Q&A With the Wild Women of Wildskin

Q&A With the Wild Women of Wildskin

NORPA’s new work Wildskin is set to takes us on an outrageous ride into the unknown. Showcasing an all-female ensemble of riotous physical performers, who each portray an array of hilarious, recognisable and oddball characters the original production flirts with bush-horror conventions, to bring a night of dark and daring theatre.

We sit down with two local women of Wildskin to discuss their roles, the process of devising new and courageous work and the challenges and joys of making it in regional Australia.

Viviane Frehner | Devisor & Performer

Tell us a little about your role within the creative team for NORPA’s new show Wildskin…

My role within the creative team for Wildskin is the one of a deviser and performer, meaning being given concepts, script, story, visions and then come up with ideas how to implement those ideas, visions and images and make them happen on stage.

Each of the women performing in Wildskin come from different disciplines and bring their own perspective to the work – what do you think you bring? 

I am a professional dancer and I definitely feel in my forte when it comes to devising movement. Wildskin is a physical theatre show  – it’s an unique format of integrated movement and text. I am trying to help build that bridge between the two disciplines, movement and text, which is challenging but exciting territory.

Is the process for Wildskin very different from dance and physical theatre works you have created?

For me yes! I have been in a few physical theatre performances in the past, but never worked in a show that uses a whole narrative theatrical script. I of course had some little text passages in past dance performances here and there, but not really linear and narrative text from a script that encompasses the whole performance. So working with text and trying to merge it with movement organically is new to me and a great challenge.

What excites you about Wildskin?

That challenge mentioned above and also the amazing cast. I am learning every day from the amazing talented women I have the pleasure to work with.

What are the challenges and joys of working as creative in the Northern Rivers?

When coming to the Northern Rivers 4 years ago I thought that my career was over, careers in the arts are mostly associated with living in big cultural cities…But that didn´t seem to be true for me after all! I actually have built a rich network with regional artists in the Northern Rivers in the past and have continued performing and creating actively. There is a very vibrant arts scene here and I feel very inspired by it! Of course there are not as many job opportunities as there are in cities here but there also is not as much competition. It still is hard to get funding though, but that is the case in the whole country and in many countries in the world anyway. There is never enough funding for the arts.

A disadvantage of being a creative in the Northern Rivers is maybe that I don´t have access to as many (international) workshops as I would if I lived in the city, but in exchange I enjoy being surrounded by beautiful nature and calmness which I appreciate so much. It actually is a dream come true:  my beloved nature and beachy life style combined with doing and creating exciting local arts projects.

Hattie Dalton | Story & Writer

Tell us a little about your role within the creative team for NORPA’s new show Wildskin…

Director, Julian Louis, and I have known each other for a long time and have always enjoyed “jamming” ideas. He is a great collaborator so I didn’t hesitate when he asked me to write the story for Wildskin.

What are the challenges and joys of working as creative in the Northern Rivers?

The combination of living regionally and raising a family here in the Northern Rivers have been the biggest challenges to my career in the arts because naturally there are more opportunities available in the metropolitan centres of Australia. On the other hand, while I have experienced the frustration at times of feeling I’ve had to sacrifice my career in some ways by choosing to live here, I have also been grateful for engaging with the melting pot of talented creatives that have chosen the same path. We get to live in arguably one of the most beautiful, health-inspiring areas of the country and still manage to do what we love. Living here I think it’s even more essential to be tapped in to what’s on and who is creating interesting projects. Now my youngest is at school I’ve been able to become more involved in the creative community which has really paid off.

This is the first time you have written for theatre, how different is it to writing for film? What have you enjoyed about the process?

It was completely new territory for me writing for theatre. It’s as far removed from writing for film as writing a novel would be, and the challenge was fascinating. While film and theatre are both visual and aural experiences the language is entirely different. Also, I have only every written for film when I have been the director as well, so it’s been both interesting and liberating to hand over the material to Julian and the creative team to bring it to life.

At the beginning of the process, I delved into the existing research and then put it aside to immerse myself fully in character and story arc. I know the creative team were going to explore and devise through physical theatre and the lens of the bush-horror genre so I knew the form was taken care of. My job was to concentrate on the protagonist Eva. I needed to understand who she is, why she goes on her journey and how she changes by the extreme situations she encounters along the way. I think it’s very much an exploration of her courage to traverse inwards to discover her sense of belonging.

It’s been my role in writing the story to make sure that the principal narrative and themes have been represented. Dramaturg, Janis Balodis, and I have worked together on helping the plot and making sure the actors have plenty of material in the form of dialogue and monologues to work with. Throughout the process It was a challenge to fathom how what I was writing would be interpreted by such physical players but everything I’ve seen in the creative development process so far has truly blown me away!

NORPA has championed works with strong female leads and creatives, particularly this season. Is gender representation something you think about when you are writing new works?

I write female characters because they are interesting, complex, full of paradox and humour, just as every human being is, man or woman. But women are generally under-represented in all forms of story-telling in our culture and it’s essential that there is more balance across the board.


A NORPA original work Wildskin | Friday 28 – Saturday 29 + Wednesay 3 – Saturday 6 October 2018 | Lismore City Hall | Tickets $20 – $49 | BUY TICKETS