Meet Vanessa

Vanessa will be co-writing All Our Eggs,  adapting her memoir Legs Up And Laughing for the series.

An award-winning playwright, Vanessa’s plays include Every Second (also based on Legs), The Magic Hour, Porn.Cake and Checklist for An Armed Robber. Her work has been produced by Deckchair Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Belvoir B-Sharp, Black Swan Theatre, Tantrum Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company, as well as on ABC Radio National. She is a graduate of NIDA Playwrights’ Studio and is one seventh of playwrights’ company 7-ON. For television she has written for the acclaimed SBS drama East West 101 and Rush. She wrote and developed various comedy projects with Beyond TV and she wrote the AWGIE nominated script for ABC TV documentary 900 Neighbours, and regularly writes for ABC’s Play School.

Book cover

What brought you into writing?

I always enjoyed writing short stories at high school but at university I joined the uni revue as an actor. The shows were written mostly by boys. When I complained to the director about the crappy roles for girls, she said: If you want better roles go and write them yourself. So, I did. I guess that was the start although it’s been a long time since I wrote a role for myself.

What lead you to blog about your experiences of trying for a baby?

Here’s the thing. Infertility sucks. And when it started happening to me it was so unbelievably sucky I felt that the only thing I could do was write about it. Because I was not going to go through all this utter shite and have nothing to show for it at the end. After my first few posts I knew I had something snarky and funny and horribly sad and if nothing else about me worked, I could have this.

The blog pieces were then compiled and reshaped into the book Legs Up and Laughing (more, here).  It’s actually very funny, although it’s subject is obviously a very emotional one. How did you strike  a balance?

I have no idea. But I was angry a lot of the time and anger pushes you through much of the sadness. And then you laugh, hysterically.

Then book became a stage play. How does  the processing of adapting it for stage differ from writing for the web?

Writing the play was sort of fine and it’s had time to develop. It was workshopped and presented at Playwriting Australia’s National Play Festival in Melbourne in 2012, and then showcased in Washington DC by the National New Play Network in late 2013.

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Vanessa at the reading of Every Second at NNPN 2012 Showcase, Washington DC.

And Shannon Murphy, the director of its first full production in Australia (at the Darlinghurst Theatre in Sydney, June 2014),  was brilliant and some of the rehearsal became about dramaturging the script. All of the cast were lovely and kind. And I tried very hard to detach, to say this play (Every Second) was not my story.

But then one day a journalist rang me to interview me about the play and suddenly I was crying on the phone and shocked that it was 9 years later but all, this pain and sadness, was  just below the surface.

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Image from Every Second, 2014, Darlinghurst Theatre (Pic by Frank Farrugia)

What are you looking forward to most about the project and being part of Gender Matters?

By building more pathways for female writers, directors and crews, Gender Matters is going to lead to incredible stories within our society being heard and celebrated. The support  given to All Our Eggs has given us the time to get together and explore our writing and the material in a meaningful way, and bounce ideas off each other.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the story will filter and change by working in this new medium and with new collaborators in Martha, Dan and Ashley and our cast and crew.

I think it will be awesome.

Also I think there will be new gags.

Thank god for that.

And finally: how did you like your eggs? Scrambled? Poached? Or …?

Fertile.

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