Q&A/The Festival Sessions/Theatre

Fresh food and feminism

21 January 2020

Set on the shelves of a supermarket, BITE ME, by emerging local playwright Sian Murphy, takes a playful approach to sparking a conversation about the male gaze.

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Seesaw caught up with Sian Murphy to learn more about her work and the food-based exploration of feminism that is BITE ME.

Seesaw: Tell us about your career path to date, Sian.
Sian Murphy:
I am an emerging artist and most recently graduated from the Bachelor of Performing Arts course at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I devised and performed in productions there such as House on the Hill (Nona Sheppard), “TILT” (Just Kidding, This Heaving Mass) and Life On Earth (Spare Parts Puppet Theatre).

Before that I grew up in Albury, NSW and was a part of HotHouse Theatre. I was really lucky to have access to excellent theatre while growing up in regional Australia, so it was a great experience.

Sian Murphy

S: Describe your artistic practice…
The past three years at WAAPA have been really formative in terms of the way I want to make work. While I specialise in writing I also act and direct. My practice focuses on creating work through the female gaze, and challenging the narratives women have been given in the past.

S: Even though you’ve only recently graduated, this is your third appearance at Fringe! What draws you back to the festival?
SM: As an emerging artist, Fringe World is a fantastic place to cut your teeth and I am really excited to be a part of The Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Nights program alongside some really great shows.

S: Tell us about your 2020 Fringe World show, BITE ME
BITE ME is about a Steak, an Avocado and a Chilli living in a supermarket and competing with each other and the fresh produce around them to get picked. It’s a look into the male gaze and how it perpetuates competition between women, as well as the need for our validation of the gaze. I mean, how good really is it?! This show is wacky, with a really great team behind it.

S: What differentiates BITE ME from the 700 or so other Fringe World shows on offer?
Two women dressed up as fruit and a Steak who is a vegetarian… it’s going to be a fun time!

S: Who will BITE ME appeal to?
Teenage girls, feminists, women who ever felt pressure to be great all of the time. BITE ME is for anyone ready to have a laugh, we’re excited to open up a conversation about the male gaze in a way that is accessible.

S: What inspired you to make this show?
I have really clear memory from when I was seventeen of one of my friends telling me she would be upset if I got a boyfriend before her. We were drinking frozen cokes in the underground carpark of Kmart. It’s a moment has really stuck with me and I wanted to explore that idea of competition and why it exists.

S: Tell us about the creative/rehearsal process for BITE ME
The rehearsal process has been a mixture of devising and writing with a lot of funny improvisations. Cast members Courtney Cavallaro, Tallulah Starkie and Caitlin McFeat are firecrackers, and very funny ladies in general and with Elise Wilson in the room directing the room has seen some golden moments. I had to cut some of my favourite parts though, that was hard!

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe World 2020?
I’m very excited for French Over, it sounds intimate in a really lovely way.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
I love a swing, I used to jump off mid-air until I realised I was breakable!

Bite Me plays The Blue Room Theatre, 28 January – 1 February, as part of its Summer Nights Program, at Fringe World 2020.

“The Fringe Sessions” is an annual series of Q&A interviews with artists who will be appearing at Fringe World. Stay tuned for more!

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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