By Matthew Whittet
Director Rosemary Myers
- Venue Upstairs Theatre
- Dates 2 – 24 December 2016
- Duration Approx 1 hour, 15 minutes
Recommended for ages 14+
Greta Driscoll is on the cusp of her 15th birthday and grappling with first kisses, a new town and cliques at school. Then there’s her parents, who want to throw her a birthday party. How awkward.
In recent years we’ve come to know and love Matthew Whittet’s distinctive voice (Seventeen, Cinderella, Old Man). Now, from its season at the Adelaide Festival and the film version’s triumphant tour of the world, we present his hit collaboration with Windmill’s Director Rosemary Myers – a play about being lost in the jungle of teenagerdom and coming out the other side. Brace yourself for an explosion of hormones, imagination run wild, and the kind of 1970s design that would make Wes Anderson squeal with delight.
Part fable and part lipstick-smeared vigilante escapade, this is a girl’s own adventure. Heroism and gender implode in a gaudy and gawky rite-of-passage story like you’ve never seen. Or have chosen to forget.
Don’t think you’re too old for this happy mayhem. Fifteen never dies.
Special Family Performance Times!
Warning: This production contains strobe lighting, sexual themes and mild coarse language.
A Windmill Theatre production
The Belvoir Bumper Bar
To celebrate Girl Asleep, Belvoir are transforming their Downstairs Theatre into a 1970s-themed pinball arcade, complete with retro pinball machines, arcade games, beanbags and an original Nintendo console. For $10 you get unlimited play, with the proceeds going to Belvoir’s Arts Access Program, which gives free theatre tickets to students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Hours Tue to Fri 5.30pm–10.30pm, Sat 1.30pm–10.30pm, Sun 3pm–8pm
Please note on Christmas Eve the Bumper Bar will be open from 1.30pm to 4pm.
More information about the Belvoir Bumper Bar can be found here.
By Matthew Whittet
Director Rosemary Myers
Set & Costume Designer Jonathon Oxlade
Lighting Designer Richard Vabre
Original Soundtrack Luke Smiles – motion laboratories
Additional Original Music Harry Covill
Movement Gabrielle Nankivell
Movement Re-rehearsal Carlee Mellow
Stage Manager Isabella Kerdijk
Assistant Stage Manager Alex Hayley
- Writer’s Note – Matthew Whittet
Girl Asleep is about closing the doors of childhood and opening up the strange and incongruous doors of adolescence. Of the vast changes that occur inside the minds, hearts and bodies of kids at this crazy time of life. Of how truly difficult it is to be a teenager. Of how enormous things are. Of how emotional things can be, and how exhilarating the ride can be. The peaks are high, and the troughs are not. They’re the times I look back on as an adult, and know that the seeds of who I am now were planted at those exact moments. That only now can I see how important certain moments were when I was 14 or 15. That some of the battles I fought then were the ones that define so much of who I am now.
Girl Asleep started with a handful of elements. We knew that we wanted it to be a young girl’s journey. That she’d be a hero, and do incredibly brave things. We knew that we wanted to set it in the 1970’s. We knew we wanted to look at the ideas behind the tale of Sleeping Beauty, and at this strange time in some young kids’ lives where they seem to retreat. Like sleepwalkers. Eyes lowered, voices at almost a whisper, looking for all the world to not even be there. But beneath this somnolence and quiet, a storm rages. One that often threatens to swallow them whole. One that involves impossible challenges and fierce battles. Battles that they must face whether they like it or not. Otherwise they might remain asleep forever. Trapped in the challenges they never managed to overcome. And for Greta, our chronically shy hero, all this happens. And more. On the night of her 15th birthday, a party happens that she never even wanted. A party where everyone is invited. Even her worst fears and nightmares.
The journey of this story has been a long and incredible one. It started as the third play in a trilogy of teenage stories, along with Fugitive and School Dance – which were all performed in repertory at the 2014 Adelaide Festival of Arts. Then it transformed its way into becoming a screenplay, which was made by the same team – along with some excellent new additions, and has gone on to find a whole new life and audience. Greta’s story has had a life and an energy all of its own. For which I’m eternally grateful.
