Renegade Productions is back in action at The Blue Room with its latest production SELKIE. Written by mythology enthusiast Finn O’Branagáin and directed by Renegade’s main man Joe Lui, SELKIE is a contemporary look at the Gaelic mythical creature, a seal in water that sheds its skin to become human on land. We speak with Joe Lui about delving into new creative and directorial territory.
“It’s my first time working with dancers. I’ve got Laura Boynes choreographing and two dancers, Kynan Hughes and Yilin Kong, who I’ve worked with in the past in various roles, but I’ve never put dancers into my own work. I previously avoided making any physical theatre or anything like that because I believe you want to have the right kind of skillset to make that kind of thing. These dancers, they’ve got the goods.”
The Selkie myth as retold in O’Branagáin’s script was powerfully compelling to Lui. “The issues that it touches on are incredibly subtle and complex. It’s a play that looks at the fetishization of the wild and the taming of the other. It looks at subtly abusive and controlling relationships that you and I are likely to find ourselves embroiled in. It does that in the midst of this really beautiful myth, and this kind of quiet play with so much space in between the lines; it’s beautiful.
“The legend is often sold as this really romantic myth, but Finn’s tweaked it ever-so-slightly and made it a parable of our time, especially in an era where there’s a growing awareness in terms of gender and sexual politics, and how oppression and misogyny take place in really micro, quiet forms as well as the overt ones that we all know to be on the lookout for.”
The play’s idea of ‘taming of the wild’ was a key phrase for Lui in aesthetic terms. “There is a hint of fetish aesthetic in there, cut against this idea of a wild animal. Designer Cherish [Marrington] has designed beautifully grotesque yet sensual costumes that play to the idea of the control and leashing of the wild.”
Lui has reteamed with two of his favourite collaborators, performers Ella Hetherington and Paul Grabovac. “We all first worked together on Book of Death and through that process, we loved the shit out of each other. We have that language shorthand that allows me to do things like all of a sudden work with dancers, knowing that the parts that I need to lock down are locked down.”
Joe says it’s these long-term collaborative relationships as well as the excitement of new things to come that keeps him in Perth. “It’s exciting to be part of something that’s establishing itself as opposed to already established. Hopefully we retain a lot of the talent that’s coming out of here and we’ll build something great.”
SELKIE runs from April 12-30 at The Blue Room Theatre. For more information and booking, please visit the Blue Room website here.