Luke Mullins talks to Time Out about the subconscious and collaboration
Theatre Works and Stuck Pigs Squealing present night maybe by Kit Brookman, the first in part two of Theatre Works' 2013 Selected Works Program. After being abandoned by her brother Tom on the side of the road, Sasha sets out to find him, from a park at night, to an alleyway, to Siberia and finally home.
The story explores the pair’s shifting relationship and touches on the instability of gender and sexual identity as Sasha uncovers more than she has expected.
"As a metaphor, the brother and the sister, at least to me, represent the male and female parts of one person," explains director and core company member Luke Mullins. "In the subconscious these two identities struggle with each other for supremacy. And something or someone has to be left behind for one of them to dominate."
For Sasha, it's a journey of discovery where she encounters this brother figure in several different personas. She meets him as a girl, as an older man and as a boy, before discovering his true self, and realising that she has to let go.
This dreamy, faintly menacing brother-and-sister scenario might bring back memories of Lally Katz's The Eisteddfod, from 2004, which was also produced by Stuck Pigs Squealing. It's the kind of work the company is best known for, work that tilts between the domestic and the surreal, work that conjures the world of the subconscious or dreamscapes.
"One of the things that sustains the company, I think," says Mullins, "is the challenge of putting dream worlds on stage."
The group has been working together now for ten years, on and off. Regular members involved in this project include lighting designer Richard Vabre and performer Brian Lipson. It's the first new production presented by the company since the Apocalypse Bear Trilogy in 2009, although Mullins is keen to assure us that the group have not been idle in the meantime, developing a number of new projects, including a new piece by Lally Katz to be directed by founding member Chris Kohn.
"Stuck Pigs Squealing is more a group of regular collaborators," says Mullins. "Artists who work on particular kinds of work in particular kinds of ways. We all have freelance careers, and at every industry level, but this is a place where we can get together and connect with work that is common to us all. And then that feeds into the freelance work that we do in other contexts."
The trick, he says, is not to force it: "When the project comes along, we make it happen."
Kit Brookman is relatively new to the group. Earlier this year he had a show on at La Mama, Heaven, which won NSW's 2012 Phlip Parsons Young Playwright Award, a show with a much less surreal aesthetic.
"Night maybe is just one area of his work," says Mullins. "Kit also does those more naturalistic plays. But even there his particular humour has something which we find interesting."
Here the interest is specifically in uncovering the epic and mythic structures that lie behind the everyday.
"In the same way," says Mullins, "that dreams heighten the experience of ordinary."
Directed by Luke Mullins and starring Tom Conroy, Sarah Ogden, Brian Lipson and Marcus McKenzie.