Just last week was ‘R U OK’ day – a day that promotes suicide prevention by reminding people to have those difficult conversations with the people around us about how they are travelling.
Depression and suicide are the key themes in ’Night Mother, the powerful two-woman play being presented at the Drill Hall by actors Linda Rutledge and Amanda Sebasio-Ong and director Alka (Penelope Chater).
The trio chose the piece because they wanted to present something meaningful.
‘I like deep and challenging,’ says Linda, who admits that a piece of substance that featured just two female actors was surprisingly difficult to find.
This is the story of a mother and daughter brought together by grief, and in the end torn apart by it.
‘They have both lost their husbands, that’s why they are living together. The whole thing is around fear and around loss and grief. Loneliness is a huge theme; both women in the play approach it in different ways.’
Working on such intense material can be taxing for actors who have to step aside and get back to their jobs and families.
‘You have to be careful to look after yourself,’ says Linda. ‘The play goes into dark places and you have to be willing to go there and confront that part of yourself. During the rehearsal you preserve yourself a little bit; you have to hold a line between feeling something and going all the way.’
Linda was excited to be working with Mandy again.
‘I love Mandy’s work – she is really present and she listens so that it’s really fresh and different every time. I think it needs to be like that, because different thoughts come up, and so different feelings emerge and that feeds into the performance.’
This is sure to be an evocative and moving piece, as both the actors and director are known for their skill with delivering emotionally intense and authentic performances. In this case, they all feel extremely passionate about the piece because they believe the subject matter is so important.
‘There is a lot of shame around suicide and mental health issues,’ says Linda, ’Night Mother opens up the conversation. People just think it’s too hard, they can’t deal with it, they pretend it’s not there.’
But it is.
’Night Mother, at the Drill Hall Theatre in Mullumbimby on Friday and Saturday 23 & 24 September at 7.30pm and Sunday 25 September at 2pm. Bookings at The Bookshop Mullumbimby or drillhalltheatre.org.au.