Rohana is on the balcony drinking tea and sunning herself while going through her lines. I’m on one of the two beds writing this. We have 7 hours till the next show and this is Corowa. Could this be a real life?
The crowds turning up. The curtain on the old stage closed. The women from Sureway, an organization aimed at finding town’s people work, making tea and coffee. There are plates of biscuits. There are books on mental health for sale. And everyone is ill at ease. The locals because they know the play is about suicide and whilst they don’t know what to expect, they are expecting it to be heavy, bleak. How could it be anything else? Jaimes, the promoter, with Marooned printed onto his T-shirt is greeting them and hoping that it all goes well, that my actors who refused to use head mic’s, will be heard.
And then we are off. And once again the play and the actors work as one to draw the audience in. It’s more than a plot it’s a journey. There is complete silence in the most powerful, most poignant scenes. And lots of laughter and the laughter is with the actors for the audience has grown to like them.
Then afterwards we are in the pub. Upstairs the young at a birthday party are singing the songs from my youth, down here people who came to see the play are shaking the actors’ hands and talking about the piece.
So you’re the writer, she asks? She’s a little drunk but the party I saw happening when she was dancing near the bar didn’t invite her eyes. She tells me how great it is to hear the stories of real people on stage. I’ve thought of it, she goes. I’ve been there. I’m sleeping on my friend’s couch. I’m homeless. I’ve raised five kids. Four of my own and one step child. They’re all grown now. But I’ve got nothing. Nothing at all. I even cashed in what little super I had. I had to. I have no future. Nothing.
Sometimes I’m tearing down the Hume and I’m looking at trees and screaming at the wheel. But I don’t do it. And there’s no party in her at all anymore. And her eyes are drilling mine as though I was on the other side of the wheel. As though I can see her.
We hardly ever talk about male, I say, but we never talk about female suicide.
She nods. A few times.
That was a good play she goes. It was better than good. I’m working here tomorrow, and I’m going to tell them all; “You gotta go see that play. It’s brilliant.”
And her party is still gone, it sounds like the young ones might have taken it as above us all I can hear them singing the songs we used to sing.