When a car mechanic presented writer Michael Andrew Collins with a rough estimate of $6000 to make his car roadworthy, it gave him the inspiration for a storyline that ultimately formed one of the threads in his new play, Blame Traffic. Based on this and other everyday driving related experiences, Collins has created a montage of fragmented scenes that make up five independent stories which ultimately converge into one overarching narrative. Also directing the play, Collins has allowed aspects of it to be informed by the actors during rehearsals.
“[The actors are] from all other parts of the world, and they’re all getting a chance to bring their own context to it, which is actually kind of fun…there are a few languages that are spoken on stage now,” explains Collins. It’s a demographically diverse cast, adding more range and texture to the various storylines. In terms of production, there will be no simulated driving or kitschy effects. Collins prefers a minimalist approach, where tone is suggested using things such as audio visual cues.
“I quite like that as a design because what it hopefully does is it puts you in an imaginative space,” he says.
Violette Ayad plays one of the key characters: she initiates the narrative with a monologue about being cut off by the same driver every day as she drives home from work.
“In a lot of ways she sort of instigates this chain reaction through what is a little bit of an odd response but quite an innocent one,”says Ayad, explaining that her character decides to follow the offending driver home one day. Without giving away spoilers, the character returns for a “revelatory moment at the end.”
Ayad believes the play will appeal to anyone who drives, especially in Sydney.
“Sydney roads are…I think they’re a shared experience among everyone that lives in Sydney because, whether we recognise it or not, they’re pretty uniquely bizarre.”
Nov 13-24. Old 505 Theatre, Eliza St, Newtown. $30-$45+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.old505theatre.com
By Rita Bratovich.