Excited creatives eagerly await the second incarnation of Babes and Beer, a play ‘for people who scroll, stream and eat crisps in bed,’ in St.Albans later this month. This encore show, at The Bowery Theatre, follows a sold-out season at The Meat Market last year, and has been made possible, in part, by the generous support of the City of Brimbank. A resident of Melbourne’s North West, playwright Serah Nathan, was the recipient of The Bowery Theatre’s Artist in Residency program which provided resources and financial aid towards the project as well.
Babes and Beer is inspired by the real life events that occurred whilst Nathan and two friends were holidaying in the Daintree Rainforest a few years ago. Nathan says she felt compelled to write it because the enigmatic energy of both the wild environment combined with the transient nature of international tourism meant no two nights were ever the same, and many interesting relationships could become stories.
A female-led comedy that questions the agency women have over their own fulfilment, and explores themes including social anxiety, expectation vs. reality, women and sexuality, and instant gratification. All clearly potent topics for Nathan, who describes her thematic landscape as significant because “they very much reflect part of the social climate of my generation.”
The best part about writing Babes and Beer, Nathan says, was how vividly she could imagine the characters as she was writing them – from the first draft! “In general what I like most about writing is how something as small as a passing thought can take form, sometimes organically, (but almost always with a lot of work) and become a cohesive story that might have an impact on somebody else,” she says. “Also, I always sucked at sport and need *one* specialty. A little known fact are all Writers are just disgruntled from being picked last in gym class.”
Beginning early drafts in 2015, Nathan tells how the pages gathered dust on her shelf (bedroom floor) until last year, when her Producer Marianne told her she wanted to stage it. The rest, as they say, is history!
As a playwright, Nathan loves underdogs with ambition and exploring the blurred lines between a protagonist and antagonist. “I find the mundane hilarious, probably because I grew up in the deep suburbs and only ever hung out in shopping centers and car parks until I moved out of my parents house,” she says.
The project requires Nathan the playwright to become Nathan the director – a possible conflict for some but Nathan was always conscious of not being precious or too close to the script when a agreeing to direct it. “There’d be nothing more intolerable than taking direction from a neurotic creative and becoming a parody of myself” she says. However, Nathan does admit to encountering some degree of strangeness during the first run last year as one of the leads is based on her. “I was working with an actor who was essentially observing my nuances when it’s usually the other way round!”
Nathan is also quick to point out the very clear advantages of being on site, so to speak, and what an actor’s instinct in the rehearsal room and beyond can offer in the way of script changes. “Some scenes have been rewritten based on my own observations during the first run at The Meat Market and also from taking audience feedback which was important to the plays growth.”
Babes and Beer follows three friends who take a holiday to the idyllic Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland where there’s seemingly nothing to do except sit around a bonfire on the beach, drink alcohol and make small talk with fellow tourists.
Says Nathan, “If you’re a silly goose who loves your mates, enjoys some classic bants and prefers themes about life served with a side dish of pop culture references, come watch the show on November 29! Plus the theatre is brand new and a sheer pleasure to sit in; your butts will not be in discomfort. That, I can guarantee.”
Babes and Beer
Friday 29 November 2019 at 8:00pm
The Bowery Theatre
St Albans Community Centre, Princess Street, St Albans
Tickets available at bowerystacc.com.au or 9249 4600