At a more important time for young women than ever, PLOT Theatre Society performed Everything’s Fine to a full house throughout its winter season at the Moonah Arts Centre. An original script by Hobart playwright and UTas student Benedicta McGeown, the production combined the polish and vigour of a professional company with a compelling voice unafraid to break new ground.
Featuring an intergenerational cast of actors, Everything’s Fine featured breathtaking performances by David Bannister and Victoria Bremner. The audience was seated in rows facing each other, providing an immersive experience that felt sometimes like a courtroom. Locally composed music accompanied the seamless transitions between acts, with the innovative use of a red door on the open stage communicating the breach of private space.
Everything’s Fine challenged the social taboos and stigma around issues such as abortion, child abuse and drug addiction. It’s not Tassie’s answer to Juno – Everything’s Fine doesn’t shy away from the deep and entrenched social problems in our island state, though it is peppered with humour and hints of romantic love. McGeown uses the theatre to grapple with broader social discourses in gender inequity, and does so poignantly. “You would’ve been Henry if you were a boy.” / “I wish I was.”
The play is uniquely focussed on the precursory stress and aftermath of an abortion, rather than the abortion itself. This sets it apart from, while evoking the spirit of, the Australian classic The Harp in the South by Ruth Park. Travelling laterally in time, the play offers a human view of the social implications for young people, whose voices are often excluded from the discourse around terminations.
As director McGeown says, “I think theatre has always played a role in expressing the thoughts of those who might not have a voice, opening up conversations between people who have different experiences rather than forcing them.”
In the context of Tasmania’s loss of its only publicly-funded clinic, McGeown says her play gives the audience a place to witness without judgment. “Domestic violence, cutting of reproductive health options – this is a part of a war on women. This is really a comment on the women affected and their loss of their sense of self.”
Producer Emma Skalicky says, “I believe that giving women’s voices a platform is always a vital part of what theatre aims to do. To give a space where the nature of reproductive rights can be explored with as much nuance, detail and care as possible – where people can come to listen and to be challenged – is invaluable. Benedicta’s characters all have different beliefs and perspectives that shift over the course of the play – as we hope the audience’s perspectives will too.
“To be challenged, and to be asked to empathise with people completely different to you, is part of the joy of theatre. In light of Angela Williamson’s firing, Benedicta’s work could not be more current, and it means everything to us that theatre in Tasmania is a space where this work can be openly and freely shared with everyone.”