Jodie Molloy on The Voice In My Head

Posted on May 23, 2016 by Basement

Our resident blogger Jonty Crane had a chat to writer Jodie Molloy on her new piece The Voice In My Head, opening this Tuesday.

What inspired the show?

I was doing a performance-writing module during my Masters degree and I ended up by chance coming across two lots of reading that involved the subject of ‘abortion’. The accounts were fictionalised perspectives of two real women, both coming from very different places. As a keen reader, I found this an anomaly, as I’d never really come across this experience told in such moving detail in contemporary work. Its inclusion is a rarity.

It got me thinking and looking at statistics and I came to realise that if 1 in 4 women in New Zealand have already or will have a termination in their life, than this isn’t something we examine or talk about comfortably. I don’t think we need to apologise in 2016 for talking about the lives of women now or before us who choose to not be pregnant. I decided this issue could provide a wonderful and needed theme to construct a sequence of monologues around, the story telling nature of monologue is in a way powerful and cathartic.

How much research was involved?

There’s an understandable assumption that the show is in some way political or looking at the ‘topic’ of abortion in this piece and it’s really the thematic arc that universalises the plot. This show is about women. Their lives set against the backdrop of different historical periods and what informed their incredibly personal experience of this procedure.

The research done was more in context of the era, what was happening across the board socially, politically, and what was the common female experience of that time. Suffice to say, writing the ‘future’ monologue has been the most challenging simply as we have no reference. But in the broadest sense, I read of women writers, poets, such as Mansfield, Plath and Sexton as well as a lot of non-fiction. The process has taken months of writing, editing and in total, Natalie and I have spent a year in progress.

What has been the most difficult part of the production?

The only difficulty comes in conquering the perception that this isn’t something ‘palatable’ that you would want to talk about or go and see at theatre. The conceit of the show, which is really about watching an astounding performer like Natalie morph into five different women over time, talking about intimate, personal experience is sometimes dwarfed by the trigger word ‘Abortion’.

Monologues by their nature are a unique, simplified form of theatre that often tackle the awkward, Alan Bennett of course is the master. If you like listening, or women, if you like love stories, like to be moved, made to cry, feel irritated or challenged, this is the kind of theatre for you.

Finally, there was talk of the show heading to Cambridge next; do you expect a different reception in the UK?

We’ve postponed the show at the ADC in Cambridge for the time being as we extended our Auckland season. But I don’t expect the reaction to be different. I think people, particularly in Britain who have similar abortion laws, are hungry for dialogue on this. Also, the embedded theatric tradition in the UK means there’s a familiarity with the form and the notion that theatre is a place to examine social and political topics of the day.

The Voice In My Head is on from the 24th of May through the 6th of June. More by Jonty can be found on his blog.