Triggered into thrilling motion by an act of revenge, The Bleeding Tree is rude, rhythmical and irreverently funny, and earned Melbourne playwright, Angus Cerini the 2014 Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting.
Imagine a murder ballad blown up for the stage, set against a deceptively deadly Aussie backdrop, with three fierce females fighting back. Set in rural Australia, a shot shatters the still night. A mother and her daughters have just welcomed home the man of the house – whom they despise – with a crack in the shins and a bullet in the neck. The only issue now is disposing of the body.
“The Bleeding Tree faces up to the Australian heritage of violence towards women and asks us to acknowledge our part in it,” says Lee Lewis, Griffin Artistic Director. “44 women have died violently this year, more than one a week.”
“Cerini is offering us a story where the women don’t die. I am grateful that he has given over his talent to voicing three strong, smart, brave and physically abused women. I wish the topic were not so timely – but it could have been set in any time and place, and been so. I say that not as a lament but with rage. I believe that in this play, you hear desperation for social change.”
Paula Arundell (Clark In Sarajevo, Mother Courage and Her Children) will blast her way into SBW Stables as the shot-gun wielding wife. Her two daughters will be played by Shari Sebbens (A Hoax and Return to Earth, Battle of Waterloo) and Airlie Dodds(Rake, Neighbours).
The design by Renée Mulder began concept as a women’s space, an interior environment and a place where appearances and upkeep seem vital. “Abstracted, the set is both the form of mother’s floral skirt yet also an unforgiving and dangerous terrain” says Mulder. “The costumes suggest the 1950s the characters clothes have been inspired by references of Country Women’s Association (CWA) ladies and sewing patterns of the period.”
Angus Cerini is a writer, performer and theatre-maker from Melbourne. His work has been presented by companies including the Sydney Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and Arena Theatre Company, and has been awarded prizes including the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. His self-produced work has toured locally and internationally.
“It has been enormously enjoyable writing The Bleeding Tree” says Angus Cerini. “To revel in the downfall of someone who preys on others and to envisage a community joining in on that destruction. Pull the thread and that aggressor is revealed for what he truly is: a weakling, a bully, excess baggage left unclaimed on the carousel of a better world, a worthless nothing swinging in the breeze.”
Director: Lee Lewis Featuring: Paula Arundell, Shari Sebbens, Airlie Dodds Designer: Renée Mulder Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson Composer: Steve Toulmin Stage Manager: Edwina Guinness
The Bleeding Tree
SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross
Season: 7 August – 5 September 2015 (Previews: 31 July – 4 August)
Bookings: (02) 9361 3817 or online at: www.griffintheatre.com.au
For more information, visit: www.griffintheatre.com.au for details.
Image: Paula Arundell – photo by Brett Boardman