STEVIE - Confronting. Chaotic. Reckless

A powerful and intriguing new play about “how we act”, the stories we tell and the intersection of trauma and identity from Philip Parsons Prize winner Dr. Suzie J. Jarmain and her New Work Company.

Stevie is an urban mini-thriller taking place on a highway at the intersection of life and death. The performance season has now been rescheduled (see dates below) after a change due to COVID.

Stevie herself walks out onto the middle of a busy highway late at night and vanishes. The moment she sets foot on the broken centre line of the road, the story ‘revs up’. She disappears…no blood, no body and no witnesses. The highway links the city to the country at an intersection, a point in Stevie’s life that could go either way. Four women wait for Stevie in a place without any destination, and no fixed address, where no one is familiar and yet everyone knows Stevie. Through a series of revelations about Stevie and her wildly chaotic, exciting and recklessly profound philosophies, and reflection on their own lives, the four realise they are drawn together by a frightening shared experience. What happens to Stevie, could happen to all of us.

Stevie is a conversation about how we ‘perform’ in the face of traumatic events and how we ‘act’ towards and with each other.

The playwright, Dr. Suzie J. Jarmain (formerly known as Suzie Hardgrave) is a transformational acting and character specialist, working in the genre of magic and psychological realisms. She combines directing, performance and writing for theatre supported by practice-based research.

She recently completed a PhD on identity in realism-based acting, looking at the psychological effects for actors when transforming into fictional characters. She interrogated the aspect of how female gendered stereotyped narratives cause women to ‘disappear’. The play, Stevie, was born out of  similar questions, such as Where do the lines between acting and the personal self intersect, diverge and sometimes blur with narratives of fiction with fact? How does this experience parallel with the experience of the actor playing characters and with lived experiences of psychological well-being?

As an actor-performer, Jarmain has worked with national and international companies such as the National Theatre of Scotland, BBC Scotland, Traverse Theatre, The Arches, North Edinburgh Arts Centre, The Performance Space, Melbourne Theatre Company and Australian Theatre for Young People, amongst others. Moving into stage directing, Suzie won Short and Sweet Sydney in 2010 with her directorial debut It’s All the Rage.  Her 2015 solo work Elizabeth Taylor is My Mother won the prestigious Philip Parsons Prize awarded by the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies.

This play is the first production from the New Work Company (NWC), which collaborates with predominantly female and feminist-identifying (non-gender specific) creatives and technical professionals. For the first piece of work, NWC has certainly four extraordinary female actors whose experiences span across multidisciplinary forms, including Bree-Anna Cummins, Courtney Crisfield, Belle Hansen, and Samantha Kennedy.

When: Running 2 - 13 March
Where: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton VIC 3053

Content warning: This production makes contact with themes of suicide, trauma, sexual abuse and dissociative identity disorder, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Main image credit: Darren Gill