Playwright Elisabeth Easther shares her thoughts about how Seed came about and what it’s like watching her writing performed on stage.
I started Seed as a novel; a couple of years ago I’d had a couple of miscarriages and the next thing I knew I was on the merry go round of ‘trying’ to conceive, and some of it was actually funny, some of it made me cringe and some of it made me cry. And all around me my friends were in various stages of wanting babies, feeling they should have babies but not wanting them, becoming pregnant when they were trying not to be… it was all around me, and so the idea of the multi-narrative came to me.
Seed started as four characters having a chapter each and then I realised about half way through that it was a play, that I wanted to see it and hear it on stage because it was mainly people talking. At the start there was probably an element of catharsis to the writing, but after a while, when it became a script, I just focused on the characters and their lives as it all got further and further from my own experiences.
Watching a play you’ve written being performed is strange, but to see a production done so well, I just feel chuffed, especially when my work looks better than I imagined it would because of the combined efforts of everyone on stage and off. In fact, this production of Seed makes me look pretty flash and it absolutely exceeded my expectations, which were pretty high. I’d have thought I’d have felt more shy about it, but it’s the second production and there have also been a few readings so I feel I watch it more as a pure audience member now than as the writer blushing in the back row.
It really is the most brilliant production. When I got back to Auckland and people asked how it went, I’d blather about how proud I was. And I love the process too of handing a script over – I’m not too possessive about what stays and what goes although it’s fun to talk things through when I’m required. I really like it too, that all these people I’ve made up can engender debate in the rehearsal room and in the foyer after the show.
Another motivating factor in making it a play was creating meaty roles for women over 30… there are so few roles for women that actually have teeth, and plays with four roles of this nature. I do feel a little proud to have provided women with strong parts to play.
And it’s entertaining, pure and simple. It’s funny, silly at times but still with a very serious emotional core. And for those people who’ve been through some element of this breeding circus, it’s good to see these stories on stage; it provokes thought and discussion. I think partly the theatre is to help us all realise we’re not alone in our experiences. Plus Seed allows us to laugh at a matter that is often either swept under the carpet, or treated with kid gloves in a maudlin way. Which is why Seed had to be funny as well as sad, just like life.