Voices of Women has been a program dedicated to telling the stories of Australian women since 2018 – but this is the first time the production has had to adapt to the online arena in wake of COVID 19. The multimedia endeavour Clearway (Corona) described as having “collaboration at its heart” by creator Lliane Clarke will contain twelve stories, two solo musicians and three artworks recorded in the collective artspace of ‘Articulate’ in Leichhardt, Sydney.
Actor Bellatrix Scott finished filming her monologues for the upcoming online release date and sat down to talk about the project, the stories she performed and the transformation of the arts industry.
Voices of Women starts with an online national writing competition for anyone female identifying to submit their short monologues/narratives – with finalists getting to see their stores produced. In a way the pandemic has allowed this process to come full circle, with the finished work then being shared back online. Scott commented:
“In previous years – not everyone could make the date. Now every single writer will have the opportunity to see their work being performed and will be able to share their work.”
The three works Scott is performing touch on a variety of life experiences – from being a waitress at the end of their rope (Be Kind to Your Service Staff written by Grace Cardillo):
“One was about a pissed off waitress – I related to that one because I’ve been a waitress and pissed off haha… it was a cheeky expression of, if you’ve worked in hospo, what you’ve always wanted to do!”
To highschool crushes (Beginnings written by Claire Hampson):
“… a queer coming of age love story – which is always refreshing. I personally fell in love with a girl before anyone else, and so it’s nice that this story can be reflected and projected.”
To Australia’s First Nation peoples’s experience with pandemics (Silted River written by Lliane Clarke):
“… that was about Corona having a parallel time to oysters in the water and how her [Liane’s] time spent at Parramatta river, Burramattagal, Gadigal and Wangal land, reminded her of First Nations history and surviving through pandemics. She collaborated with some First Nations women and wrote a piece reflecting on the history that has come before us and how this isn’t actually the first pandemic, but how it’s echoing pandemics past.”
Voices of Women’s focus on female writers and producers gives a great heart to the work. Often this project is giving opportunities to amature writers, or those yet to be published, resulting in a revealing collaboration with experienced actors/theatre professionals telling stories that would not typically be able to be heard.
“It’s so nice working with women! … having studied acting, most plays, most famous plays are written by men. Wherever we would find a play written by a woman it would be like “Oh my God – yay! And a chick wrote this!” So it is really cool to express women’s voices more.”
The stories being told in this Voices of Women project have been painted by the brush of COVID 19 like much of 2020. Scott reflected:
“It was good to read the pieces when they were sent out three months ago compared to now. The differences when they first were sent to us “oh my gosh – can you believe were in lockdown? How about zoom? How crazy is this?”. Now we’re all so used to it that it even lands differently. It has a different tonality now. In that sense it’s kind of like we captured a parcel of time here.”
Of course it’s not just the subject matter that has been affected by the pandemic – but the distribution of Clearway (Corona) and the broader arts industry methods of engagement. Project creator Lliane Clarke made the leap to adapt the show online in order for it to continue this year. Scott spoke about the impact of COVID 19 and her thoughts on the changing times for art.
“I feel that art has been forced to develop in a way that is going to give it longevity – ultimately. Technology has thrown a curveball to the arts – like if everything is more immediate and available – other things aren’t as attractive. But also opportunities are present in this new sphere…
I’m trying not to be a negative nancy about it because I do think you have to embrace change. There’s a whole world to play with if you do embrace it and it can mean connecting with more people than ever before.”
Clearway (Corona) is soon to be released as a pre-filmed production online on the 27th and 28th of August at 6pm. Book tickets online or find out more about Voices of Women at https://voiceswomen.com//