The following excerpts are from the article written by Jessie Papain, published in The West Australian on 17 January 2017:
A new play from theatre innovators The Last Great Hunt is setting out to explore how we determine the price we are willing to pay for life’s costs and what that says about privilege.
Set to debut at Fringe World, PRICE TAG is penned by award-winning playwright and director Jeffrey Jay Fowler, who has received acclaim for his previous works.
PRICE TAG was originally commissioned by All Saints’ College as part of their HotHouse Company project, where professional artists allow students to watch and participate as they develop a piece of work.
Across a series of workshops, Fowler gave an insight into his theatre-making techniques and how he extrapolates an idea, then created a draft script with 11 different proposals for the play.
After a reading with actors from The Last Great Hunt, the students helped choose a single proposal to move forward with.
“It was interesting to see how bright, sharp and forward-thinking today’s teenagers are,” Fowler says.
“They were so up to date with conversations about privilege, not just financial but privilege around gender, skin colour and sexuality. All the conversations a piece of political theatre needs.”
Year 12 student at All Saints’ College and 2017 Arts Captain, Tessa Redman, reflects on her experience in this project:
“At the beginning of 2016, a handful of students interested in Literature, History, Drama and Economics were invited by Mr Stephen Roberts to be involved in the dramaturgical process of a play to be called Price Tag.
Price Tag was written by WA playwright Jeffery Jay Fowler for theatre company, The Last Great Hunt. It recently premiered as part of the Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Nights Program at Perth’s Fringe Festival. This play explored how much people are willing to pay for certain items and what this has to say about privilege in our society.
I was one of the students chosen to be involved in the process. Through a series of workshops at the College we brainstormed ideas about our experiences with money and worked with Jeffery about how much we value (or don’t value) certain things in our lives. As a Drama student and someone who is heavily interested in theatre-making, this was a very rewarding and interesting experience. Through these workshops not only did fellow students and I gain an insight into Jeffery’s approach to creating new drama work, but it also made us all think about privilege and the impact money has on our society.
When I was offered the opportunity to work closer with Jeffery in this process by doing a secondment with him and The Last Great Hunt, I took it immediately! At the beginning of 2017, Thomas Killmier-Burns (Year 11), Kate Daveron (2016 ASC graduate) and I spent time with Jeffery in rehearsals for Price Tag. I was given the role of Assistant Director and throughout the rehearsals I watched the actors work through the script and helped by giving my personal insight into how the performance could be further developed.
Watching the actors work through the play over three weeks of rehearsals was a really unique insight into how different people approach new pieces of theatre. It was also nice to watch the play in rehearsal. This allowed us to see the complex layers of the characters, the events and the themes of the play in great detail and understand certain aspects of the play, which someone who would only watch the play once may not have picked up on.
It was a real privilege to have had the opportunity to work with a theatre company such as The Last Great Hunt. Working with a playwright as brilliant as Jeffery was incredibly rewarding and I will be taking what I learnt from the time I spent with him into my future studies of the Arts.”
The Price Tag Playwright-in-Residence initiative was one of the HotHouse Company’s first projects and really helped to lay the foundations upon which we are now building. We acknowledge The Last Great Hunt for the way in which they committed to the project and we would especially like to thank Jeffery Jay Fowler who was the inspiration behind the innovation. Thanks to Price Tag − the HotHouse Company, The Last Great Hunt and Jeffrey Jay Fowler now have an active relationship and we are thinking of ways in which we can go further to create even more innovative opportunities!
Price Tag was performed by Gita Bezard, Nick Maclaine, Jo Morris and Mararo Wangai.
Photographs: Tanya Voltchanskaya