Pip Smith, the creative force behind the curiously named Penguin Plays Rough, describes it as, “a monthly evening of short stories told from a red velvet armchair inside a warehouse in St Peters.” She continues: “The stories are usually a bit weird, with a broad imaginative reach,” and whether funny, experimental, or deadly serious, they uniformly represent, “a cross-section of what’s being written in Sydney right now.” At the very least, it’s an excellent excuse to drink wine and witness the myriad wonders of words and the wild writers who wield them (whew!). Smith tells us more…
The next instalment invites various writers to ‘re-imagine’ cities – what inspired this idea? There is a lot of interest, out in the Internet Brain, in building sustainable cities for the future. But I’m also interested in what the imagination can build, and what writing can make real. Fiction has the ability to show us what could happen, to give us the ability to see alternative ways forward. Jules Verne dreamt up the submarine and television long before they became a reality – who knows, maybe five short romps into the far reaches of Nick Sun, Luke Ryan, Sonja Dechian, Elena Gomez and Annaliese Constable’s imaginations will give our town planers some good ideas.
What has been the strangest thing to occur at a PPR, and what is one thing you’d like to see happen? We’ve had a pole dancer, and free chocolate for everyone, and someone in a veil play the saucepan lids. Louis Nowra brought a Chihuahua once, which had free reign of the audience. Those things were certainly strange.
In terms of what I’d like to see happen – I’d like to see someone do something or write something I can’t even imagine, but that makes me realise, after it’s happened, that it had to happen, that there was no way my life could have carried on without that thing having happened. Like Luke Carman’s story about Seinfeld, having colonising ancestors and dolphin porn. That had to happen, you know what I mean?
Tell us a little about the publication … Well, it is a mammoth beast that weighs over 500gms, and is therefore rather expensive to post.
But that is because it has 320 recycled pages featuring 23 writers and 17 illustrators squished between two hardback covers all wrapped up in a hand-screenprinted dustjacket which folds out to be an illustration of all the stories in the one imagined landscape.
It also comes with a free app for iPad or iPhone, which features all the writers reading their stories either live at our event, or studio recorded and accompanied by one of 13 different composers.
It’s very beautiful. It was a labour of love. It can be found at all good independent bookstores. And would make the perfect Christmas present (…) (head to penguinplaysrough.com/buy-our-book/ for stockiest information!)
What kind of feedback do you get from writers who take part? They generally say they’re amazed by the attentiveness of the audience. We have a really supportive regular crowd who respond in all the right ways in all the right places and never snigger behind their hands if the stories aren’t to their taste.
And … what’s up next for PPR? We are deep in our imaginary laboratories brewing up the next big project, which will make itself a reality sometime next year. It will be free, and big, and inventive, and worth it.
Dec 17, 8pm, 4 Lackey St, St Peters, entry by donation, penguinplaysrough.com