Could thylacines be roaming the fringe? Time Out talks to Sarah Hamilton and Justine Campbell
For Sarah Hamilton, who grew up in Tasmania and worked as a bushwalking guide for six years, Tasmania's thylacine has been life-long fascination.
"It was almost a fantasy to think that the Tasmanian tiger was still out there and that I might one day see one," she says, remembering the long treks into the wilderness.
Now this writer and performer is transforming her fascination into art, bringing a new thylacine-themed show to the Melbourne Fringe, working with regular collaborator Justine Campbell.
Hamilton's obsessions were nourished in childhood by the many stories circulating of strange things seen in the wild. Indeed, her own parents have seen ‑ or claim to have seen ‑ the elusive carnivorous marsupial.
"It was late at night, on the east coast," says Hamilton. "Mum has no doubt that it was a thylacine. But my dad never talked about it. When I asked him he would say, 'Oh, I don't remember that'."
Now that his daughter is writing a show about thylacine sightings, his memory of the event has returned, but this, says Hamilton, highlights one of the problems in talking about the thylacine: "People are afraid of being ridiculed."
A consequence of this silence is that we've never really faced up to the conservation implications of the thylacine's disappearance.
Although, Hamilton works by day as a presenter at Melbourne Zoo she insists that They Saw a Thylacine is not a lecture.
"It's not a lament, and it's not educational," she says.
According to Justine Campbell, director and performer, it will be fantasy mix of dialogue, monologue and funky stage design.
"It's a narrative two-hander," says Campbell. "It's a comedy, with glitter, fake nails, flesh and thylacines. And maybe some dry ice."