Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MOTH- Declan Greene - INTERVIEWS

MOTH Returns

The hugely successful play MOTH has returned to The Malthouse. Paul Andrew talks to writer Declan Greene.

Declan Greene’s multi-award winning play Moth touches on one of the most vexing social issues faced by young people today: What happens when social media networks turn foul, when friendship is not the premise and abuse is? Working closely alongside students from Buckley Park College in Essendon for the script development process Greene and his young protégés have developed a deft theatrical collaboration.

“The play's director, Chris Kohn, approached me with a couple of pieces of stimulus for Moth: the image of a flood-lit cricket pitch at night, and the idea of a teenager having an ecstatic religious vision,” explains Greene of the writing journey instigated between Arena and Malthouse theatres. “This kicked up a lot of ideas which were teased out into narrative strands. “

“The whole thing evolved in a very organic way, with lots of input from our many collaborators: the actors, designers and work experience students. This very democratic way of working meant that what we've ended up with, I think, is a really fascinating network of ideas, incorporating Anime and Wiccan subculture, apocalyptic religious imagery, martyrdom, and the often brutal enforcement of social hierarchy in high schools." 

“What's really interesting about the way this play was developed was that it wasn't a terribly long development process, at least, not by theatre standards. In Australian theatre there's such an emphasis on letting work gestate over months and months and years, endlessly redrafting, which can be beneficial to an extent. But I think there's also something really exciting in following the initial spark of inspiration through to fruition in a condensed way, it results in a much more dangerous, more exciting development process, keeps everyone on their toes.”

“ The moth concept? I guess that was something that emerged quite directly from Chris' initial provocations, that idea of floodlights at night on a cricket-pitch, moths slamming against the light. There's that maybe-true, maybe-urban-legend bit of knowledge about moths being guided by the moon, but their flight patterns are disturbed by artificial light, which causes them to destroy themselves involuntarily. That self-destructive impulse seems to be pretty relevant when writing about young people."

Self-destructive behaviour is often tied into school bullying, why so? Greene sees it this way.

“ I hate the term 'Bullying'. I think it's become jingoistic, totally meaningless through overuse. It evokes bad after-school specials, educational videos about kids getting pushed, kicked or called drongo. Bullying is the gradual erasure of someone's identity, through constant humiliation and degradation over an extended amount of time. It's horrifying, and destroys lives, and it's something a lot of people never properly get over."

Greene is quick to qualify his bullying statement, revealing that while bullying can destroy one’s social image and self-image too, bullying can also be a two-way practice.

“True, I've been bullied a bit in my life. I was a pretty flaming homo from a young age, and I grew up in the country, so you can imagine. But that said - I've also been a 'bully'. I was very, very horrible to a couple of kids at high school, really treated them terribly, just because I could, because I was bored and angry at being hurt so many times myself. That's one of my biggest regrets. Ugh. “

Photo: MOTH. Malthouse Theatre. Pictured Actor Thomas Conroy as Sebastian. Photographer Jeff Busby.

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