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!