Few people know more about the power of story than playwrights. So it was an absolute pleasure to interview playwright Sally Hardy in the theatre at Flinders University, Adelaide, ahead of her current production, Gone Viral, an emotional play about a 17 year old woman coping with the news of her father’s terminal cancer diagnosis. Having always used writing as a form of therapy herself, Sally aims to encourage people to open up and talk about issues they might ordinarily feel too afraid to approach. As such, her community is not just Adelaide theatre goers but also anyone in the wider community who’s affected by a particular storyline. It’s an absolute honour to discuss these ideas with someone so completely motivated, as I am, by storytelling.
In today’s episode of Be The Drop, Sally talks us through the steps involved in professionally producing a play, about earning the respect of the artistic community, and reveals how storytelling is her saviour…
Storytelling as a way of processing.
Even before she realised she was going to be a writer, Sally was compulsively writing as a form of therapy because she felt her emotions so strongly. Whether good or bad, expressing her emotions on paper allowed her to get some distance from them, making it easier to process them. She realised later on in life that this was in fact an integral part of the process of connecting with her community, as she was able to turn those thoughts and emotions into something positive and productive.
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Humanness provides depth of connection.
Sally talked a great deal about the importance of live theatre and human connection. That depth of experience you get from a live performance is what captures and holds the attention of an audience, taking them on a much fuller journey. Why? Because they’re there with the characters, watching them and their actions, joys and struggles. Live theatre is a forum for real, raw humanness. It’s this that produces that depth of connection. It’s not just about sitting in a theatre; it’s about the shared experience of the players and the audience. Lots of people don’t often go to the theatre, so it can be a shock to them to have a live performance done well right in front of their eyes. It’s very human, it connects somewhere deep inside. You’re part of a collective experience; you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about shared experiences and the conversations people have about that experience afterwards.
Sally says that everyone involved in theatre gets a buzz from being part of something that transforms the audience, leaving them thinking something they haven’t thought before, or going out into the wider community to have different conversations to usual. For me producing Be The Drop, exploring how technology and digital communications can contribute to a feeling of isolation, it’s about understanding the value of live performance and other face-to-face experiences in providing these foundational human connections, and how we harness the digital world to support and facilitate rather than destroy that.
As long as I still have stories to tell, this is what I have to do; I feel like I have no choice.
Trust in letting go.
Sally also had some insightful points to make about trust during our time together. If you’re communicating and building community, you can’t do that alone; it takes more than one drop. Collaboration and bringing a really good team along with you are essential to creating that waterfall. You have to trust others to connect to your vision and come with you, but then you also need to trust in letting go. For Sally, she needed to be able to write the play, then let the actors act it and the director direct it; she had to be able to let go of that sense of ownership that she knows the story or the vision best, that it’s hers. And that applies whether we’re talking about a play, a business, product, or any idea. To successfully create a waterfall, you have to be able to relinquish total control; you must be able to hand over that passion and desire of yours that drove you to be the drop in the first place.
JOIN ME – HELP REDUCE HOMELESSNESS!
Let’s Be The Drop and create a waterfall together! This year, I’ll be participating in the CEO Sleepout to raise money for Vinnies with hundreds of other CEOs and business owners. Community action like this really embodies the spirit of Be The Drop for me. United, we can make a difference; individually, we’re just single drops, but if we work together, we can create a waterfall. I believe passionately in this philosophy and want to live it wholeheartedly, not just talk about it in my podcast.
So, join me in supporting Vinnies and we can change the lives of hundreds of thousands of homeless Aussies. Homelessness is not a choice, but I’m choosing to experience it for just one uncomfortable winter night to raise money to help those people that desperately need it. You don’t need to join me on the soggy cardboard, but you can support my fundraising efforts >> just follow this link to my fundraising page. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you again for tuning in and listening to the BTD podcast. I can’t wait for the next installment to bring you more inspiring people talking about their strategies for connecting with and building a positive community. And if you want more behind the scenes stuff and bits not included in the show, head over to our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.
Be The Drop is brought to you by Narrative Marketing, the marketing consultancy that exists to help you unlock your storytelling superpower.
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