All these works – Fugitive, School Dance and both permutations of Girl Asleep – have been made with an immense amount of joy, silliness, craft and heart. They are all about friendship in one way or another, and they have all sprung from a friendship amongst the most excellent bunch of theatre brains. Generous, excitable and infinitely imaginative people, who all know the value of a good fart joke. Seriously.
- Director’s Note – Rose Myers
Girl Asleep premiered in 2014 as the third part in a trilogy, which saw Windmill Theatre Co collaborate and develop a theatrical language over several years with a group of artists who shared similar aesthetics and passions.
Each trilogy production is self-contained but at the heart of the works are rites-of-passage stories focused on the teenage years; this high stakes, often painful time of life that is also full of possibility as you begin to carve out your own place in the world.
In Girl Asleep, our protagonist, Greta Driscoll is clinging to her childhood. She is shy and plays it under the radar in a new school in the 1970’s, a significant era for feminism in Australia. Girl Asleep focuses on the latent (as Freud would say, feminine) aspect of adolescence. All that time you spend in your own mind escaping, contemplating, and dreaming. Greta starts as a passive protagonist and the play is the story of her activation. Writer Matthew Whittet brings this terrain to life with his poignant telling of the outsider story, of friendship and family, and his hilarious and deeply affecting characters that are embodied by our excellent actors.
With the talents of our creative team members Jonathon, Luke and Richard, we have sought to make these worlds vibrant and alive through the use of recapitulated popular culture, and the combination of old school theatrics and contemporary production techniques.
The amazing experience of making this theatre show did not stop with the trilogy when, through the HIVE fund (an Adelaide Film Festival initiative), we were able to transfer our theatrical language to the big screen and create a feature film based on our play. Creating the film was another chapter of this ride and an opportunity to explore this story in a brand new medium.
Now that we are revisiting the play here at Belvoir we have had the opportunity to refine this work again, based on all we have learnt about the story. Living with Girl Asleep over the past four years through the play and film, there have been so many different drafts that the spell checks of both Matt and I have defaulted to correct the word ‘great’ to ‘Greta’.
A large and diverse worldwide audience has now enjoyed our Girl Asleep story, many tapping into their inner teenager. For us, the experience of returning to perform the show to a live audience, with lots of teenagers in the room, is truly adrenaline-charged. This is its true home. Windmill is so thrilled to be part of the Belvoir 2016 season and we hope you have a ‘Greta’ experience of the show.
- Set & Costume Designer’s Note – Jonathon Oxlade
What an excellent adventure this story is. Goblins, queens, animated toy horses, famous French crooners, all carefully smooshed together in a surreal 1970’s marble cake of a show. It’s a fantastic journey from the everyday into the deep subconscious.
In staging Girl Asleep, we wanted to create a space that was both domestic and familiar, which transforms into something surreal and foreign. And we thought it would be even more interesting if the two could morph into one another, that our set could fall into a dangerous dreamscape, just like Greta does. We liked the idea that the domestic space could feel a little bit like a sitcom living room set, the main ‘hive’ where the family play out their daily scenarios before the extraordinary takes over.
Originally the liminal world, or the middle bit of the play, was set in a forest. We decided early on that the best way to represent this altered space on stage was to transform the living room into a ‘netherworld’,rather than travelling to an actual forest. By morphing the familiar space in front of the audience’s eyes, we get more of a sense of entering Greta’s dream world.
As an era, the 1970’s is close to everyone’s heart, and in Girl Asleep we really get to fly with some of our favourite iconic symbols from the period. There was lots of fun to be had referencing some excellent fashion moments; where dads wore short shorts and mums wore pantsuits. We looked to David Bowie for colour inspiration, The Brady Bunch for classic silhouettes and Carrie for high school mean girls.
Hopefully you have as much fun as we did exploring this fantastic world.