Earlier this year, Two Peas presented their inaugural work, We’re Bastards. Soon they follow this up with Jennifer Forever, a new work by Tara Clark that explores some rather dark places in human behaviour.
Here I chat to Tara:
Me: Where did the idea for Jennifer Forever come from? Tell me a little about the writing process.
Tara: Where any of the ideas I have ever had really truly came from, I’m not sure. Boredom. A need to be doing something. A line of dialogue I have to give a context to. I think we’re so over saturated with creative stimuli sometimes that it’s almost impossible to distill what spawned a project. I need to create so I always have more projects on the go than I do fingers to count them on. When I started writing Jennifer Forever I was working in dry cleaning and I found myself with a few hours late in the evening between customers. I couldn’t close up and all the work was done, so I started to write. It’s a cliche, I know, but I wanted to write a role that I would want to perform. As an actor, roles for my type can be pretty uninspiring (and few!), and I sat down to write a character that I would eventually take on to perform. I knew she had to be a certain age and type, so I sat down and started with, “The room is empty, except for GIRL.” I’m not really sure how it unfolded from there, but after writing Scene 1, I am positive I didn’t have a plan for Scene 2. I worked on the play over 2 years and the story changed as I went. The most exciting part of the writing process for me was a round table read with about eight of my fellow actor friends. While they’re tremendously supportive, they’re also very honest, and getting their direct feedback was invaluable.
Me: What has the process of taking the play from page to stage been like?
Tara: Wonderfully terrifying! I always thought casting the female role would be easy and the male role difficult but it was the opposite, in fact. When we made the decision to produce the play (the call was made in March to put the show up in September) I decided I needed to hand the female role over to another actor. I felt as though I knew her so well that it would be awfully unfair of me to bring on a director and ask them to direct me in a role that I felt I knew better than the alphabet. I made the decision to direct and to cast the female role and the process of casting was not as easy as I had expected it would be! However, we were able to lock in two phenomenal actors (Dominic McDonald and Gemma Scoble) and I know that Gemma will perform the role better than I ever could.
Rehearsing with Dominic and Gemma has been a whole lot of fun. As talented as they are, they’re both just great people to be in the company of, and rehearsing with them has never felt like work.
Me: What do you think audiences will get from Jennifer Forever? What would you like them to think about or feel?
Tara: I often say that, the older I get, if there is one thing I can say that I know to be true, it’s that I truly don’t know anything. I want Jennifer Forever to pose questions to which there might very well be a number of correct answers, and I would like the experience to perhaps counter what each audience member believes to be true and allow them to consider the many shades of grey between black and white. I think many people will feel confronted, even disgusted, at some of the actions of the characters, but I’m interested to see if, amongst all of that, there is any room for pity and understanding. And maybe there isn’t. I don’t know.
Jennifer Forever by Tara Clark
17 -28 September
Old 505 Theatre