Melissa Collins…You’re Now a Theatre Writer (all of a sudden)!
Earlier this year (2017) I came across a call for story submissions for a production being created by Melbourne based director/producer/actor/writer Noel Anderson. The theme was love gone wrong, called ‘Love Kills 2017.’ for the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
I had the perfect story that simply had to be a part of this ensemble.
When I wrote it in 2014, I was sad and lonely. I have been that way a few times in my life. Who hasn’t, right? To be perfectly honest, back then I was also pretty bored with sad and lonely and I was missing a man who broke my heart. It was the kind of heartbreak that left me a little obsessed with how wrong most things about me were and how foolish (read that as stupid) he was in equal measure. None of that was accurate, but it surely felt like that then. It was the “he left me‘ kind of heartbreak, which can take a while to heal, or at least it did me. I was still having those lonely-specifically-for him-moments when I was playing around with writing first-person fictional short stories about grief and tragedy and loss and sex. I was too miserable for that kind of creative joy and I was living a monastic existence by cranky choice. I was fed up with that too.
Enter the Unknown Masseuse.
The inspiration for the piece was a massage with a nice looking, professional masseuse who had great hands. Oh, and he was a bit cute. Actually very cute. He was professional and detached. I liked that. It was such a simple and unremarkable experience that day, that today I can’t remember anything about the massage or even why I thought he was good looking. I remember the joy of writing the main character though. She was so much fun, and so real to me. I wish she was my friend in real life. She was feisty and sexy and brave and very vulnerable. The masseuse? Well, he was just gorgeous and completely inappropriate.
So the massage I had with a noticeably cute guy became something else entirely after the event, in my mind only. Longing, impotent revenge, massage oil, wondering, straying, expert hands, inappropriate thoughts and crossed boundaries mixed with white-hot passion and searing longing for someone who doesn’t want you and that became my story.
When I finished it, I submitted it to a few sites. Since it was quite graphic in its erotic content, I was uncomfortable with the thought I might become known as a writer of porn or erotica. I created a story about a sad woman who gets confused about her present-day, sexy, inappropriate masseuse and her long-gone lover. The sex was an aside. It was more about the emotional journey, not the sexual one. I felt exposed because of the explicit content, so I put it away. For the next few years, my masseuse and his masseuse-ee (?) were on cryogenic freeze tucked away in my hard-drive. Then I saw Noel Anderson’s submission request and my sexy little story was on her way home.
Home was Fraught with Torment and Truth.
I wasn’t part of the audition process nor did I have anything to do with any direction or rehearsals. My story baby needed her independence. It was time to let her go so she could grow up in the theatre world where she belonged. The original actor who was to perform my piece dropped out. There as a chance the story might not have been given mouth-to-mouth after all and was under threat of having to go back to the darkness from which she had been hiding. The incredibly talented Stephanie Osztreicher stepped in at short notice and I am ever so grateful. She was incredible. Stephanie is a brave and very talented artist.
The Actor Has Her Now.
Wherever words come from within me met in the same place that acting a character to life came from within Stephanie. Stephanie brought a life and joy to my words that both thrilled and gobsmacked me at the same time. Without ever saying a word to one another, she completely understood my character and played her perfectly. Writing words in isolation is one thing. You never really know how they travel from a page to someone else’s mind. Seeing my words interpreted by someone else right there in front of me feels just like going higher, higher, highest on the swings when you’re 5.
It was pure magic to see my words come to life like that. Noel Anderson pulled together an ensemble of stories of true love at bad endings sharing heartache, obsession, murder and violence interwoven with grief and tears of laughter and sadness and sexy time as well. We’ve all been to those dark places in our minds. Some of us act out, some act in by fantasizing about revenge. Either way, Love Kills 2017 showed us a little bit more of our messy humanity in all it’s confounding ugliness and it’s tender beauty. My story was in exceptional company.
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You.
All of the individual performances that became Love Kills 2017 are being filmed later this year or early 2018. I look forward to seeing it on a screen too. I’ll keep you posted.
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