breathe out…)”Macdonaldtown ”(breathe in…) ”Redfern… ”(breathe out…) ”And then it’s over. You pull away. You disembark.

I dreamily survey the terrain. Gauge the atmosphere. All seems fine. Unaffected. How bizarre.

The train continues on to Central, still seemingly impassive. The people too, seemingly apathetic. And I, seemingly calm and quiet. But I’m not. I’m sparkling.

Friends in Unexpected Places

On the train home last night, I asked a young artsy man if I could take a picture of him. I wanted a picture of someone looking out the window, looking wistful, for the blog. I had realised from past experience that it was better to ask first. I have had my fair share of people getting annoyed or confused or thinking I was some sort of pervert. This stranger looked like a creative type, so I thought he might be willing to sacrifice a moment for the Arts.

The man obliged without a question. Then I asked if I could film him looking out the window.
‘You want me to play?’ He replied, gesturing towards the guitar that was sitting next to him.
I hadn’t thought to ask but encouraged him to do so. In between the few stops left he improvised a song. I told him about A View From Moving Windows and he told me quickly about the band he had just gone to practice for. The bands name was ‘Liam Gale and The Pony Tails‘. The band consisted of him, two girls (with pony tails) and four boys (one with pony tail).

It struck me as a wonderful example of how train travel can make us reach out to people we wouldn’t usually interact with. The fact that Liam happened to be a musician was a happy accident and trains are full of those.

Partly inspired by ideas brought up by Augusta’s interview with TheMusic.com.au, I wanted to urge those of you who are going to A View From Moving Windows to catch the train in. It’ll save you petrol and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have your own train travel experience. It is in these unexpected moments that we can find laughter, friends, new music tastes and find ourselves feeling a little more connected with the world.