In our fourth and final piece discussing the participants of Melbourne’s Poppy Seed Festival for 2016, writer Morgan Rose talks to us about F., a show about how modern teenagers interact with sex when information is only a click away.
What is the premise of your show?
Our show is about the way teenagers learn about sex in the age of the internet. We started with the source text Spring Awakening (1891, Frank Wedekind). We have kept many of the themes running through the original play, and examined them through a contemporary lens. F. looks at issues of consent, suicide, diverse sexualities, and the control of information, all of which are addressed in some way in Spring Awakening. However, we also look at things like viral videos, vloggers, internet trolls, and sexting – which didn’t make it in to Wedekind’s play, for obvious reasons.
Why did the concept of your show appeal to you?
I have always had a thing for Spring Awakening. But working with young people, what became apparent was that it was no longer relevant. Spring Awakening is all about kids NOT knowing anything about sex. That is not a contemporary problem. The internet ensures all young people know whatever they want to know the instant they want to know it. I’m 34 years old, and being told by a group of teenagers what it’s like to grow up in 2016, was baffling. It’s so profoundly different than when I was 16 in 1998. I have learned…so….much. For instance, did you know that most teenagers have a folder full of memes, like THOUSANDS of memes, saved to their phone in case they need them at a moment’s notice? I tried to do it myself. I downloaded a meme about soup…
Why does the festival format work for your show?
Our show is all about starting a conversation between young people and adults. It’s about open, honest, awkward talking (side note: we have found that the more you talk, the less awkward it gets). So being part of a larger conversation – i.e. a festival – is perfect for us. It’s been wonderful to be programmed alongside shows with adult performers. Our young performers will get a chance to see all those show, which is great, and then those performers will get a chance to see the ridiculous talent among our young cast. It’s a lovely exchange across several generations of artists.
What has surprised you in the process of creating or rehearsing your show?
Oh lord, everything. This show has been one of the most informative, surprising, scary, draining processes I have ever been a part of. I love it so much. It’s killing me, but I love it. Do you know what a screwnicorn is? I learned that the other day. That was surprising.
What is the benefit in people from different works sharing resources and problem solving together, as those participating in the Poppy Seed Festival do?
It takes an entire mob of people to make a live performance event. It’s the most ridiculously difficult, expensive, exhausting thing you can do. So the more people you have around you willing to help the better. Whether it be answering an 11pm Facebook post asking if anyone knows where you can find a pink horse mask or helping you carry a sofa up two flights of stairs, people who care about your crazy idea of a play are rare and invaluable.
With Poppy Seed we have a giant band of artists who are all invested in the success of each other’s work.
Why are you excited for audiences to see your show?
I am mostly excited for audiences to see these teenagers blow this show out of the water. This is also the most spectacle-driven show Riot Stage has ever done, so I am excited to see all the technical elements come together. We have an amazing tech and design team, and I can’t wait to put all the pieces together.
How have you been supported by Poppy Seed Theatre Festival?
In way too many ways to list in an interview. They have given us a platform, they have given us money, they have given us advice, they have given us space and time and they have allowed us to make the art we want to make. With the indie theatre festivals in Melbourne disappearing into the night never to be heard from again (goodbye NEON? Helium? Where are you???) Poppy Seed is more necessary than ever. Artists need structured production opportunities in order to find the creative time and space to take their work to the next level. Without festivals like Poppyseed we are left with a gaping hole between fringe and the main stages.
What would you say to artists who would like to apply to be a part of future Poppy Seed Festivals?
F. will close the 2016 Poppy Seed Theatre Festival on 11 December. Tickets can be booked at this link.