An immersive composition for theatre crafted by Elizabeth Walley in response to her eyewitness experience of a domestic-violence homicide on her street, The Trauma Project will be presented at fortyfivedownstairs from 17 March 2021.
“In the aftermath of ‘the shooting’ there were lots of words – the witness statement, court testimony, oral story – but none of these words spoke of the debilitating impact of this trauma for me,” says Walley – whose recent directing credits include The World Without Birds by Christine Croyden (La Mama Courthouse, 2016) and Beachside Stories (Gasworks Theatre, 2019).
“As a theatre practitioner, I needed to write creatively about the event to make sense of it all. Beyond exploring this personal experience of trauma, theatre offered me a platform to interrogate patriarchal violence and to add my voice to the collective outcry from women globally.”
As Walley began to write, past memories filled the page. “I was overwhelmed by memories of past assaults by men that I had failed to report or even articulate to others,” she said.
The Trauma Project is an embodiment of these traumas and a collective re-presentation of the assaults upon my body and myself over my life to date. In the era of #metoo, it is an activist revolt against a patriarchal system of violence against women.”
Featuring four performers – Walley, Ian Ferrington, Isabella Gilbert and Lauren Steiner, with production design by Dagmara Gieysztor, choreography by Isabella Gilbert, sound design by Samuel Kreusler and Rachel Lewindon, and associate direction by Alec Gilbert, The Trauma Project takes audiences into the chaotic unsettlement that an experience of trauma invokes.
“My hope for audiences is that they engage empathetically with the story and that it resonates beyond the performance as a provocation for political action and cultural change,” says Walley.
Having postponed the production twice, the extraordinary challenges of the past year have strongly affirmed the power of shared physical space for Walley.
“The months of social distancing without physical connection have strengthened my commitment to the unique dialogical exchange between actors and audience in live theatre, and the power of this visceral relationship to facilitate social change,” said Walley.
Writer/Director: Elizabeth Walley Performers: Ian Ferrington, Isabella Gilbert, Lauren Steiner, Elizabeth Walley Associate Director: Alec Gilbert Visual Dramaturgy/Production Design: Dagmara Gieysztor Choreography: Isabella Gilbert Sound Design: Samuel Kreusler, Rachel Lewindon Stage Manager: Erin Handford Assistant Stage Manager: Cosima Gilbert
The Trauma Project
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: 18 – 28 March 2021 (preview: 17 March)
Information and Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com
Image: The Trauma Project – illustration by Dagmara Gieysztor