Kylie Trounson studied playwriting with Bernard Kops in London, at The New Play Institute in San Francisco and the Queensland University of Technology. Some of her past plays include The Hyacinth Project (La Mama) and the Melbourne Fringe Festival award-winning shows Uninvited Guests and Hotel, The Man with the September Face and Love Letters. Her play The Lost Story of the Magdalene Asylum was performed by Peepshow Inc and nominated for a Green Room Award for best site-specific work in 2010. Kylie was writer-in-residence for Red Stitch Actors Theatre in 2010-2011, where she wrote Merman, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Patrick White Playwright’s Award.
What is _ The Waiting Room_ about?
The Waiting Room is primarily about legacy – what we strive to leave behind in the face of mortality, be it our own biological line, a scientific breakthrough, a piece of art, or an understanding of God. The play examines this idea using the metaphor of IVF – the pioneering of the science in Melbourne in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the consequent ethical and religious controversy; the experience of going through IVF in both the early days of the science and today; and my experience growing up as the daughter of one of the scientific pioneers.
When did you start writing plays?
I wrote my first play in 2003. It wasn’t particularly good but I loved the process of writing and the collaborative experience of bringing the play to life.
What inspires you to write? What inspired you to write this play?
Although I find it hard work, the creative act of bringing a piece of writing into existence is incredibly rewarding. That is inspiration enough to keep on doing it. This play came about when director Naomi Edwards asked me if I was interested in writing a play about going through IVF. I told her that I didn’t think I could do justice to that, as I hadn’t had the experience of going through IVF myself. But, coincidentally, I did have the experience of being the daughter of one of the scientific pioneers of IVF, and I knew there were some amazing and fascinating stories involved in the history of the science. I also knew that a lot of people don’t realise that we pioneered the science in Australia, and I wanted to celebrate the scientists and patients who sacrificed a lot in the early days to make an enormous contribution to our understanding of biology and reproduction.
What can an audience expect from a semi-staged reading of this play?
It’s a big, fast play, with over forty characters and spanning several time periods. It basically runs from the Big Bang through to today. Given that, I think our focus will be on trying to show the audience how the play works together as a whole, rather than presenting carefully rehearsed scenes with props and actions. There are lots of different styles going on, such as farce, drama and meta-theatrics. So I hope the audience will laugh, cry and be prompted to think about their relationship to the ideas thrown up by the script.
Given that much of this play is very close to home (it contains scenes between you and your Dad, the famous IVF researcher), has that made it easier or harder to write?
Much, much harder!
Kylie Trounson’s The Waiting Room is one of five plays included in Cybec Electric. The play will be presented at Southbank Theatre on 20 and 22 February, directed by Naomi Edwards and starring Heidi Arena, Alison Bell, Travis Cotton, Andrew S. Gilbert and Belinda McClory.