Exploring Australia’s fraught relationship with the cultural centres of London and Paris, MopHead Productions presents the world premiere of Melita Rowston’s Between the Streetlight and the Moon at the Kings Cross Theatre for a limited season from 9 May 2017.
Based in the worlds of art and academia, Between the Streetlight and the Moon unearths wider themes of creativity, love, failure and how artists’ thoughts make or break their practice. It also questions why most of us settle for the streetlight instead of aiming for the moon.
Zadie is writing a book that’s going to blow the international art world apart… or so she’s been telling everyone for nine years. She claims her book will prove once and for all that an illicit affair between Belle Epoque artists Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot actually occurred. There’s only one problem – she can’t find the letter that proves her theory; and she happens to be the only academic who believes this letter exists.
Obsessed with what she believes to be a ‘perfect’ love affair between two dead artists, one that she has largely been able to chart through a series of 11 intimate, fraught and exposing portraits, Zadie has buried herself in papers, archives, dossiers and letters to the point where her grip on reality is becoming uncertain.
Celebrated playwright Melita Rowston (Ljubicica: Wild Violet, Crushed) penned the first draft of Between the Streetlight and the Moon after spending a month in a Paris. During this time she became obsessed with a tiny painting in the Musee D’Orsay by Edouard Manet – who is known as the Father of Impressionism and his pivotal large paintings including Olympia and Dejeuner sur L’Herbe.
The object of Rowston’s obsession, however, was small and unlike Manet’s other pictures – brash, modern and intimate. Its sketchy brushstrokes depict a woman looking at the painter through the spokes of her fan, her gaze electrifying. The woman in the portrait is famous Impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot.
Manet painted 11 portraits of her, each one progressively charged, messier and more complex than the last. It is as if, according to Rowston, Manet was trying to understand Morisot’s complexity through the process of painting her. In Rowston’s mind there is no doubt that these pictures chart a turbulent artistic and romantic affair.
Between the Streetlight and the Moon was one of five finalists shortlisted from 131 entries for the Sydney Theatre Company Patrick White Playwright Award in 2016. It was also shortlisted for The Silver Gull Award in 2015. The feedback Rowston received from the STC panel read: “Members of the panel admired the play for its soulfulness, passion and intelligence. The ideas that you explore about the creation and interpretation of art are lively and provocative.”
One of Sydney’s best directors, Anthony Skuse (4000 Miles, Constellations, Punk Rock) has compiled a brilliant ensemble of actors including Joanna Downing (Othello, Hilt), Ben McIvor (War Horse, The God of Hell), Lucy Miller (Sweeney Todd, Scenes From An Execution), Suzanne Pereira (Julius Caesar, Platonov) and Lani Tupu (Farscape, Lantana).
Director: Anthony Skuse Featuring: Joanna Dowling, Ben McIvor, Lucy Miller, Suzanne Pereira, Lani Tupu Lighting Designer: Chris Page Set and Costume Designer: Jeremy Allen Sound Designer: Benjamin Freeman Vocal and Accent Coach: Linda Nicholls-Gidley Production Manager: Maria Spataro Stage Manager: Sunil Chandra
Between the Streetlight and the Moon
Kings Cross Theatre, 244 – 248 William Street, Potts Point
Season: 9 – 27 May 2017
Image: Between the Streetlight and the Moon – photo by Clare Hawley