Writers Q and A went fantastically! After the performance the writers came to stage and talked about writing for a multiplaywright production, their process, casting and more.
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.
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!
Nicole Dimitriadis and I (Felicity Pickering) have loved reading the posts that have come in for A View From Moving Windows. It’s been a privilege showcasing so many talented writers! The only downside is when it’s come to write our own, we have to write something that could sit alongside posts with such calibre! So here goes nothing…
In cinema, trains are meant to represent sex.
I use to catch the train home from school. We’d sit on the ground at Croydon station chewing Zappos and harassing whoever had Doritos to ‘give us one’. If a train was cancelled there would be a collective sigh as sixty or so girls decided whether to hightail it to Burwood for an express. The announcement was always followed by an army of tartaned girls in kilts ripping up the stairway. We would have made William Wallace proud, our school principal less so.
My school was fraught with rumours that there was an underground tunnel to the station, that the Old Hall housed a secret passage. The boarders swore they had ventured into it. They would tell us of dirty cement and dead pigeons that watched over the entrance like gargoyles. The stories made my school sound more like the Kremlin than Croydon.
The train had a different culture to the bus, which was quicker but never as exciting. The train had delays, attempted suicides. The train had old men who took delight in sitting in the door carriages with seats facing the girls. Old men who enjoyed letting their legs spread to reveal a fully exposed set of genitals. I suppose that was some kind of abuse.
The train was exciting because it had boys. Thick waves of Lynx preceded them. Black and white lemmings that stank of douchebag. They spoke loudly about rugby games and competed in front of you. It was always a battle. They spat ‘loser’ and ‘chimer’ at each other, harassed one another and tried to assert their authority. The cool girls would laugh and flirt with them, boast about detentions they’d got. It was always the cool girls who knew boys on the train.
I’d keep quiet. I’d try and maintain normal conversation. I’d try to not look like too much of a nerd but not stand out too much.
One day a boy talked to me on the train. I’d just gotten a Body Shop ‘Born Lippy’ Strawberry Lipgloss for my birthday. This particular lipgloss was very hip at the time. The boy saw it in my pale little hand and exclaimed:
‘I love that lipgloss.’
And with one dirty finger he scooped out all the pink sweet smelling gloss and ate it with his big dopish mouth.
Years later when I was doing film studies at uni, I discovered that trains represented sex in cinema. That trains were meant to be phallic symbols that assumed sexual meaning when going through tunnels and bridges.
Suddenly the train schedule became the path of the pene, charting the big steel phallus’ that penetrated Sydney daily. I suppose Sydney trains are phallic in the way they give life to the city and sometimes they come early, or they don’t come at all.
I don’t think of them as symbolising sex but they do symbolise my first reactions to the opposite sex, mild annoyance and a little bit of repulsion.
Want to win two tickets to A View From Moving Windows? Post us your favourite picture that relates to train travel or tweet us a train or Parramatta related microfiction (story in 140 characters or less). The winners get two tickets to the show! If you tweet the microfiction make sure you tweet it to @aviewfrommoving and use the hashtag #aviewfrommovingwindows .
Here are some of the great microfictions we’ve already received:
Tina Ngo @NgoTina
Andy Pantts @AndyPantts
@aviewfrommoving Icecream hands. Shirt stuck to back. Burnt, pink skin. Crowded trains to the beach. Sand in my bed for months. Summer time.
Chris Comerford @ChrisComerford3
@aviewfrommoving My life on trains is like a Tom Clancy novel – long and repetitive.
Olivia Mayberry @omayberry1
Can you do better? Tweet it! You can also post a microfiction or leave a story on our facebook page.
Patrick Lenton is here to spice up your Sunday Night with his comic musings. Patrick Lenton is a writer of theatre, prose and comedy. He has just finished up his show 100 Years of Lizards as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. For more of Patrick’s musing check out his blog The Spontaneity Review.
Skynet’s terrifying caterpillar-horses, AKA the train.
From time immemorial, people have looked at that blue concave temptress known as the horizon and become daunted. It is not a small world, despite that moment when you meet your year eight maths teacher in the same brothel in Thailand. The world is large and notoriously difficult to circumnavigate. Distance, which the Latino’s named ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’, is a cruel overlord. Despite desiring to go to Finland, you probably cannot go to Finland all because of the tyranny of distance.
In mankind’s endless war against Distance, one of the deadliest blows struck was the
invention of trains. Trains ate up the landscape with all the ferocity of a dog licking peanut butter. Trains swallowed up people and bore them uncomplainingly to work, the beach and even Finland. Historians, if drunk, will sometimes admit that the success of trains led to other such triumphs as planes, hot air balloons and whales.
But much like that legless veteran outside of the liquor store, rich people avoid trains. Trains have become the domain of the stinking working masses. Packed into the carriages like cabbages in a cabbage-box, the despair and hatred of the passengers seeps into the trains. And now, these once noble industrial steeds are twisted, graffitied wrecks of what they once were. Chugging along painfully like arthritis-ridden snakes on a fun run, they manifest their pain by being constantly late, stinky and full of drunks. They cover themselves in graffiti and honk loudly at night. In the early hours of the morning they rest uneasily in large depots, plotting revenge.
On a train in Vietnam I once spent nine hours playing the card game ’500′ with five other
people. It was a filthy sleeper train, with hard bunks along the wall where this was supposed to take place. The first two hours slipped by easily, filled with learning the game, drinking beer and general banter. After the third hour, the game had taken on a competitive edge, the conversation turned to quips and jibes. By the fourth hour, there were already call backs to earlier jokes. There was a strange feeling of timelessness, of endless hands of cards, the never ending rattle of the train.
Around the fifth hour, confidences were being shared. We were told of lost loves and past
mistakes. A story shared between three of our fellow card players turned into a dispute, and we lost a player, storming off into the rickety train. A brief lull followed. I made my way again to the swaying stench bucket that passed for a toilet and sang loudly as I urinated. It felt right.
The sixth hour was sad, filled with silence and terse commands. Looking around the room,
at these people we’d only met a day earlier, I began inventing a scenario where I would fight them on a battlefield. Charging across trenches in France perhaps, I wanted nothing more than to bayonet them directly in the face and have them realise it was that guy they beat in Vietnam in that stupid, interminable card game. Oh yeah, and I’d been losing for many, many rounds.
The seventh hour was filled with a reckless mania, an enthusiasm that was as directionless
as it was annoying. The conversation consisted of repeated Simpson’s quotes and then cackling wildly. I began to win, buoyed on by a rising tide of absurdity. I saw my foes begin to falter under the deranged onslaught of my ability to draw connections between two, three and even four completely separate pop cultural references. I began amusing nobody but myself, but I was happy.
In the eighth hour, we had an enforced ten minutes of silence. Most of us giggled all the
way through it. The game was close to being won, and our patience all but gone. But I think we wanted to do it – we wanted to be able to say we finished the game. And it was around this time that I realised this card game, this nine hour long monstrous train ride was an analogy for life. But I was too tired to think it through. I think in some ways I’m still too tired to think it through, but I do know this. I have no memory of who won that game.