I don’t think we should tell people that.’ The interviewee looks up at the writer, uncertain. ‘What do you think?’ ‘I think it’s up to you,’ says the writer. ‘How much do you want the public to know?’ It was a question often asked during the candid interviews that formed the first step in the creation of Beachside Stories, a rare production that will see five City of Port Phillip personalities take to the stage with their Private Selves to tell their stories.
To be presented at Gasworks Arts Park from 13th – 22nd June as part of its Moving Parts season, Beachside Stories is intricate and its participants brave. A collection of duologues created by writers from Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, Beachside Stories uses humour, energy and the truth to explore the private thoughts of five very different human beings before leaning in a little closer to coax, ‘Now tell us something nobody would know about you.’ All of these local stars have a public presence – Dick Gross, Mayor; Rev. Coralie Ling, Uniting Church; Peter Logan, Save Albert Park; Tony Manago, South Melbourne Market’s ‘Singing Butcher’; and 15-y-o wunderkind Melisand Box from Albert Park College – but each admits to secrets, fears, regrets and ambitions that until now have been reserved from public knowledge, and in some instances kept from themselves. In June, they will take a breath, step into The Studio Theatre, and give audiences an entertaining insight into their Private Selves.
The Private Selves will be performed by actors from Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, under the direction of Elizabeth Walley. Walley is adept in the presentation of local stories, having directed St Kilda Stories (National Theatre, 2017) and Stark. Dark. Albert Park (Gasworks, 2018), but she describes Beachside Stories as something special. ‘Bringing this show together has been a terrific experience, and a humbling one. Trust has proven to be a significant element in the process of creating Beachside Stories. The writers trusted the participants to divulge their stories. The participants, in turn, trusted the writers to represent them accurately in the scripts they wrote. The participants now have to place their trust in the actors who will play them on stage. I have seen powerful bonds form between the participants, writers and actors, and I think it’s because this show belongs to all of them and they can feel this.’
Ultimately, Beachside Stories belongs to the audiences of Port Phillip – and to anyone else who likes a good show.
June 13 – 22