Divine Secrets of the Sisterhood.
The Dream Life of Butterflies is described as a beautiful dissertation on the illusion of memory and the impossibility of retrieving what has been lost. There are two middle aged women talking in a room. Suggestive to the poetry of the piece are these three lines: One is recently returned. One has always been there. Between them sits the past.
Playwright, Raimondo Cortese, is certainly no stranger to Australian theatre goers. His plays include: Features of Blown Youth, Roulette, St Kilda Tales , Holiday and Lucrezia and Cesare. He has also written for film, television and radio. In this play he has created a seamless single scene in which he exposes these women’s delusions about themselves and each other, hinting at the terrible taboo at the heart of their relationship.
Cortese’s work has been lauded as having that all important ingredient – truth. He is possibly motivated to write this way because of his firm belief that "…in theatre there’s nowhere to hide." His ability to reproduce the cadence of real conversation is pivotal to this play. It is an intimate study of intricate characters as they travel through their slowly emerging pasts.
Cortese is a graduate of the VCA and a founding member of Ranters Theatre. Ranters could be described as experimental with a tangible need to challenge and excite the conventional. Cortese’s writing is, in fact, a lot like that so it comes as no surprise that Cortese and other like minded VCA graduates got together to form Ranters. A sentiment Cortese acknowledges when asked what he would do differently if he had to start work all over again as a playwright: " I would try and flog my scripts to big theatre companies; I would form an ensemble and self-produce— but that’s what I did this time."
This idea of truthful human connection wherein moments of relaxation and quiet reflection can lead unwittingly to a deeper study of the human spirit where people really connect is tantamount to Cortese’s writing.
"I write plays because I enjoy telling stories via spoken language." he says. "I hate theatre when it becomes stuffy and pretentious."
He prods and probes and reveals, through conversation, the private fantasies and hidden anxieties of his characters. He continues to ask questions like: What lies behind the most unconscious gesture? How do power struggles play out in the politest of exchanges? Is there hope in the blank spaces between strangers? But in keeping with his need to challenge the conventions and naturalistic theatrical conventions, his plays often contain elements of surrealism and absurdism to enhance the visual and auditory experience.
Cortese continues to offer innovative pieces of work that traverse unexplored theatrical territory and aim to capture a piece of reality in a stripped-back world.
The Dream Life of Butterflies
Venue: The MTC Theatre, Lawler Studio Season dates: 2 March to 2 April, 2011
Tickets: From $25 Booking details: The MTC Box Office 03 8688 0800 or mtc.com.au