The Stairs are Moving is an exciting and innovative new play by award winning film maker Neil Triffett, an emerging and inspired new voice in Melbourne's Theatre and film scene. Before its performance, the play has already received acclaim having been chosen by dramaturg Jane Montgomery Griffiths to commemorate 30 years of the Melbourne Writers’ Theatre
The play, also directed by Triffett, tells the tale of a grown brother and sister who return home for their Aunt’s funeral only to find a woman who won’t be buried and stairs that are getting up and moving. Triffett explains that is a work that means a lot to him artistically as well as personally." I work most regularly in film and video and this is my first full length work in theatre, which brings different challenges and has different tools for solving problems," he explains. " I've also worked in a support capacity on many theatre projects, often shadowing directors and writers to learn tricks-of trade, and this is my first project in the front seat where I can put into practice what I've learnt from other people's successes and failures. On a more personal front, this play features the story of my mother's childhood, which was a fairly remarkable one to have survived, and I'm thrilled to be able to bring it to the stage."
Triffett chooses a very Epic Theatre style of approach to his work as the play utilizes direct audience address as well as the element of story telling at its simplest to ask big questions about why bad things happen to good people. "This piece is told almost purely through direct audience address, being semi – Brechtian in style. There's not necessarily a rule book for how to approach a text like this, so the actors and myself have worked hard to find ways for it to be accessible and entertaining for an audience," he explains. "The work is story telling at its purest and getting the balance between straight forward, honest story telling, and theatrical conventions and staging, was a difficult thing to get right. It's also a very different performance style for actors to approach, and, though there are some similarities, the regular way actors portray and experience their characters, had to be altered to fit this work."
Every playwright has their personal fount of inspiration and Triffett is no different citing that he is inspired enormously by the poetry of language. "Film, which I work in more often, is action based, there is very little space for dialogue and the spoken word, which I love," he says. " So when I write theatre I want it to do things that only words and theatre can do. I'm also heavily into black comedy, there are streaks of it all the way through The Stairs are Moving. I enjoy the way black comedy helps us laugh at our more desperate moments – I think that laughter can really redeem us."
As both the playwright and director Triffett has been forced to divide his attention unbiasedly between the two. Luckily for him, because of the nature of the work, he has been forced to have two very different hats on between directing and writing. "When I wrote the work I was pushing my luck a little – it was a piece that was almost resistant to direction – it used direct audience address and little action," he explains. "When I decided to take the project on and direct it myself, I was forced to confront the challenges I had set for a director, challenges that didn't have easy answers. As a result, I almost have had two different people working on the project."
The themes of this work explore reasons why bad things happen to good people. According to Triffett the play offers some genuinely thoughtful answers (though, of course, not totally conclusive). Triffett's hope is that audiences are entertained by the way the collective explore these themes, which, he says, is both funny and emotionally confronting. "It has a cast of really strong actors, experienced in both stage and screen. It's a style of theatre that isn't performed often in Melbourne, and it is delivered in an incredibly accessible way for audiences both familiar and not familiar with this kind of work."
"I also hope audiences will go home having been moved by a simple piece of theatre, having seen four strong actors perform in some of the most honest ways possible. It's a work that has a lot of honesty to it, there is very little in the way of pretension in the piece, and I hope audiences will appreciate that."
The Stairs are moving
Directed by: Neil Triffett
Performed by: Charlotte Nicdao, Maurice Mammoliti, Carolyn Masson, Sarah Plummer
Dates: 24th October – 3rd November
Time: 8pm Wednesday – Saturday, 2.30 pm matinee October 28th
Venue: Carlton Courthouse
Price: $15 Concession, $20 Full