The Street Theatre has been supporting the arts with Early Phase, a program where artists work with The Street to develop ideas into concept treatments. Each artist will receive $5000 together with development, peer exchange, and input from professional leaders.
This year's recipients are Liam Budge, Emily Clark, Farnoush Parsiavashi and Maura Pierlot. They will work from October through to January 2022, to investigate, clarify and articulate their ideas and help bring them closer to fruition.
Budge, a video artist and musician who teaches voice at the Australian National University in the Jazz & Contemporary Music Program, said he wanted to create a work focusing on the idea of fatherhood. He and his wife, fellow artist Abbey Mackay, have a son, Julian, who recently turned three and his years as a parent so far led to an interest in different experiences of fatherhood, across cultures and among individuals.
"What I'm going to do is interview a range of different fathers - some I know already, some I'm yet to meet," Budge said.
He will compile many of these interviews into documentary and portrait photography accompanied by his own music.
"I'm very grateful I've got a good relationship with my own father," Budge said.
There was still many ideas to work through and he hoped Early Phase program with its mentoring and feedback would assist with this process.
"I'm still unsure whether to feature myself directly in the project," he said.
Pierlot was born in New York but has lived in Canberra with her Australian husband for nearly 30 years.
As a former medical journalist and editor of Australian Medicine, she had an interest in health issues when she began writing. Her first full-length play, Fragments, was produced at The Street Theatre in 2019 and dealt with mental health in young people.
In her Early Phase development, she wanted to look at another timely subject.
"I'm interested in looking at the rights and duties we have to ourselves at the end of life - particularly whether we have the right to die well," she said.
While she believed people did have the right to choose how, when and where they died, Pierlot said in her view this would be subject to strict conditions such as ruling out coercion as a factor.
But as recent legislative debates had shown: "It's such a contentious issue."
Pierlot wanted to investigate the subject through drama and had "the seed of an idea" she wanted to develop in the Early Phase program.
What if a woman, maybe in her 40s, with a degenerative disease asks her mother to assist her in dying - but the mother is opposed to this?
There's plenty of scope in such a scenario to explore the emotional and practical challenges as well as the moral issues involved.
While Pierlot had her own point of view she did not want the play to be didactic and knew both sides of the debate had to be strongly presented for the play to work as drama.
"I'm not trying to convince people," she said.
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