INTERVIEW: 7 Questions with Monty Sallur | The Trembling Giant

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Those Who Love You is coming to The Blue Room with a new show called The Trembling Giantwritten and directed by Monty SallurThe Trembling Giant tells the story of two people who are facing an eco-disaster, something Sallur feels isn’t terribly far from what we’re currently facing in reality. Sallur tells us a bit more about what prompted him to tell this story, and shares his thoughts about theatre and social discourse.

fa1f4bda07c65118b1b4c9330f59eb75Those Who Love You is a relatively new collective that saw its debut at Fringe earlier this year. How did you guys form, and how do you nut out who is going to do what for your projects?

The architects behind Those Who Love You are Sean Guastavino and Rhiannon Petersen. Fellow “lovers” Zoe Street, Nathan Whitebrook, Amelia Tuttleby and myself joined at the birth of the company. We all studied at Curtin University together and share an underlying passion for theatre. As a company we have a diverse array of talents from writing, directing, producing, marketing, publicity, and lighting, set and sound design. This is highly effective, as we are attempting to rotate the roles across each production. For example, in the Secret Garden Project I was a performer/deviser whereas I am the Writer/Director of our current project. This allows each member of the company to experiment, learn and develop as a well-rounded emerging artist.

What was your takeaway from your Fringe World experience with The Secret Garden Project – what did you learn from putting that piece together and did it inform how you approached The Trembling Giant?

Despite having a very different role on TSGP I have taken a wealth of experience from the project into this new work. I learnt valuable lessons such as how to mediate the line between making theatre with your closest friends and engaging in professional practice. I developed skills of collaboration, structural support, and organisation. TSGP was an immersive, experiential site-specific work that taught me an incredible amount about non-traditional theatre venues, planning, and collaborative practice. It was a show that required an enormous amount of commitment, hard work and mentorship: an experience that is vital for a first time company.

Image by Tashi Hall

To use your own metaphor, where did the seed of this idea come from, how long has it been germinating, and why have you felt compelled to tell this particular story?

The title came before anything else. The Trembling Giant refers the Great Pando whose root system is believed to be 80,000 years old. I have always had a keen interest in environmental issues and when I first read the name Trembling Giant I just knew there was a story to discover. As soon as I planted the seed, the characters, Margo and Flint, emerged and soon after the world began to take shape. As a young, emerging artist I want to offer meaning and insight with the work I produce. The Trembling Giant is about the relationship between Margo and Flint, which has been driven to the extreme as a result corporate corruption, deforestation and climate change. This story is set in a speculative future but it has its roots deeply grounded in issues pertinent to society today.

What words would you use to describe the work?

There are a variety of words to describe the show such as psychological drama, fundamentalism, belief, mission/purpose and humanity vs. nature. However, the key term I’ve latched onto is “eco-disaster” which refers the world in which the work is situated. This world is characterised by the absence of a natural world. By the total scarcity of natural resources and overwhelming presence of urban sprawl. It is a landscape suffering the effects of climate change.

What worries you most about climate change and other environmental issues?

The impending doom of an eco-disaster 🙂 The thing that worries me most is the sheer loss of the natural earth. The incredible breadth of biodiversity, which should endure for all human beings to appreciate and enjoy.

Why is theatre a good platform for raising consciousness about man’s impact on the environment? Is it more effective than other means, such as demonstrations, activism, political action?

Theatre is a conversation: it opens up a dialogue. Free expression of ideas is one of the fundamental human rights. This is how artists communicate to the wider members of society—through mediums such as theatre in order to expose and highlight important issues such as environmental degradation. I don’t believe effectiveness is always quantifiable. Without information and knowledge there’s never any reason for activism and protest: these are the result of exposure to knowledge: that is the role of theatre makers.

What do you hope the outcome will be for your piece (aside obviously from sold-out houses and good reviews etc….!)? Is it a call to action or a warning?

Open conversations about the environment, fundamentalism, belief and the extent to which you as a human being will go to protect the idea you believe in the strongest, and what the consequence of that action will be.

The Trembling Giant runs from 9 – 27 August at 7pm at The Blue Room Theatre. For more information and bookings, visit The Blue Room Website here. You can also take advantage of The Blue Room’s “Surf ‘n’ Turf” two-show deal and see CHAOS ENSEMBLE‘s TANK and The Trembling Giant together for $40. Go to The Blue Room’s Facebook page for more information about how to book this delicious deal.

CICELY BINFORD

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