Talking Sugar Tears with Adelaide Greig

Actor, director and playwright Adelaide Greig, talks about her upcoming Mudfest play, Adrift in My Ocean of Sugar Tears.

Catchy Title! What is the significance of that image, being ‘Adrift in my Ocean of Sugar Tears’ for the play itself?

I really struggled to settle on a name. ‘Adrift’ alludes to the hopelessness of Edna and Nora’s situation and sugar tears was inspired by my mother claiming I was crying ‘crocodile tears’ (fake tears) for attention when I was little. Tears of sugar seemed appropriate as it represents their attempts to bend themselves and their emotions into being acceptable, being sweet, to the point of no longer really being tears which are salty, and then being lost in this vast amount of emotion they aren’t sure is real or which they just have been told isn’t real or they’ve convinced themselves isn’t real.

What is Sugar Tears about?

It’s difficult to describe without ruining the twists! But it’s a female duologue featuring Edna and Nora, two women with quite opposing personalities, who are locked in this space together having been rejected by their ‘husband’ after an unspeakable act. It delves into the pressures that are put on women to ‘be’ so many things, adhere to binary judgments of behaviour (slut vs prude etc) and the terrible effects this stifling can have on a sense of identity.

Your play revolves around the relationship between two women, wives, Nora and Edna (respectively from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and The Awakening by Kate Chopin). Why draw on characters from preexisting works of fiction?

Well it was the differences and similarities between the stories of the original Nora and Edna that first got the ball rolling in my head on the concept—on women who realise they aren’t happy in the life they’ve been forced into but have to go to terrible lengths to escape it (Nora leaving her entire life and going goodness knows where on her own with no money and Edna’s suicide). I think a benefit of writing being inspired by previous texts, particularly on social issues such as women’s rights, is that you can raise the question of how much things have or haven’t progressed and while obviously being married and having children is not the only option open to women anymore, there are still a lot of female specific expectations present in society and potentially dire consequences for women who are forced to [adhere to these] and/or are brave enough to challenge the status quo.

Why tell this story through theatre rather than another medium?

Because theatre is my love and joy—no other medium has the combination of being able to present one’s writing and thoughts, with theatrical and aesthetic presentation, in real life before an audience.

Has this play changed much from its first conception to its current form? If so, how so?

Yes and no, in that it hasn’t ended up exactly how I thought it was going to but then I didn’t have a strict idea of what I was writing either. Edits over the past month have changed Nora and Edna from leaving their ‘husband’ to them being rejected by him, and that has added a depth it was needing the first time I wrote it.
Have you drawn much from any previous works that inspired you? I hear there’s a Lorde reference or two in the play. Why Lorde?

I try to not write with any other writers in mind, I prefer to try and find my own style and let that just happen rather than trying to replicate something else. Yes, there is a reference to Liability in the text! Oh, I just couldn’t resist because I adore her and that song perfectly suits the text. And there’s a cheeky gag between the lyrics and the twist at the end which hopefully maybe some people will pick up

What made you want to tell this story?

A desire to present a mixture of personal experiences and conditions within society in general in what I thought was a challenging (both to me as a writer and director and for the audience) and complex framework and creative concept.

What can audience’s expect when going to see this show?

Sassy, bitchy dialogue mixed with symbolic, poetic passages making (hopefully) biting social commentary within an intimate and quirky setting. If you’ve been dumped recently maybe bring some tissues.

FLW Theatre’s production of adrift in my ocean of sugar tears runs from the 23rd-25th of August in the Union Theatre, as part of Mudfest 2017. 

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