“I believe this new play could be one of the greatest tools in the fight to prevent suicide,” says Jaimes Walch as he sits on a plastic chair in his backyard in Corowa as behind him, on his clothes hoist the banner he printed to promote the play is pegged.
Jaimes is bringing Marooned to Corowa. So is Jaimes a theatre producer? No. He builds and repairs boats.
So why would a boat builder want to bring a new, suicide prevention play to his town?
Jaimes has been through a messy divorce that saw him lose not only his business but his confidence. Bankrupt and weary he ended up homeless for a period where he seriously tried to check himself out. But he survived and endured. Now, still standing, he is a counselor for other men struggling through the same difficult journey.
When he heard of the play Marooned he asked Michael if he could read it and once he had he believed it was what many in his town needed to see.
Graciously the Corowa council gave him the hall for free and Rotary and the local RSL also got involved. But how do you sell tickets to a play about suicide?
Now though he has managed the extraordinary coup of acquiring a grant that will make the two stagings of Marooned in Corowa a free event.
Michael wrote the play after losing a friend. His goal was to write a play that in moments of isolated darkness encouraged people, especially men, to chose life.
While it is difficult to prove that this has been achieved what he has achieved is to write a play that opens people, especially men up and leaves them wanting to talk, and the subject, suicide and the issues that lead people to it.
Starting and nurturing that conversation is why Jaimes is bringing the play to Corowa.
"People say Men don’t talk," says Jaimes. "They do, we just have to listen."
In the last run Michael had a call from a father who’d come to see the play and who wanted to know when it was on again because he wanted to bring his sons. For months now, Michael and his Producer Rohana Hayes have been fielding calls from people all over Australia who have read or seen the play and are wanting to bring it to their town.
But Jaimes Walch is the first.
Marooned is easy to tour. It has no special needs. The set can be constructed from seats or benches found in the town. The play can grace a professional stage or it can be put on in a hall or even outside. The lighting is simple. The audio is simple.
And it has been written that way to make it economical to stage, to rely instead on the talent of its actors and the power of its story.
Remarkably, even though the play takes a ‘no holes approach’ to confronting the subject people find the play thoroughly engaging and entertaining, remarkably funny and despite its refusal to shy away from the utter tragedy, ultimately uplifting.
And the plays premise is simple. It is set in a waiting room in the afterlife populated with the souls of four Australian’s. Strangers who have all tried but failed to take their own lives. But despite believing that they are still alive they are all Marooned in this odd room. Finally one of them believes that their only way back is for all of them to open up as to why they are here. Is to [mg1] talk. But since a few of the characters, like many Australians, prefer silence the battle for the truth commences. And this battle becomes a combined journey into each other as they all search for the dawn. A journey so engaging that they take the audience with them and leaves them with hope.
The writer credits his mother’s attitude towards splinters for the theme of the play. When he was young if he got a splinter she’d hold him down and go digging with a needle. In her words, it was the only way to get it out.
In our current risk averse society, where we prefer bandaids, even though we all suspect they don’t work, this play is a needle.
Corowa Memorial Town Hall
Oct 11 - 12 th 7.30 pm
Call Jaimes Walch 0438297881