Background to All This Living!
Written and performed by Camilla Blunden
CAMILLA BLUNDEN Age 72
All This Living! A contemporary, solo piece of theatre was created by me in Canberra through The Hive writing program at The Street Theatre and uses humour, mixed with home truths and leaps of imagination for “just an old woman” Jay to tell her story.
As I have aged my creative spirit for theatre hasn’t faded; it is part of my being and has to be used, I haven’t disappeared.
I have worked on many development processes and made work with writers, actors, dancers, musicians and across cultures. As an older woman chatting to various friends about aging, invisibility, death, sex, as women do about everything, there was a strong feeling that the way we are represented in the media and generally has not really caught up with who we are now. Our society does not talk about death, sex is supposedly only for the young and we perhaps should fade away. “Sh! Age is classified, a deep secret”. Each generation is different; we are real older women now and we know who we are. This inspired me to take this as a starting point and create a piece of theatre.
The opportunity then arose, through The Hive writing program at The Street Theatre for actors to write a solo show, I took it, so I could create a contemporary work about us. Many women between their 50’s and their eighties assisted in the creation of this work by taking part in focus groups. All This Living! is one piece, about ‘just an old woman’, there could be many more that can add to our understanding across generations in our culture.
Jay may be questioning the invisibility she feels and observes. It’s a sexual invisibility but it’s also the kind that has you overlooked when waiting to be served in a shop or passed over when you make a comment. It’s an invisibility that shows up in media representations. Where are the roles for older females as opposed to older male characters in film and stage? What are the stereotypes? In my research as well as conversations about the everyday I also looked at mythical women from many different cultures and they became part of Jay’s journey. Her perspective is from herself, she is a white Anglo, but other cultures are referenced in her journey as well.
I have been part of much locally made theatre and perhaps most notably in All This Living’s context with Women on a Shoestring, but this is the first time where I’ve been the sole writer. The insightful dramaturg, who worked with me, Peter Matheson, is critically analytical and powerfully supportive of a playwright’s right to their own voice. He provided the necessary outside view of the piece as it grew. The creative team then provided their skills into shaping the production for its first season at The Street Theatre, Canberra in May 2015.
All This Living! has been designed to be totally portable and to tour. To reach out to a variety of audiences across generations, from late high school onwards and to engage an audience at the end of the performance in a chat and Q&A, opening up some of the ideas it raises.