What possesses a human being to suddenly become a mass killer? And how do we make sense of what such a shocking event, the result of one person’s actions, does to us all?
Scottish playwright David Greig explores this issue in The Events, the play he wrote two years after a right wing extremist slaughtered 77 people in Norway in 2011.
In Greig’s play, a vicar, Claire, is conducting a community choir, when a young man arrives and starts killing people around her. The traumatised vicar later grapples to gain insight and understanding into how the man could have done something so heinous.
Grieg wrote the play, (which includes the healing power of music, thanks to the participation from community choirs on stage) in an effort to address the pain a community feels after a mass tragedy.
Since then, we’ve all lost count of how many mass shootings have taken place across the planet, mostly in the US.
And now, of course, by some quirk of fate, The Events, scheduled in the Black Swan calendar many months ago, is being performed in Perth just weeks after the shooting tragedy in Margaret River.
Acclaimed actor Catherine McClements, who plays Claire, the vicar, says she hopes WA audiences will find the theatrical experience healing.
‘In as much as theatre can be appropriate, it’s exactly the time it should be performed,’ she tells The Starfish.
Without setting out to answer all the questions, she says the play ‘explores how we deal with the people who do this to us. Greig keeps it very open, the ideas and thoughts and how we should approach it.’
Catherine, who has performed in The Events with Johnny Carr for two years, says having community choirs perform on stage with her adds great depth and poignance to each production.
‘Since I first began doing the play, the choirs have varied wildly!’ she reveals.
‘We opened in Sydney with this beautiful Arabic choir. Other times, we’ve had choirs that were really bad! One night, author Helen Garner was in the audience, when a choir was especially bad, but she came up afterwards and told me how impressed she was with the music! It helped make me realize, it doesn’t really matter, they all have a presence. It’s not really whether they’re good or bad that counts; they’re adding humanity to the occasion.’
Undoubtedly Perth audiences won’t have to worry about the calibre of the choirs. They include:
Churchlands Choral Society, Indie Mix Pop Choir, Rhythmos, St Barnabas Community Choir, The Mighty Camelot Chorale, and Voyces.
Choir members won’t have seen the play before they perform.
The WA premiere of this work, the sleeper hit of the 2013 Edinburgh Festival, has already performed to audiences in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, and runs at Studio Underground at the State Theatre until July 8.
Composer: John Browne, Director: Clare Watson, Set & Lighting Designer: Geoff Cobham, Musical Director: Luke Byrne, Lighting Design Associate: Chloe Ogilvie
The Events will then be touring to Geelong, Tamworth, Lismore, Wollongong.
GPAC, Geelong 11-14 Jul – https://www.gpac.org.au/event/970/the-events
Capitol Theatre Tamworth 17-18 Jul – http://www.entertainmentvenues.com.au/
Lismore City Hall 20-21 Jul – http://lismorecityhall.com.au/whats-on/the-events/
Merrigong Theatre, Wollongong 24-28 Jul – http://merrigong.com.au/search.html?advsearch=allwords&search=the+events