The play’s Australian Writer, Amelia Roper, was able to answer some questions about the play, her other projects and more.
Tell us a bit about the play.
It’s an absurd play about two straight, wealthy, privileged American couples in a park on an awkwardly small picnic blanket, during the Global Financial Crisis, wishing they had a dog. When I write about how odd the world is, I often write about straight couples, they are quite odd, to me.
What inspired the story?
I was living in Melbourne and I wanted to study playwriting, and up until recently, all the drama schools taught all disciplines but no one taught writing, no one. So I got a big scholarship to the Yale School of Drama and moved to the USA. And I just landed in the middle of an America trying to re-imagine itself post GFC. I remember a family trying to give away their dog because they didn’t have a house anymore.
What made you decide to deal with more serious issues in a comedic way?
True answer, it’s the only thing I know how to do. My brother died and I wrote a funny play about it. Funny and horrible go together for me, they always have. But my fancy answer is, It’s Only Funny If It’s True. That’s the rule. And no one gets a laugh for being almost true, so you have to be good.
Amelia Roper - Image © Jackson Xia
What do you think will be different about the Australian production of the play?
Wow, yeah, I dunno. It’s actually a little terrifying, I mean, I wonder if people will go on the ride with us as easily as they do in America because Americans have lived through the absurd tragedy of the GFC and the housing crisis and now Trump. But Aussies are better at understanding absurd plays and living in the discomfort of art without, hmm, redemption? I also think Australia is more sexist than America and this play is about that, too.
It seems like you’ve decided to stick around Australia for a while, can you tell us about some of your other projects on the way?
I’m writing a TV comedy about secret karaoke lovers with the brilliant, hilarious Michala Banas (Amber Wheeler, 'Upper Middle Bogan') and my beautiful friend Nicole Da Silva (Franky, 'Wentworth') and I are dreaming up some cool new things. I think they are two of the smartest women I’ve ever known and also the best actors but also completely different which is wonderful. And yeah, my inner teenager still wants to work in all the big Aussie theatres. Ten years ago I wasn’t ready for them and they weren’t ready for me but maybe one day. I’m still busy in America too, with 'GLOW', and a very cool film I’m not allowed to talk about yet and I have a new play in New York, so I’ll come and go.
Did your sexuality ever affect the path you took?
Absolutely. All the time, every day. I question authority because authority tells me I’m wrong and I refuse to believe that. So, like many of us, the act of simply believing in myself becomes a political act. I refuse to compromise ethically and I won’t do anything I don’t agree with, I just flat out refuse. It’s not an easy life, I’ve made many stupid career choices but it’s made space for huge, surprising things that really matter.
There are some huge names that you’ve worked with, like Jenji Kohan and Gloria Steinem. Can you tell us more about working with them?
Yes! I still work for both of them and they still blow my mind. I met Gloria on a theatre project maybe two years ago. We started talking about the internet, about information and who controls it. And I was all about the internet, I was like, Gloria, the internet is so amazing. I taught her what a meme was. But now I’m not so sure. Gloria says social justice movements takes about one hundred years, and they go through stages. First, a time of consciousness raising, then we name things, then a majority consensus, then a backlash, then, if we have true democracy we get real change. But we don’t have true democracy, yet, and most activists fight for things they will not see in their own lifetimes. And as for Jenji and 'GLOW', we’re shooting season two now. Last week we announced a new character, a hot, funny, out-and-proud lesbian. I’m excited.
Do you have any advice to offer other queer writers breaking into the business?
Get a girlfriend. I dunno. I want a girlfriend. Do I? I think so. Yeah. Or don’t get one because you’ll write more if you’re lonely. Maybe. Okay, biggest piece of advice. Lots of people will give you advice. Sometimes people you really admire will give you really bad advice. Be ready for that. And do whatever you like, that’s my advice. Do something no one else could possibly have imagined. And then do it again. Why? Because that’s your job. That’s actually your whole job.
Do you have a stand out moment from your career so far?
When I was maybe 20 and writing my second play, I was talking to the wonderful Aussie playwright John Romeril, and I was like, “This is terrible! I wrote my first play in two weeks, it won an award, it was scary but I know what I’m doing now! I really thought this time might be easier!” And he smiled and said, “Nah, it gets harder and harder and harder and then you die”. And I thought, wow, bummer. But I also thought, fine, bring it on. Because the only thing worse than writing is not writing. (This is my idea of a beautiful moment. This is why I’m single.)
Why do people need to see the new show?
They don’t. They could read a book instead. I could list some books I highly recommend, like 'Two Serious Ladies' by Jane Bowles. Or they could watch the documentary 'Killswitch' about Aaron Swartz. Or they could eat some cheese. Or buy a sausage dog. But if they want to see a play, this play is funny, short and it’s about sausage dogs and cheese and ice cream and the performances are stunning and if you like new plays but not shit new plays you should really come say hi.
'She Rode Horses Like The Stock Exchange' plays Kings Cross Theatre until 11 November.
What do you do in your day-to-day life? I drink way too much coffee, pat way too many dogs and cats on the street, try and be more of a socially responsible human with each day... and lots of Netflix/time spent goofing around with my partner. I also just bought a fixie so I need to learn how to ride it now that warmer weather is coming.Read more: