Q&A with the crew of Women

By Ariana Rose

The play,  Women graces the stage on June 9th-11th at studio 411. Women is foremost a comedy and secondly a timeless classic mix between HBO’s Girls and Little Women. It follows the journey of four sisters in their quest of overcoming the affectionate moniker, Little Women bestowed upon them by their parents and becoming adults.

This play will keep you laughing for days thinking about the wonders of being a lime artist, dancing and the delights of motherhood. The play also explores the impossibility of dating and the struggle of pursuing a career as a woman in the 1800’s.

Please get your tickets soon and find a time that suits you! (Thursday, Friday or Saturday night)

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Director – Jessica Serio
Stage Manager – Rebecca Dilley
Assistant Stage Manager – Sean Wcislo
Costume Design – Anna Weir
Lighting Design – Kiah Van Vlijmen
Sound Design – Tijana Simich
Set Design – Thomas Dimmick

Director: Jessica Serio
Jessica Serio is in her fourth year of studying the Theatre & Drama major at Murdoch University. Jess was the production manager for Black Martini’s production of Boise, Idaho (2016) and the stage manager for Little Red: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf (2015, July 16th-18th) which was produced by Murdoch Theatre Company.

(The director chooses the initial script, has a vision for the overall production and has a role in the audition process and casting. As the director, Jess oversees the production of the play, endeavors to unify the various aspects of production and gives feedback to the actors after each rehearsal.)
What influenced your decision to choose ‘Women’ as the script for your production?

Jess: Black Martini aims to produce shows that are different. I had this in mind when I was looking for plays to put on this year. This one was actually found by the Artistic Director Tom Dimmick and it just jumped out to me. I think what I like most about it is the kind of dark, witty humour throughout the show.

How did you, as director, want to add to Chiara Atiks’ play, ‘Women’ and what was your artistic vision?
J: My main goal was to do it differently to how it has been done before. The great thing about these plays is there is so much room to play with blocking, characters, tech etc. There are parts of the blocking for example, which add to characters in ways I don’t think has been done before. The way I envisioned the show is pretty much exactly as it is turning out even in this early stage of rehearsals, which basically shows how talented the people at Murdoch are.

Was there a specific time in rehearsal/moment in the script that stands out for you the most?

J: One of the funniest moments in the script is where Beth dies the way we’ve done it in rehearsals plus the way its written and the fact we’re using it as part of our marketing makes it incredibly funny.

Can you please describe what you enjoyed the most/learned from directing Women?

J: The most enjoyment I’ve had so far is working with the cast and crew, most of whom I’ve worked with before. They enjoy rehearsals and make it fun, while also being able to be professional and work hard. I also love that we have some new faces in the cast, its great to bring new people in to work with. There have been many challenges I’ve encountered so far and there are still plenty to be had in the coming rehearsals but I learn from everything that happens so I’m looking forward to it.

Stage Manager: Rebecca Dilley
Rebecca is in her third year at Murdoch studying Theatre & Drama. Rebecca played Hansel in Murdoch Theatre Company’s production of Little Red: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf and performed as Belladonna in the 2015 Children’s Theatre unit production, Return of the Snow Queen (May 13th-15th school performances & May 16th Nexus Theatre.

Assistant Stage Manager: Sean Wcislo
Sean is now studying Theatre & Drama and is midway through his third year. Sean has gained experience as an actor, writer and recently as a stage manager. Sean is the assistant stage manager for Black Martini Theatre’s production of Women. Previously he has performed in Little Red: (MTC, 2015), leading as the wolf and he played Dialysis the lead character in Saving the Greeks: One Tragedy At a Time (Black Martini Theatre, November 19th-21st 2015). This year, Roommates Live From Apartment 19 (Top and Tail Theatre, February 18th-21st) was featured in the 2016 Fringe Festival. Sean did a brilliant job of writing the Roommates script, overseeing the set design also starred as one of the characters.

(The stage manager acts as a coordinator and organiser, with being responsible for a variety of tasks involved with organising the production, communicating between the director, production crew and the cast. The stage manager also maintains a prompt book, follows the script during each rehearsal and supports the actors by filling in for absentees or prompting an actor if a line is forgotten)
What did you find stood out in the progress of the play, from the first script reading and through the rehearsal process?

Rebecca: The talent here at Murdoch always amazes me. In such a relatively small rehearsal period, the actors have managed to create entire characters and backstories from an old story in fresh and invigorating ways. We have a great production team too, and everything seems to be running like a well-oiled machine. For now!

Sean: Minor additions from the actors. Actors are playing with their dialogue and actions to add a deeper layer of comedy to the show and it’s working wonderfully. Watching the same scene being performed countless times is still being made entertaining by the quality of the performances and the occasional surprise of an actor ‘trying something’ that really keep the show fresh for us and offer new things for all production members to work with.

How did the production of Women challenge and/or cause your capacity in your production role? (Stage manager, Assistant Stage Manager)
R: Women is actually a very special show for me as it is my first time in a production role. As stage manager, it is both an exciting and daunting experience to piece a show together, but working with the actors and Jess definitely make it a lot less stressful and way more fun! It is definitely a challenge having little understanding of what’s expected of me or what’s to come in intensives week and when the show goes up, but I hope I can rise to the occasion and do the wonderful cast and crew proud!

S: As Assistant Stage Manager I’m being more educated than challenged. My workload at this stage of the production is quite low – maybe I’ll be prompting the actors while the Stage Manager is paying attention to blocking and cues, or reading for an actor who can’t attend that day – but working close with the Stage Manager in any capacity is a great opportunity to learn about what goes into the role while still being helpful in some capacity.

Explain what you enjoyed most about the production of the play. (in a few sentences?)
R: It’s been really fun watching a play come together from ‘the other side of the fence,’ if you will. I’ve only ever acted in Murdoch productions, thus far, so I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the auditions, seeing the thought process that goes behind things like casting and set or lighting design. It feels much more inclusive.

S: Rehearsals are just so fun to attend. This is usually the case with comedies, but the light atmosphere and humour from the script allow for those present to enjoy themselves while performing and working, so just being present while everyone is having such a good time working on the show is hugely enjoyable.

Metior Magazine