When Chartbusting 80’s host Josie Parrelli turned playwright she had no idea The Big Apple would come-a-knockin’…twice!
After the world debut of Parrelli’s One-Act Play The Weekend at the Strawberry One-Act Play Festival in New York in February this year – where the play was a semi-finalist – Parrelli has had another of her works, The Flowers Don’t grow here Anymore, accepted into The Big Apple theatre festival scene with a scheduled performance date set in July.
Your most recent one act play, The Flowers Don’t Grow Here Anymore has been accepted into New York ‘s Riant Theatre’s One Act Play festival and will be performed at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan . Can you talk about how this very exciting journey has come about for you?
It is very exciting, I submitted my one-act play a couple of months ago for consideration to the Riant Theatre for the Summer Strawberry One-Act Play Festival and my play was accepted to be performed on stage in July.
This will be the second one act play you have had accepted into a New York festival. When you heard the news about your play’s acceptance, were the feelings of excitement better/different the second time around?
It was so amazing the first time and a total complete surprise the second time – I couldn’t believe it had happened again for me, but it was just as surreal as what is was the first time.
You will be travelling to New York in July. What sort of involvement will you have with the development of the play in the rehearsal room once you get there and have you had nay communication form the director to date?
I like to work in collaboration and am so looking forward to meeting and working with the team, I also am really excited to see how they interpret the work, that’s what I love about what we do – words on a page can mean different things and can be seen and interpreted differently from one person to the next – writing it with Australian referencing and seeing how it is adapted for the American audiences will be great to see.
What was the submission process? Please take us through this from A – Z.
The Strawberry One-Act Play Festival is on twice a year, their Winter Festival which is on earlier in the year and their Summer Festival which is in the middle of the year – when I wrote The Weekend I was looking for an avenue whether it was locally, nationally or worldwide to have an opportunity to showcase my work, I came across the Riant Theatre website and it just happened to be the time they were accepting scripts for their Winter Festival, I emailed the Artistic Director and asked if they considered international playwrights for their festival, they did and hence the submission process began and I sent through my script for consideration. I was notified a few weeks later that my play had been accepted to be on stage at the festival, same submission process was used for The Flowers Don’t Grow Here Anymore, I approached it with fresh eyes as if it was the first time I had submitted to the festival, it keeps you more grounded and focused.
Can you talk a little about the themes of your play, The Flowers Don’t grow here Anymore, and what were your main inspirations to write the play?
The Flowers Don’t Grow Here Anymore is the story of two couples that are reflecting on their friendships after the funeral of a close friend, everyone is a part of the reminiscing except for one of them who is angry and refuses to be a part of it. My main inspiration to write the story is I have always loved human stories, ones that people can relate to and understand, people relate to one another and you want to take people on a journey – the perspective of this story is, when confronted with the loss of a loved one, you question your own mortality, you look at things differently, with grief being an open window it’s interesting to see people’s reaction and coping mechanisms when they experience any loss and the reasoning for their feelings towards the person they have lost.
Most people may remember you as the host of the long running Channel 31 cult show Chartbusting 80’s. Can you talk a little about what those years meant for you and how they have influenced the creative and artistic choices you have available to you today.
I did Chartbusting 80s for seven years from 2000-2007 on Channel 31, I loved every second of it – I’ve never formally trained in the industry, my background was working as a hairdresser in Perth with dreams of working in the industry – when I moved to Melbourne I had an idea of doing an 80s music show and pitched it to a production house affiliated with Channel 31 – without Channel 31 I would have been another creative person with an idea and no arena to showcase my work – as all artists will know finding a base and platform gives you something to build upon, this is something we need to maintain and preserve. Chartbusting 80s opened so many doors and has given me opportunities I could of only ever dreamed of – it continues to inspire me to continue on the path I’m on, focusing and believing in what I do, putting my ideas forward, investing in my dreams no matter whether it is successful or not. At the end of the day, there are only three things people say: YES, NO or they remain silent – it’s just one person’s opinion. Being creative and open minded has connected me with so many wonderful creatives all over the world meeting and working with people in different places, genres and disciplines – you just keeping going for it no matter the outcome.
The show was huge winning for you a Best Contribution to Community Television Award at the 2008 Antenna Awards as well as an Aria gold disc for record sales of the first Chartbusting 80’s DVD released. You were, in effect, a pioneer of this style of show and held some influence over it’s overwhelming success when it went national in its 6th year. The show then became an independent production being produced by your production company, Lady Scorpio Productions. Did you see yourself as a pioneer while travelling through the show and did you have nay idea that the show would reach the cult following that it eventually did with an average audience of 100,000 per episode?
At the time I was so excited to share my love of 80s music with everyone that the idea of being a pioneer and that the show was going to be a massive cult hit was far from my thoughts – When the show first began, I filmed it at a friend’s place sitting on their couch, then when we moved to the studio, for the first four years I did the show to nobody, the crew would gather around the boom and clap into it so when I was editing the show it sounded like we had an enormous audience – in my mind whether there was an audience or not the level of performing was the same whether there was no one, two people or 300 in the studio – The highlights certainly did come along later, a journalist happened to stumble across the show one night and did a feature article in the Herald Sun, we started including bands and segments, artists such as Gene Simmons, Boney M, Joan Armatrading, Ross Wilson all agreed to appear on the show, people started tuning in and wanting to be a part of the audience, it came as a sweet surprise and very exciting when we started having booked out audiences and getting over 100,000 per night we where on, I remember getting phone calls from journalists at The Age & Herald Sun as the OzTam (TV ratings measure) came through to tell me that I had beaten ROVE and Big Brother in audience in Melbourne.
From 80’s diva to playwright – how did that transition come about for you and who would you list as your main inspirations?
Being from a Italian background storytelling is part of our makeup. Everyone in our family had a story to tell, you always look forward to my parent’s stories with the passion that comes with it, that’s what I love about storytelling, being able to engage an audience no matter your surroundings, genre, the ability to share, invite and involve people in to be a part of the story you’re telling is truly a beautiful thing.
And finally, what is next for Josie Parrelli?
I’m going to keep creating – being creative is a beautiful thing and universally it opens you up to a plethora of opportunities worldwide – there is no depth to the ocean you just keep going for it, never knowing what’s out there for you or how far you can go.